View Full Version : School of Visual Arts Matte Painting Week 6

02-19-2009, 08:04 PM
Hi all-

For this weeks assignment you take a photo of a summertime scene, and modify it so that it looks like a wintertime scene using the techniques I showed in class. For your final you will turn in:

1. Your original summertime photo.
2. Your revised wintertime photo.
3. A movie cross dissolving between the 2.

You are not required to have taken the photo yourself, but if you do, I will give you extra credit for that. I hope you all took the Antarctica photos I put on my teachers folder as they are an unusually good source of reference for this assignment.

You don't have to paint everything in the photo. Look through the alpha channels to see if there is anything available to ask as a mask for all of the snow covered surfaces. It is often surprising how much work the alpha channels can do for you with very little "hand selecting" of areas.

Doing a scene with a big leafy tree will be harder than doing one with the leaves already off, but I will grade higher any of you who take that extra challenge. You will have to paint the bare trees, but try and match the limb structure of the leafy trees so when you cross dissolve to your bare tree it won't look like you have 2 different trees.

All things being equal, your winter scene will be cooler than your summer scene, so once again work with the warm/cool dichotomy to get the most drama in your seasonal change.

Remember that everything is due by midnight on Wednesday--anything submitted after that will receive an "F".

We will start next weeks class with Dan Pochtrager's report on Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy”, my personal favorite of all of Scorsese's films. Make sure it is the original 1982 version staring Robert Deniro and Jerry Lewis, not Peter Hyam's violent 2006 remake staring Jason Statham and Jay Leno.

Because of the cold, I put off what is normally our next assignment in hopes of warmer weather next weekend. So mark on your calendar that we will shoot the plates for our "City of the Future" assignment on Friday, February 27th. I plan to bring the class to Hoboken, where we can shoot across the Hudson to Manhattan in all it's sparkling beauty. Let's meet at SVA at 5:00, and we will take the path together.

You are not required to shoot your plate with the class, but if you don't, you won't have the benefit of the help of the other class members, including Max Thomas, a film student, helping you with the camera. Afterward, I will buy everyone dinner at the famous Benny Tudinos pizzaria, widely considered to be the best pizza place in the universe. Anyone interested will then be invited back to my home/studio, and I will show you were I work.

There was some great work last week, so let's see if we can top it this week!

David Mattingly

02-20-2009, 11:43 AM
Amanda Schwartz was challenging me about her grade this week, and asked a really good question in class. She asked "How do I get an "A" in this course? The quick answer is to produce better work, but if you feel you are already working up to capacity, that isn't much of an answer. So let me give you a few practical tips that can raise your grade.

1. While you are working on your homework, once you have it almost finished, e-mail me a .jpg of it and ask for some tips. Last week Brandon Lori sent me a preview of what he was going to turn in, and in a few short sentences I suggested what he could do to raise the project form a "B" to an "A". He then did the work, and got an "A". Asking for help during the week is not cheating. Brandon ultimately did the work, all I did was point him in the direction to make it better.

To quote a great philosopher:

"You've done the hard work, now do the easy work"
---David B. Mattingly

Don't you hate people who quote themselves? I find it really obnoxious, but I googled that saying and nothing comes up, so I am going to claim it for myself. What I mean by that is this--a lot of times with a painting, you will work on it for a week, and then in the last couple of hours, right before it is finished, all of the best stuff gets done. Take for instance the piece Max Thomas turned in last night. I gave him a "C-", but if he had sent it to me a couple of days before, and had taken my direction, he could have easily raised it to a "B". If you read the comments I made on his piece you see that the corrections could have been done in 15 minutes, and the piece would have been significantly better. I know Max worked hard on the piece, all that he missed is the easy stuff, the corrections you can do quickly if you are pointed in the right direction. You do admittedly have to work ahead, and not wait to the last day, since I won't offer corrections a few hours before it is supposed to be turned in. Admittedly, some of the corrections will take some time, but an "A" is reserved for extra special work, not for just doing what is required without a smidgen of inspiration. Work like that gets a "C".

I would love to give "A"s to everyone in the course, but classes where that is happening are classes where no one is working up to their potential. If you get an "A" in my course, it will mean something, and it is something to strive for. Remember that when all is said and done, no one will ever remember what grade you got in art school for god's sake! We aren't becoming MBA's where people will actually look at your grades. All anyone will care about is what your artwork looks like, so if you take a class and get an "F", but you really learn something, that is the class you want to be in, not the easy "A".

