DMP Mini Challenge_008 - February 2015 - Exiled Reach



Where do I post my final image? Do I create a new post in this thread:

Mini Challenges > Digital Matte Painting Mini-Challenge > DMP Mini Challenge_008 - February 2015 - Exiled Reach

Or do I just add it on the same thread as all my WIPs:

Mini Challenges > Digital Matte Painting Mini-Challenge > February 2015 - David Ferreira

This is my first time taking part in the challenge, and I don’t want to screw it up. :wip:



Hio David,

Welcome to the challenge! Please post all of your work and final work (including a post or link to your final full HD image) in your own WIP challenge thread. Thanks!


Morning All,
Been agonising over whether to pitch up for this challenge - love the themes but there are so many great entries each month. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained and I want to improve so I’m giving it a go although I know its a bit late in the day for this month. Prelim sketch / modelling as soon as I can figure out how to start my own thread and include images…


I’m a bit embarrassed to ask this question, but I don’t know how to set up the resolution for the final entry.

The requirements ask for both 1000px wide for preview, and 1920x1080p full HD jpg format.

If I understand correctly, for final preview I need to make sure the longest side is no more than 1000px wide. I also need an additional jpg, but this one will measure 1920x1080p.

My current PSD file is set to 1920x1080p with 300 resolution.


Correction - I see it now, my mistake.

(Hi, me again.
I tried creating a new Feb 2015 thread yesterday but it doesn’t seem to have appeared yet - have I messed up somewhere?


Can you tell us a bit about your work on Stardust?

Rushes in London mainly did TV work, but they got some overspill work on ‘Stardust’. There were a couple of small set extensions, where the camera had accidentally drifted off the small piece of set they built - nothing very difficult or impressive, but it was my first feature film shot.
It was also my first time dealing with a film colour pipeline, and I got it very, very wrong initially. The plates were log .dpx images, and hence looked very milky and ‘washed out’ in Photoshop. I knew this was not how it was supposed to look, but didn’t know I needed to apply a look up table (LUT) to convert the image to sRGB, as I’d never needed to before.
So I graded it by eye to match the edit ref, and very proudly handed back my first shot. It was garbage. The comp supervisor thought it was hilarious, but gave me a crash course in colour management in about 10mins, and I did the shot again in a couple of hours. That’s in the movie.

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

Only a couple of shots, but I think one of them was the biggest DMP I’d done at that point, which was awesome. It’s also the only shot I’ve ever composited for final -in shake, just before apple killed it… :frowning:

It worries me that matte painting is heading into full 3D

This is a topic I think a lot about (and I’m creating a presentation about it right now). This will therefore be a bit of an essay - TL:DR = no, it’s not, but it’s only one piece in a larger toolbox

It is certainly true that very few shots are ‘lock off’ DMPs any more (though I’m working on one right now), and almost all shots thus require some level of projection work, and a more technical approach than simply working 2D in Photoshop.

On the other hand, building everything in 3D out to the horizon is time consuming, expensive, and often doesn’t actually look better than a DMP - but it is more flexible, and open to last minute changes.

There is also an interesting development in the use of the new(ish) physically-based renderers (renderman19, Arnold, Vray, Hyperion, etc). Rendering very large scenes is VERY expensive in terms of render resources, and the result is often quite noisy, so time saving workflows are being proposed… Such as rendering hi-res single frames and re-projecting them.

And if re-projection is happening ANYWAY, why not send it through DMP for an extra level of detail and photo realism?

My opinion is that the way forward is a fully integrated ‘environments’ department, which has matte painters, environment TDs, environment modellers and environment dedicated lighters all working together in one team. The team (not the supervisors) can then make the decision as to what should be DMP’d, what should be rendered, and what should be a hybrid of techniques. Most shots will then contain some aspect of digital matte work, some modelled and rendered 3D, some projection work, etc. as appropriate to get the shot done in the most efficient way.

A supervisor with a vision, trusting their environments team, can get a huge expensive-looking shot completed in only a few weeks. Without that vision, building everything in 3D can allow important decisions to be postponed until very late in the process, but at a huge financial cost.

I’m therefore banking on DMP being one of the tools used to create environments in VFX for a long time to come, but in combination with ‘newer’ techniques such as photogrammetry, 3D painting, non-polygon based sculpting, and physically based materials.


DPI does not matter, just save out your PSD file to 1920x1080p compressed such as a .JPG or something. For the preview image, you can Resize it to 1000px wide, and it will set your height accordingly, then save that out as a .jpg too.


Thanks David : )


Awesome, and re-assuring to me lol. Thank you very much for the information. I must say I’m not formerly trained about the technical side of matte painting, or VFX in general this is something I want to change however, but I do understand the concept behind what you’ve said. Thanks again!


