DMP Mini Challenge_008 - February 2015 - Exiled Reach


Welcome to the eighth Digital Matte Painting monthly challenge, presented by CGSociety! Time has been truncated as this theme was announced later and the month of February is a shorter month than usual. We apologize, but believe in your abilities to get a shot done within the allotted time. Please use it wisely! 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 (sometimes) a base plate, as well as guidelines. It will be judged as usual by David Luong, Milan Schere and a special guest judge TBA!

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 styleframe 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 x CGTOD, 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: “February 2015 - Alex Jenyon”

Instructions: For this month of February, read the script below, and create a cinematic digital matte painting production Styleframe image based on Part 2a OR Part 7. It’s up to you which you choose! If you go with 2a, there should be no spaceship, just the environment. If you go with 7, it should be painted as if it were the first frame of that sequence (giving you the most coverage in a project matte painting). Follow the requirements outlined below!



    Crash-zoom to satellite view to aerial view of rural alien planet.


 Pilot readying for landing, as the spacecraft quickly approaches the
 landing field.
  1. (Deleted)


 PULL BACK to a shot revealing a vast crevice with a landing
 field situated inside of it. There is a distant hyper engine noise
 and within the canyon we can see the distorted image of a spacecraft
 landing on a highly sophisticated landing field.
  1. (Deleted)


 On the dark landing field power-suited Necromongers begin
 to swarm out of a hatch opening, followed by their commander,
 as he slowly exits the cyber transporter and walks a few steps,

before halting to take in his environment.

  1. through 6. (Deleted)


    A solid structure stretching off into the rock. The CAMERA starts
    to move in until the detailed architectural intricacy fills
    the SCREEN and then CAMERA MOVES THROUGH IT as we see


    Built within the mountain itself, a marvellous high-tech structure
    of great depression…
    multilevelled but human scale, criss-crossed by the solid metal
    reinforcer beams.


    Downshot, as a cyber transporter slides softly to a stop.


 A shady figure ninjas out of the craft, moving swiftly along the

shadows and disappearing through a ventilation shaft opening.

Base Preview:

There is none! All based on your own creativity and take on the script and part you have chosen from above. The only reference is an alien cityscape in a more barren, rocky environment, such as my Monolith City dmp below for part 2A. Also, imagine The Chronicles of Riddick type of rocky environments. But not day time, night time of course according to the script:


  • Capture the visual essence of the script in a Matte Painting based photo-realistic production art illustration using either part 2a OR 7. Read the provided description and come up with your own unique idea based on the story. Matte painting is all about supporting the story!

  • Resolution: Please submit works in both 1000px wide for preview, and 1920x1080p full HD .JPG format in the end.

  • The final image can include atmospherics but should ideally NOT contain animated objects such as water, vehicles (again NO spaceships) or people, as we will be judging primarily based on the clean DMP itself.

  • 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.

We’ll be judging on technical and artistic skills in these. 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:


Awesome challenge this month! Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!


i immediately had two idea pop into my head…one for each 2a and 7. Let’s see if I can make time this month.


This is great! I really like the addition of the script, it’s helpful.


Sigh of relief Its here thankfully! I was beginning to think there wouldn’t be a challenge this month which was upsetting. Thanks David, this sounds awesome! I too can’t wait to see what people do :smiley: Let’s get started :slight_smile:


Welcome on board.


Hi, the theme souds cool. But i have a question: In the script (2a) you say " distorted image of a spacecraft landing on a highly sophisticated landing field."

And in the requierements you say no spaceship…

I´m confused :hmm:


Hio Christoph,

Great question! The script is just the back story and basis of the visual imagery to be created. But, digital matte painting focuses only on the environment. That is why we give you the script of what the environment might be used for as in a story, but no ship is to be included in the shot for the competition, just the environment and the landing field. Hope that helps!


hey Ackdoh,
thx for your fast answer, it helped me. I think will will try a shot on 2a :keenly:


Probier lieber 7. EXT. - PLAZA - NIGHT - WIDE ANGLE LENS
Ist etwas interesanter…


Hi, i hope somebody can help me.

In my forum for this challenge i want to post my basic concept.
I hit the butto “insert image” and copy the url in

But the image isn´t shown, only a little document thumbnail. If i right click these thumbnail i can open a new tab and the picture will be shown.