2. Be a lively participant in the classroom. Believe it or not, that really matters to teachers, or at least to me. I love students who ask intelligent questions, and participate in the class. In fact, I often have to cut myself off because we do have material I have to cover in the course, and if I get off on a tangent with a bright student, I can lose track of time. So if you have a question, ask it. If you have something to add, add it. It really will raise your final grade. 2 weeks ago Danica Perry asked me "What is Gamma", and I initially answered "You know, that thing where the monitor goes brighter and darker, you know, gamma...." and had to admit that I didn't really know. That was a good question! Turns out I went on Wikipedia, and after reading the answer, I now know that answer to the question is "Danica, that is too technical for us to get into right now." But none the less, it was a great question. So participate in the classroom, and it will be reflected in your final grade.

3. Really look at your reference. While working on a project, find some reference that is like what you are working on, and refer to it. I usually work on a 2 monitor system, and I will keep reference up on my right hand side so I can glance at it while I work. I know I have told this story before, but here it is again. I worked with the great Peter Ellenshaw when I was at Disney, and he would nearly always have a piece of reference in his hand as he painted, even if it didn't relate exactly to what he was painting. He always claimed it was to keep him in touch with reality, and I hope you can take a hint from the master.

4. Look at what better artists than you are doing. I have long been fascinated by Picasso's work, and he has a quote I love:

"Good artists copy. Great artists steal."

What does he mean by that? Look at what other artists are doing, and try to understand it, and take from them what you can. By that I don't mean plagiarism, which will result in your failing the course, but for you to "Grok" the artists you admire. That term was created by the titan of science fiction, Robert Heinlein in "Stanger in a Strange Land", meaning to "drink" them in. I still look again and again at the artists I loved as a kid, starting with Frank Frazetta, Jim Steranko, Robert MCall, Joe Kubert, and every year I add more people to the list I take inspiration from. Lately I have been looking at the work of a contemporary English artist named John Harris, and also following Craig Mullins amazing work. I still haunt the museums, searching out any Monet I have never seen, or a new Pollack. Seriously, feel free to stand on the shoulders of giants--copy if you must, but steal, or drink in, the best of the artists you admire. When we start on our "City of the Future" next week, if you aren't checking out Yanick Dusseault and Dylan Cole's cityscapes for inspiration, you are missing a bet.

Hope that helps! Now I expect to be giving nothing but "A"s for the rest of the semester.

David Mattingly

02-24-2009, 02:39 PM



02-24-2009, 03:15 PM
Below is a photographic panorama of Central Park. Using the original shot as a starting point, I transformed the environment from a "summer scene," into a "winter scene" for my Digital Matte Painting class. I wanted the end-result to look majestic, as if it where taken in some far away Winterscape of Greenland. Below is a video of the shot/pass breakdown. Enjoy!




02-24-2009, 04:12 PM
KConrad - Nice transformation, it looks pretty convincing! The pinks in your sky are quite reminicent of a winter scene where the sun stays lower in the sky. However, i think you overdid it a bit here, as the shadows in the trees lining the other side of the lake have become very saturated (too saturaed IMO). Remember that the snow would have more of the sky colour because of its reflective nature, but the shadows under those trees would have no reason to be so pink. Also, beware of soft blending, which it looks like you have done in the foreground, as it screams digital manipulation. Try and blend by following the correct form of the elements and maybe hand painting areas to join them more convincingly. Nice work, keep it up.

BrandonLori - Nice matte, the cinematic aspect ratio that you have as opposed to Kate's painting help it to feel more like a cimematic image. I have some problems with this image as it looks like your 'summer' image already had snow on the ground and a frozen lake, so you had less work to do. However, you still did produce quite a drastic change. Some pointers. The very dark sky in your matte doesnt seem to correspond to the amount of bright sunlight on the ground. If you are going to put in a very moody sky but want to keep lighter ground, then you can suggest breaks in the cloud to justify patches of brighter ground. That has a knock on effect, because as a result of this, the image doesnt feel dark enough for the lights to be on. Also, same point as Kate, beware of soft blending between elements. Its less obvious here, and id believe you if you said you hadn't but there are areas that feel a little soft (mainly an area right in the centre of the image)..

Keep up the good work guys, look forard to seeing more from the class, and hopefully ill have time later to comment on some others.


02-24-2009, 05:02 PM
Hi Nick,

Thanks for your crit - I appreciate it. As it turns out, before you posted your thoughts, I had already threw myself back in Photoshop to correct at least one of the problems you noticed - which was my over-usage of the clone stamp in right-foreground of the image. As soon as I posted, my eyes started to get caught up in the over "fogginess" of the right-foreground, and before I knew it, it was screaming "Clone Stamp!" Your critique on the lighting is point on, and I'll try and fix that too, if I get the opportunity to do some more touch-ups this week. Your advice makes sense. Thirdly, you're correct - the image was taken as snow was thawing. I kind of fell in love with the image though, and made a deal with myself that if I over-hauled it enough, it wouldn't be as much of a cheat. Although, 95% of the original snowfall in the image was painted over, except for the snow on the island of rocks in front of the bridge. Hopefully this will be okay with my Instructor.

