View Full Version : Pluginz.com contest entry

05-13-2006, 02:21 AM
Hi there,

I'm new to mattepainting but i saw this website and was so amazed about the work you all did. So i read the article about the "pluginz mattepainting contest" and like "sregert", i signed in. The image below is the result.
I had quite problems to integrate the snake into the image and - i don't know why - but i think, especially the headpart of it doesn't fit into the image. Could anyone tell me what's wrong with it? Is it the contrast? Or is it just the fact that everyone knows what a cobra looks like and that it couldn't be that size?

Thanks for your reply!


05-13-2006, 02:41 AM
Your matte is welldone but i think your snake should open his mouth to
spit flames, it would be more ralistic and dramatic...
and maybe more smoke into the castle... :D

05-13-2006, 01:13 PM
Just a quick few comments...

Great start overall. I like the mood you are striking with this one. I also appreciate your resistance to over-saturating any elements in the plate. As to your snake, I think the primary issue you are having with it is in the lighting. There are a couple of ways to see this:

First, In photoshop throw a levels adjustment layer on top of your whole image and then do the following:

crank the input white level down to about 40 and you will see that the snake is as dark as some of the darker parts of your plate. In reality, something that far from camera would not have so many darks. You will need to use curves or something to lift the blacks on your snake element to fix that. Notice that this issue is not affecting the grave stones you added which is one reason why they are integrating better than the snake.

Next, set your input white level back to 255 and crank your input black level up to about 190. While not as far off, notice that the only things you can still see (for the most part) are the elements you have painted (around the snake and castle that is). This means they are not really in the same world as your plate. Now, the fire would really pop like it does, but the water splashes are a bit too bright and the reflected fire color on the snake might be too hot as well (maybe). Your castle also has too many brights on it where it should be in shadow (from both the fire and the sky).

Ok, remove the levels layer. The next issue is with lighting direction. Overall the snake looks like it is lit from below. In this plate there are no really hot directional light sources ('cept the fire) and so you don't need any rim lighting on the snake per se. Still, though, you want a bit more light on top, and a fair bit less underneath. This will buy you a number of things. 1st, it will integrate your snake into the plate overall. 2nd, it will then allow you to paint some highlights against a darker snake to make it look wet. Specifically on the top of its head you could get some hotter kicks (making sure they are not too hot - see above) that make it look like water is reflecting the sky. And some smaller kicks against the hood of the snake where it is reflecting the fire. Use the tree in the right foreground as a reference for where the light is coming from and how it would illuminate your snake. Also, any highlights should not get any hotter than the reflected light in the lake.

Other comments: The directionality of the grave stones is a bit off (though the light levels are good). They look as though there is a stronger light source coming from the left. You might also very very very subtly add a little detail the backs of them (but it would have to be super super slight). And maybe a slight darkening of the ground behind them (but again very slight and fairly soft). You might also sharpen the fire reflection on the lake's surface a tiny bit, and correct the direction of the cast shadows of the snake into the water.

Ok, enough ranting on a Saturday! Good start and keep going!


05-13-2006, 07:10 PM
I took a few moments to illustrate what I meant about the snake... hope it's ok.

Ideally you would do the reflections a little better than I have but you get the idea.


05-14-2006, 03:19 AM
@bvz: Thank you very much! I see - there are still a lot of things that i'm not thinkin' of.