CGChallenge Digital Matte Painting 2013: Kreola!


CGSociety announces Kreola After Earth - Digital Matte Painting Challenge

To celebrate the launch of d’artiste: Matte Painting 3, CGSociety decided to challenge the world’s matte painters to create a stunning matte based on a plate by Milan Schere (one of the Master Artists from Ballistic’s latest book). The challenge will run from 12 September to 11 November.

The aim is to bring Milan Schere’s personal project “Kreola After Earth: Phantom Memories” to life. It is a steam-punk science fiction tale, revolving around a human girl on an alien planet who is caught between the lines at the brink of a war. As the external story arch develops, we gradually discover more about Yuki’s past along the way, ultimately placing her into a key position within the upcoming revolution.

Milan has supplied a photo in which artists must create a locked-off establishing matte. Treat the matte painting as clean-plate without animation elements. Convey a feeling of the city extending into infinity. Retain as much from the plate however much you find necessary to communicate the proper look, and improve the overall appearance of the shot by utilizing Matte Painting techniques. Your goal should be a production quality Styleframe still ready to be presented to the director for approval.

Judges include the 3 authors: David Luong (Senior Cinematic Artist at Blizzard Entertainment who has worked on major titles including Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, and World of Warcraft); Damien Macé (a VES award winner and Emmy nominee who has worked on Game of Thrones, Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Potter) and Milan Schere (a Senior Matte Painter who has worked on Tron: Legacy and Mama). Joining them is Jaime Jasso, who has worked at some of the best studios in the world, like Blur Studio and Industrial Light and Magic. We’re honored to have Michael Pangrazio, an award-winning American art director in the feature film industry best known for his matte painting work on Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back. As a traditional and digital matte artist, he created some of the most famous matte paintings in movie history. His best known painting is the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse interior set-extension at the end of the movie. In 2004 Pangrazio joined Weta Digital in New Zealand as Senior Art Director. He has since supervised such blockbuster installments as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and Bridge to Terabithia (2007). One of his most recent projects was to re-design the Walt Disney cinematic logo which has played before every Walt Disney picture since 2006.

Prizes include Painter x3 from the main sponsor Corel, d’artiste Matte Painting 1, 2 and 3 (including Limited Editions of volume 3), a CGWorkshop and CGTOD Training Packages and CGS CONNECT memberships.


For example: “WIP: KREOLA - David Luong”

**At the end of each week (Friday), we’ll be picking the top WIP thread and highlighting that in the social network of CGSociety as well. So great exposure to the masses if you get picked, and congrats in advanced for this ongoing challenge with some awesome work already! **

  • Work from the plate kreola.jpg, at least 50% recognizable
  • Final submitted resolution will be 1920x1080p, in a standard aspect ratio of 1.78:1 or 2.35:1 in .jpg format at 80% quality
  • Potential to be asked for full resolution working mattes and uncompressed .tiff files later for print!
  • WIP thread in your own name posted in the DMP forum here is REQUIRED…the entry submission button on the Kreola website will be for final entries later on.

We will be monitoring your progress, as well as the occasional feedback. Peer to Peer feedback between everyone is highly recommended! Good luck to all entrants!!

If you have any questions about this CGChallenge, please post them here!


This sounds awesome, David and I hope to be able to take part in it! Unfortunately, school is starting back up for me, so I’m not exactly sure how active I can be on this. But since it’s for two months, I’m sure I can do something.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the variations people come up with! Should be lots of fun.


Hio Bobby,

Awesome! Yes hopefully you can participate in some form even for a little bit :slight_smile: It should be a fun one! I’ll be posting this on FB soon and full social blitz as well.


Hi Milan and David, how’s going

I was waiting for this challenge and will give a try for sure. Nice theme, nice plate as well.

I’m a little bit confused (maybe because of my english). When i read the briefing and look at the plate i imagine a warm environment, almost arid steam-punk, rocky, tunisian souk…

But when i look into the ‘inspirational images’ and also at the challenge/kreola banner there are very green vegetation, tropical rain forrest, etc…
Which way to go ? Arid with vegetation near water ? It’s just me making confusion ?

Thanks a lot and sorry if this is a dumb question




Me too - frankly, I have a couple of questions. I have my own assumptions but it would be useful to know what everyone else thinks.