Nonetheless, below is my re-post, with less Clone Stamping, and more texture overlay, in order to make the composition less disjointed. The prior fogginess, I thought, was also starting to look like a bit of a "seam," reminiscent of the old problem Matte Painters used to have, pre-digital. Regardless, thanks for the crit!

PS- now that I'm "previewing" this post I see that it still looks a bit blotchy! Ugh, it's almost like you have to look at your work through 50 different lenses before you see its inherent problems...




02-24-2009, 08:55 PM
I got your e-mail about wanting the plate from class 2 for a project you were working on, and I tried twice sending it to your regular e-mail address, but it got kicked back. If you still need it, let me know, and I can use "YouSendIt".
Thanks for taking the time to offer critiques! You suggestions are always spot on, and I am sure that all the students will benefit from your experienced eye.
David Mattingly

Jim McKenzie
02-25-2009, 06:03 PM

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02-25-2009, 06:05 PM
Hello everyone

Here's my work.According to the advice of David, I have made my "snowday" by means of alpha channels. This method considerably simplifies the process. But, in case of a tonns of snow, I had to use a lot of materials and draw all of the snow cover.

p.s. Heh! It's very pity for me, that I don't live in NY :(



02-25-2009, 07:17 PM



02-25-2009, 08:21 PM


Tentacles are coming out of the ground!!!!! AAHHHHH!!!!



02-25-2009, 08:44 PM



02-25-2009, 08:57 PM



Video should finish processing soon!

Derick Ramirez
02-25-2009, 08:58 PM
i know fuzzy bushes =( for some reason i cant upload my damn video on youtube my damn computer is not letting it happen i'll keep trying and post it later if i get it if not i'll show it in class.

02-25-2009, 09:04 PM
My Summer to winter scene



02-25-2009, 09:27 PM

I'm having problem getting my link to work.


02-25-2009, 09:28 PM


02-25-2009, 09:29 PM
<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/OfJ_6IFWk7g&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/OfJ_6IFWk7g&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

02-25-2009, 09:44 PM

Dan Pochtrager

02-25-2009, 10:04 PM

02-25-2009, 10:50 PM
Beryl Chen_Digital Matte Painting Homework_School of Visual Arts_Week 6



Jiyeon has problem to upload her image. I post for her.

Jiyeon Kim_Digital Matte Painting Homework_School of Visual Arts_Week 6


02-25-2009, 10:54 PM
Beryl's Summer to Winter video


02-26-2009, 07:03 AM
Hi all--
This week an "A" will be if I am fooled into thinking you took one picture in the summer, then came back 6 months later after a snow fall and took a second picture from the same spot. Also, I am looking for close observation of how snow falls on a surface, and the kind of light that you get in the winter months as apposed to the summer months.
I want to mention that there are a lot more "A"s this week, some from students that haven't performed this well before. Congratulations.

So here are this weeks grades:

Akim Phimin--Considering you are in far away Moscow, and don't have the benefit of the lecture, you have done a spectacular job!! I especially like how you got how snow falls on a slanted tiled roof, and how it cakes up on one side of that pointed tower because of the direction of the wind. Your large winter .jpg failed to get posted, so please do that when you get this message, but even the small movie show just how carefully thought out your piece is.
Grade: A

Dan Bradham--Fantastic job! The snow on the hillside is completely convincing, and I really like the cracked ice. Very nice sky replacement--you completely got one of those icy cold afternoons on the Maine coast--not that I've actually experienced one...
Grade: A

Kate Conrad--What happened here? Everything you have turned in this semester has been genius, and then you come up with this ho-hum piece. First off, I don't believe that bird for a second--he look pasted on to the tree, and sort of floating above the branch. Second, this scene is just so simple--you are a very talented student, and I expect you to challenge yourself more than this. Nick (space-sprayer) mentioned that there is a problem with the intensity of the shadow color on the background trees. Remember that it is very unusual to have the saturation of your shadows greater than your light side, and you have a boatload of pink in your shadows here. If you want to pull that effect off, it has to be consistent throughout. You might look at Maxfield Parrish's work to see how saturated shadows can be done
Grade: C

Beryl Chen--Your Niagara Falls scene is alright, but you used new reference material too directly here. For instance, it looks like rocks suddenly grew on the lower left, and they don't match at all what is there in the summer scene. Also, the background trees have been replaced with a nice bare tree grove, but they also don't match at all what is there in the summer scene, and the density of the bare trees doesn't match the cliffs they are sitting on.
Grade: C

