DMP Mini Challenge_001 - July 2014 - Skyship Cove


Welcome everyone to the first Digital Matte Painting monthly challenge, presented by CGSociety! These short monthly challenges will give you a chance to hone in your skills or learn new ones. We will be providing a different theme each month, with a base plate, as well as guidelines. It will be judged by myself, and Milan Schere with guest judges in the future.

These are meant to be fun while at the same time, allow you to hopefully, create a nice looking piece in the end (and win some prizes if you place in the top 3!). These pieces will be a production style frame to be presented to the client for approval, so it could be a clean matte painting, or a concept in photo real quality. As always, supporting the story according to the theme is paramount in both technical terms, and creative terms.

All skill levels of artists are welcome in this challenge!

The prizes for top 3 placements are:

1st Prize: 1 x CGWorkshop, 1 xCGTOD, 1 x Ballistic Book of Choice, 1 x CGSConnect Membership
2nd Prize: 1x CGTOD, 1 x Ballistic Book of Choice, 1 x CGSConnect Membership
3rd Prize: 1 x Ballistic Book of Choice, 1 x CGSConnect Membership

Required in every monthly challenge to qualify for the prizes:

An early rough concept of your idea, at least TWO W.I.P’s (work in progress drafts) in the forum for critiques or you will not qualify. Your final draft must be delivered on or before 11:59pm PST on the last day of the month of the challenge.

To enter, simply create a new thread in this forum with the DATE of challenge and name such as: “July 2014 - David Luong”

For this month of July, the theme is “Skyship Cove” and the brief as follows:

“The skyship moored beside a dozen other, high above the clouds. The captain took a long glance at the wondrous city below, already dreading the deep feeling of disappointment once his feet touched a solid structure again. Given the diverse mix of their capitol’s relatively modern architecture, enormous dwellings of glass, concrete and steel seem to be shaping the character of his least favorite sky port. It’s not a lack of grandiosity but rather that of its missing human soul which gave this beautiful place a sense of unease.”

Base Plate Preview:

Base Plate Download, 16-bit .TIF full resolution

If you are having trouble downloading it from Dropbox, you can download it at an alternate link here .

Objective: To create a full HD 1920x1080p digital matte painting production style frame . This can include “still frames” of animated objects such as water, vehicles, atmospherics, particles, but this is to be a finished still frame image as if presenting to a potential client.

  • Take the base plate we have provided, extend it to the right as shown below, and work at double resolution of final output, which is 3840x2160. You then scale down at the end and present here at the end of the challenge at 1920x1080 HD resolution (Don’t forget to save a duplicate for this image resize, not on the original working file!)

  • Read the brief and come up with your own unique ideas based on the story, it should be inspired from the reference images and the brief.

  • Keep the red portion of the original base plate, discard the rest and use a mix of 2D and or 3D techniques to digital matte paint in the rest. Extraction cleanliness will be part of this monthly challenge.

  • Feel free to alter the original color of the base plate so that it fits in to your new environment overall. But, match the original lighting as best as possible!

  • Works in progress (W.I.P.) MUST be shown here in order to be considered for prize placement. You must have at least a basic concept, AND at least two rough versions posted in the forum for critiques or you will not qualify.

Tip: You’ll want to create an environment in which you are high up in the sky, and adding a nice major focal point subject on the right hand thirds of the composition would be ideal, with micro compositions through out to lead the eye.

Some inspiration for this theme by the amazing Neil Maccormack:

We’ll be judging on clean matte edges, lighting direction and color accuracy according to the original plate, and creativity based on the brief in this challenge. Good luck to everyone! Please feel free to ask any questions here.

As always, you can ask general digital matte painting questions, and post WIP work not pertaining to this challenge in the regular DMP forum here:


Well this sounds really really cool. I’ll admit I don’t have any experience creating matte paintings but I always admire the work of others.

Got room for a total DMP noob? :smiley:


Hio Wyatt,

Definitely, it’s for all skill levels, join on up and learn some things a long if you like! :slight_smile: Would love to have you!


Yes. This idea sounds really good.


Going to be in for this I think


Heyo Jason,

Glad to see you be apart of it!!


I’m in for this! Thanks for the Challenge!



Just to be clear, we can colour correct the red part of the base plate but nothing else? No editing of this area apart from cc?

thanks :slight_smile:



Hio Thomas,

Yes you can color correct it later on as a whole to match your overall image, but stick with the lighting as closely as possible. Don’t add anything else to the base plate in the red either.


Hi all. I’m ready for this… also started to think about the city. Thanks for this contest.


Yes! I hate that i have not that much time this month and i read this with already 8 days gone… but i’m giving it a chance! Nice challenges! (is it going to be 1 per month?)


omg this challenge is exactly what I need right now, thanks for this! :smiley:


Welcome all! You can definitely join still, lots of time left! Also, feel free to comment on other people’s threads. Us mods are here to mostly keep the rules in line and give some feedback here and there if we get time.


I’m thinking I need to get off my ass (okay, actually sit more on my ass) and join one of these already. I tried to dl the plate but the link seems broken. Does it work for anyone else?


Come on in the challenge Richard :slight_smile: Ahh, I just tried the download link to the plate, it still works on this end. If you can’t download it after a few more tries, I’ll upload it to my personal FTP for you.


Should we post WIPS in this thread? I’ve done some stuff - not sure if it’ll ever get finished but happy to share and get feedback.


Hi Darth,

Nay, per the guidelines in this thread, please create a new thread in the forum with the syntax of “month - real name” so it would be “July 2014 - Darth Mole” but it would be your real name instead of Darth Mole of course. Good luck!


Still can’t dl it, but it may be because dropbox is blocked at work, not sure. Will try to dl it at home this weekend.


Evil work! :stuck_out_tongue: Ok np, I’ve added an alternate download area, my direct FTP. This will be linked at the main post too under alternate link:

Lemme know if that works.


Hi all, I have a question. I am new to photo realistic painting, I don’t use real pictures in my paintings so since I am learning and a noob at this, does the whole painting have to have stock photos in it or can I paint without them? I don’t have any stock photos in my arsenal to use really lol. Just wondering.