First question - the brief clearly says ‘Treat the matte painting as clean-plate without animation elements…’ and ‘…ambiance with all the noise, smell and busy buzzing about…’

Can it be both? I’m personally seeing this as a place that’s normally busy but the brief suggests we shouldn’t add anything animated - this is a matte. So it suggests you should imagine the addition of the live plate et al, but we are only supposed to create the backplate. Same statement as a question?? :hmm:

I’m looking at the reference and thinking this must be more of a shot reference - as, it isn’t a tunisian suk - its a street somewhere. It also gives the impression of an arrid environment and as people have pointed out, the title-shot is Gorillas in the Mist! I can imagine the shot falling away to 200m.

BTW I’m not complaining, I like the way this is going to put green-water between peoples interpretations.



Hi I am in, where do we post our WIP? Just put some noodles and doodles on facebook, the plate looks impossible, but you can work it, I would love to extend it left or right.

Also you can make it lush and arid, my theme is hanging gardens of babylon, and trying to get the theme fitted,

nice challenge, and that clock its getting lower and lower each time,




At first I was doubtful because of what the other members just said, the plate is completely different from the inspirational images. But then I noticed that is the point, I mean, we’ll be matte painting it. So our creativity will be seen.

Still other doubts remain like how to get the “…unique ambiance with all the noise, smell and busy buzzing about…” but we’re not allowed to put any animation elements, and then there’s this Rirei person, what to do with him? I’m thinking the instructions are not instructions as well but instead a description of a moment, where we have to take out all elements but the plain matte, Am I right? So Rirei will never be really there.

Sorry bout all the doubts but I’m trying to get this right before starting the project.
Thanks a lot and good luck to all members! :slight_smile: :arteest:


Another doubt, can the plate be minimized to add some more stuff at the edges and the sky? of course retaining the final size necessary dimensions. :slight_smile: Thanks :applause:


Hio Richie,

Great question. Please post all WIP work in this DMP forum. Create a new thread with the syntax WIP: KREOLA - (Your Name)

For example: “WIP: KREOLA - David Luong”


Norberto/Sam: We apologize for the confusion! Milan will answer these for you.


Dear Norberto,

This is a really good question and I’m glad you asked. Please accept our apologies for creating the confusion. The art of Matte Painting is basically to create something that isn’t there, or where the filmmakers were unable to shoot. As such, there are no example Matte Paintings because the artists participating will be the ones creating this environment. Kreola AE is a personal project I’m developing on my own in my spare time. The story involves terraforming an environment but I have only been conceptualizing the humid aspect of the planet so far, and the cover image from the banner is one of the mattes I painted for that region of the planet. The art you create here will be the first visual spark for a vast scenic inspiration that is sure to further assist me in creating the ultimate look. I draw most of my inspiration from Japanese animation and science fiction novels. If we would have included concept art with similar designs, it would have been misleading, as per what we expect for the final result because Matte Painting is not concept art, nor illustration. What we were able to do is point to inspirational Matte Paintings from a technical point of view, such as buildings and structural integration into landscapes, or general feel of a final image.
Further examples would be:

    These DMPs demonstrate the technical excellence but not the mood, or design we’re after. Treat the brief and background information as absolute guideline. We want you to work within the given boundaries but get creative, while executing everything to an outstanding level. We’ve tried to keep this challenge as close as possible to the type of tasks that get tossed at you on regular basis as a professional Matte Artist.
    Think along the lines of “Hoshi no koe” and “Gin-iro no kami no Agito” for inspiration, or even “Last Exile”.

Relevant concept art I have been enjoying is:
Christian Lorenz Scheurer
Brenton Cottman
and after watching Oblivion last week, David pointed Andree Wallin out to me

This is just unrelated visual reference and if you really want to achieve the proper feel, try to think along the lines of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” mixed with some Orson Scott Card logic.

Please feel free to post further questions if this has only created even more confusion. In which case I must apologize.

Thank you again.

Kind Regards,



I am also very interested in this challenge. I think it is a great opportunity.

Maybe it has something to do with the level of my English, but I find the brief and the instructions also a bit confusing. I have a couple of questions:

  1. The brief states: “Create a locked-off establishing matte”. Maybe this is a stupid question, but I have no idea what this means. Especialy the “locked-off” part.