Jacek Jurga--You did nicely desaturate your scene, but this weird orangish sky and purplish snow is like nothing I have ever seen in winter. Also, the snowfall looks a lot like big cotton balls falling. I feel like you added the snow to cover up your scene rather than enhance it. Your snow has no definition--it all looks like a big curtain of cotton candy that has covered the ground.
Grade: C-

Jiyeon Kim-- You are not attending my class regularly enough to be permitted to continue auditing it. You must attend each class, and do the homework, of you must drop the class.
Having said that, this is a nice job doing the summer to winter conversion. I like the melting snow in the driveway, and how you added snow to the tops of the bushes.
Grade: B

Brandon Lori--Brandon took my advice and e-mailed his piece on Monday, got my comments, then made corrections. Frankly, what he submitted earlier was probably an "A" anyway, but he made it even better. Also, let me take a moment to praise Brandon's native craftsmanship. Since I have observed him in other classes, I know he always presents his pieces beautifully, and this is another example. The cinematic aspect ration makes this look like a shot from a David Lean film, and adding titles to the piece really makes a nice presentation.
Brandon actually did quite a bit more work than was required, with adding the castle and the mountains behind. The main requirement was to do the season change, which is done beautifully here. If I have a quibble with this piece, it would be that it seems much closer to night on the right hand side of the piece than the left, but the shot is so panoramic that I can almost believe even that. Great job.
Grade: A

Andrea Lowery--You took on the very difficult task of removing all of the leaves from the tree, and creating a new wintertime sky. You also did a very nice job of showing that sort of mucky melted snow you get when the snow has sat for a while, and cars have driven over it. The only thing keeping this from being an "A" are the weird blue highlights in the snow shadows. This looks almost like a Maxfield Parrish (to mention him a second time!) snow scene, only the blue is not consistent throughout the scene. You would be much better off desaturating all of the bright blues in the snow, since there is nothing in this scene to motivate that bright a color in the shadows. But a very nice job, and shows some good thinking. Grade: B

Jim McKenzie--You need some lens cleaner after that snowfall! I wish you hadn't put all this schmutz over your winter scene--I am always suspicious of students who put effects over their scene, since I suspect they are trying to hide something. However, the work you did here is very nice--I love the detail of how you lengthened your friends pants in the winter scene. You definitely captured how snow would look after a light snow fall, and your color correction for winter is very closely observed. If the dirty lens look is just a layer, please remove it, and submit a clean image. But this is a worthy project from you.
Grade: A-

Danica Perry--Once again your wacky sense of humor makes an appearance, but this time I am forewarned. The one thing that bothers me most here are the spots of white on the base of the center pillar, and the streak of white in the left foreground. There is nothing else in the scene that bright, and nothing to create bright whites like that. Even though snow can be specular, unless there is sunlight in the scene, your snow should not be brighter than the sky. This would work better with all of the whites brought down.
But I do like how you have tinted this pink, like a near sunset scene., and the collection of the snow on the top of the pillars is very nice.
I look forward to seeing your whimsical sensibility brought to full fruition on your city of the future!
Grade: B

Derick Ramirez--This looks like you just totally desaturated the scene, which is a good start for a winter scene, but it also looks like building has changed color. Even in winter, this warm stone would look warm, at least in comparison to the color of snow. Your snow looks very soft, but not in a good way. You need more definition where it comes up against the building--not a fuzzy join like you have here. The pooling of the snow on the ledges on all the upward facing surfaces is nicely done--that is the most convincing part of this piece.
Grade: C-

Dan Pochtrager-- The snow on the island it terrific. The way you desaturated the scene totally captures a gray winter day. Just a couple of quibbles--that cast shadow from the bridge on the island is a dead give away. You got rid of the rest of your cast shadows, but failed to get that one. I would have liked this even better if you had taken the time to give me barren trees in the background like Andrea Lowery did, but this is overall a superb job.
Grade: A

Amanda Schwartz--No homework.
Grade: F

Max Thomas--Great job!! You really nailed this one. I think most people would not know this scene was manipulated at all. Great job removing all the shadows, and the application of snow to all of the upward facing surfaces is perfect.
Grade: A

02-26-2009, 07:52 AM
I'm sorry, I have noticed missing picture next morning when I wake up. There was upload error when I was try to reload it. Anyway, here's once again my pictures.

p.s. David, thank you so much for possibility of trainings online, out of your NY class.


Jim McKenzie
02-26-2009, 09:21 AM
this was my original submission with the fog overlay

here is the piece minus the fog,

02-26-2009, 12:40 PM
Thanks, Jim. This looks even better. Your explanation in class that you were trying to get the look of a cheap camera on a cold day made sense, but this is a nice enough piece that it is good to have it in it's unobscured from.

04-23-2009, 03:10 PM
Bringing SVA matte painting threads together for reference