Hi everyone,

I will not be taking part in this months challenge, its not due to lack of interest, but that fact that I have been contracted to provide a matte painting for a film. I need to spend my time working on that. I wish everyone every success and will pop in time and again to have a look how this is developing, and keep up the good work.

All the best



Each month we feature a professional guest judge from the industry in order to assist us in judging these monthly mini DMP challenges. For the month of February, please welcome Alex Jenyon.

Alex started freelancing in London in the mid 2000’s as a concept artist and texture painter, mainly for commercials. He soon realised he preferred creating final shots to designs that would be interpreted by other people, and moved into matte painting - first for ‘The Mill’, and then as part of the Film and TV crew at ‘Rushes’. He then worked at Cinesite for a while, before making the move from London to Vancouver in 2010 after falling in love with the city on a skiing trip.

He’s been at MPC Vancouver since 2011 - first as a digital matte painter, then as a lead artist, and was made ‘Head of Department’ in 2012.

Currently, Alex is managing a team of environment artists and matte painters on some of the biggest shows around, and looking to keep Digital Matte Painting at the cutting edge of VFX.

His recent(ish) work, including 2014 Oscar Nominated ‘American Sniper’, ‘Jersey Boys’ (Where he also acted as CG supervisor) and ‘300: Rise of an Empire’

American Sniper:



See more of Alex’s work on his website:


Heya all,

Please give Alex a warm welcome and keep in mind that MPC employs the most DMPs amongst any VFX studio in the industry. This is your chance to receive some feedback from the HOD instrumental to a lot of your favourite movie shots out there:


Lots of cool inspiring breakdowns you can check out…


Thanks for the warm welcome guys - makes my job sound SO much more impressive than it actually is… :beer:

Happy to be involved - I’ll try to comment on as many threads as I can. Look forward to seeing the final entries.



Beautiful work, Alex.

Welcome to this great MP challenge David and Milan are hosting and thank you for taking the time to participate this month. I appreciate the feedback you already gave and am hoping for more of the same… preferably in a few days when I’m in that predictable 80% done no-man’s land of self doubt and blindness regarding my own artwork. :slight_smile: It’s incredibly helpful and inspiring to hear a good strong critique, which is why I tend to dole them out pretty liberally myself.

Thank you thank you thank you!

LinkedIn profile


Hello Alex,

Can you tell us a bit about your work on Stardust?
That is a wonderful movie :slight_smile: in my opinion.

You have also worked on John Carter, which was aesthetically very pleasing. Could you compare this month’s theme a bit to the type of professional tasks a DMP would get to do on a science fiction show like that?

For everybody following this mattepainting challenge, you might also want to check out the main forum
for a chance to ask your questions about the amazing environments in Jupiter Ascending :slight_smile:

And make sure you ask the head of MPC mattepainting all the questions you ever wanted to know about working on such blockbusters like Elysium :slight_smile:
because you have only a few days left to do so


Dude, I just saw that you worked on Rock’N Rolla. That’s so cool!!


Hello Alex, you may not realise but you’ve helped me out in the past more than once over on the answering a few questions, so thanks for that! :slight_smile:

My questions are quite general, but I feel as you watch over a lot of matte painters with many different skill sets and levels you’ll have a great perspective when answering these.

It worries me that matte painting is heading into full 3D which I think lacks the beauty and charm that attracted me to this profession in the first place. Partially because the director’s don’t want any angle out of their reach when they are behind the camera, and of course due to ever advancing technology.

I say this because I see a lot of full 3D by artists who label their work as matte painting, but I feel there should always be a painted human touch to the environment, and not be fully calculated by a piece of software. It shouldn’t deviate too heavily from its roots, otherwise I think it should just be referred to as digital environments, and be handed over to the 3D artists.

The reason why I mention this is that I’ve found that a lot of the training material available to artists still today relates heavily to the 2D side of this work and 2.5d projection.

Using Gnomon as a reference which is where I learn’t most of what I know. How relevant to working within a studio environment would you say that kind of training material is for the aspiring matte painter today?

Also I would love to know how common it is for the matte painter to create the concept artwork for a shot, or is this usually supplied by the in house concept artist?

Thank you for your time,

kind regards,



I love this-mini challenge. This is the first time I’m taking part in anything like this. And I’m new to DMP. So I’m excited to learn.