  2. Then it says: “Treat the matte as a clean-plate without animation elements.” Again probably a stupid question, but what do you mean by “a clean-plate” and “without animation elements”?

  3. Is the “kreola.jpg” Tunesia-like street, the plate we have to use to start with? It seems to contradict with the instructions and the inspirational images. We have to retain as much as possible from the original plate, but it seems like there is not much space left in this street to add things… Maybe this is part of the challenge, but I would like to be sure.

  4. Do we have to post the WIP images before we post our final images, or do we have to post them simultaneously with the final image?

Thanks! I’m looking forward to start working on it.

Treat the matte painting as clean-plate without animation elements - See more at:

Create a locked-off establishing matte
Create a locked-off establishing matte
Create a locked-off establishing matte


These are my first posts, so they have to be moderated first. I didn’t see Milans answers while I was typing my questions, so some of my questions may be irrelevant by the time they appear.


That’s awesome, Sam. You made me smile. Thank you. I must apologize again because the way the challenge is being presented seems to be causing some confusion. I have provided the background information as a rough script excerpt but in the page set-up it ended up in the instructions section, which is unfortunately misleading. The brief is what you have to pay attention to. The rest is like an ad-on to help paint the mental image. At work, we get to read the scripts of the shows we’re working on to better understand our environments we’re creating. Likewise, I wanted to give you the same chance and extra knowledge to help you shape this world.
Feel free to disregard the inspirational imagery for now and concentrate exclusively on the brief instead.
As this is a Matte Painting, you should keep it without animation elements. The plate was shot by Fabian Nagel in Greece and already reflects a dry, hot mood with direct sunlight. Make it work for you but don’t let it restrain you. Extend it any way you want but respect the information it already provides.
I believe the way you’re thinking is right and you should get sketching.
Whatever you do: Have fun!


Richard! Nice to see you here. Hope you will enjoy this ride.
Please do not use Facebook. And don’t be scared of the clock.
Without it artists would never get anything done. Ever.
I’d have to say no to the Garden of Babylon but a definite yes to extending the plate in every direction. My personal vision incorporates the plate being only a small portion of the DMP in the end. That is the only way to establish a canyon, in my opinion. While the aspect ratio should remain something realistic for film and television, don’t shy away from going way beyond the plate and building a larger vista.
As David would say: Show me some thumbnails!


Hio Jonas,

I just validated your initial posts, and some questions may still be relevant but we’ll try to answer them as best as possible even after Milan’s answers. We’ll see them post here soon!


Thank you, Mariana.
Under the “instructions” section, it currently displays an excerpt from the Kreola script, which I provided as background information, instead of the actual brief that I wrote for the challenge. This seems to be confusing for participants, and we are working on fixing this but David and I are only moderators and not involved with the layout or other technical aspects of the platform. Please accept our apologies for the confusion once again. We hope to have it sorted shortly in order to make it as clear as possible for everyone. My script excerpt is additional information and not the actual instruction. It was meant to be extra help but you should just keep it somewhere in the back of your head, when you think of how this shot will turn out once comp is done with it, after you hand it of. We only want to see the image that you would hand over to the compositing department.
Let us know if this clears up things. Hope it’s enough to go on and get started.


Basically a shot that doesn’t move, a still shot with no camera move on it. We just want a nice establishing shot to show the world the characters will live in.

A clean plate is a background element in a shot that doesn’t have any people or characters in it, just the environment, be it buildings, the sky, and landscape, but no animation elements like fires, water, smoke, etc.

Yes you should start with the kreola.jpg and then you can turn it into anything you’d like, extend the sides, make it larger, use bits of it, add things, subtract things, so long as you start from that as your basis on your matte painting.

Yes! ALL WIP must be posted here from beginning to final end…post a new thread such as: “WIP: Kreola - Jonas Thomas” that should be the format


Hola Mariana,

Please go ahead and minimize all you want. The idea with the WIP posts is that we will give you notes and feedback like you would receive on a real job. The way you handle those is part of the final outcome.
If you have any more doubts, feel free to post your questions here.

Thank you for asking.


Thanks a lot Milan. I think i got your point and i saw/imagine Dune saga when i was reading the briefing for the first time.
I will start sketching some forms as soon as i can and try to put energy in this matte.

kind regards