And the winners for February 2015’s challenge are…

1st: Vera Sakhnuk

David’s comments: The CG structures in the scene have some beautiful modeling and shapes to them. I also really like the inner lighting of it. Black level wise, it could be pushed just a little more blue/purple to match the atmosphere. You can go a little more purple/blue in the black levels for the FG rocks too to match, but not as bright as the BG. Exposure wise, you could go a little darker in the FG and mid ground elements, giving it more of a silhouette feel. The far BG mountains could also lose their light, and be more back lit. They seem a little more front right lit right now, albeit dimly. The details in the back on top of the mountains seem out of place too with the forest and trees in this barren rocky environment. One more thing is the clouds are ok, but the stars near the bright part of the sky look a little compressed, low res, and stretched. Try to go a little more contrasty, dark in the sky, and maybe a little sharper on the stars.

Milan’s comments: Your composition and framing are good. Your architectural design is creative and interesting, and your integration of the photo elements within the environment is working well, even though you’re still a few steps away from a final Matte Painting. Where your image could mainly improve is your lighting. It being a night scenario, I suggest spot lights in the form of flood lights used on construction sites. You can then paint with light and shadow, leading your viewer through the image exactly the way you want. Maybe bring down the sky a few stops as well, and reduce the highlights in the BG mountain, to make it look less like a day to night conversion.

Alex’s comments: This was one of the more photo-real entries this month. It doesn’t entirely read as a ‘landing site’, but it has a great sense of place and scale. The architectural details are fantastic, and the left tower in particular is well integrated into the scene.
There were some technical issues with the image - the distant rock wall in particular, which looks lit from the right in a backlit scene. I would also say (like most of the other entries) that the image as a whole looks under-exposed.
I’ve done a paintover of all the top entries - here is my suggestion of how you could push this image further:

2nd: Tim Byrne

David’s comments: Great diagonal shapes here in the structures below that give it a great sense of scale and composition. The rock structures on the left have some nice texture to them, although I think the lighting could be worked on some more. There’s lots of mist and atmosphere in the shot, which is great, but it would obscure more of the lighting, giving it more of a dappled lighting in this scenario. It could really hone in on your focus for the composition rather than showing too much. I think the right hand side is nice to convey such lighting. Just go with a little less on the left and focus on a few areas, closer to your focus point in the middle with the orange top towers. The peaks coming out of the mist in the far right middle BG is looking great too. Some spots sin the middle where the platforms are is probably going a little too blue green, and it could be more consistent with a desaturated blue color, reflecting the environment light instead. Overall, great mood!

Milan’s comments: I really enjoy the organic flow of your image, sucking me into the scene. There is a stark contrast between the realistic feeling quality in your rock textures compared to the painterly architectural structures, hence making your image feel more like a concept art piece rather than a Matte Painting. Using more texture overlays to add variation and also complete large chunks of photographs colour corrected into your environment would make the man made elements sit more naturally.

Alex’s comments: This piece was the most impressive entry this month in terms of scale and concept. There is a great ‘epic’ feel to the image, and it fulfils the brief very well.
In terms of technical execution, this feels more like a piece of polished concept art than a photo-real painting - there are lots of smudged / muddy details and overlapping forms that take away from the realism of the image. I would love to see this polished up into a finished DMP.
I’ve done a paintover of all the top entries this month - here is a suggestion of where you could take this image, if you wanted to push it a bit more:

3rd: Hemal Patel

David’s comments: Love the energy fX coming out from the pods, leading through the road to the platform and structure on the right ground. Though the perspective of the saucer shapes along the ground seemed a little skewed some spots, so it throws me off as my eye goes through that electrifying pathway. Vue is a great tool for terrain generation, but there are times that it generates some noticeable patterns that could be varied up some more through a little more of the erosion or displacement tweaking. You can also enhance the look through photos to add on top for extra detail to break up the patterns a bit. Lighting wise, the strong star/sun spot could be moved more to the right so that it would make sense that the left side cliff is catching so much light, where in this scenario, it would be more back lit. The blobs that make up the structures on the left side cliff are pretty interesting, but I think their surface quality could use more lighting/shadow to integrate it into the environment. It seems pretty flat and too stretched in some spots. For your sky, the clouds and planets are a little too low res/blurry and could be more sharply defined at 100% resolution. Probably also have the purple type moons be a little more sharp and have more consistent top rim lighting that it would receive from the sun direction here.

Milan’s comments: The Vue render looks quite nice, and your sci-fi elements are intriguing. The overall Matte Painting appears unfinished but my main critique would be the lack of focus. Your swivel thingies lead up to the main structure, without it creating a real centre of interest. Make the building brighter and be the actual prize that we get after following the landing strip up to the actual point where everything converges.

Alex’s comments: This fulfils the brief perfectly - a high tech landing pad in a canyon isn’t something that any of us have actually seen, but I think you have a done a great job of creating such a complex concept.
The design of the landing area, and the overall composition is great - and I agree with David that the energy FX are fantastic.
Vue is a great tool to create the ‘base’ of a matte painting, but it ALWAYS needs a lot of paint work and photo details to bring it up to a decent level of realism. This therefore looks unfinished - a solid base on which I would expect a lot of work to still occur.
Here’s a suggestion of where you could push the image, should you wish to:

The winners will be getting:

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

Congrats to all! Thanks to everyone for joining, and we hope to see you next month for April 2015!


Bravo !
Congratulations to winners.
Very realistic work.
See you next month



Thank you guys!


congrats to the winners! great entries :slight_smile: cheers dave


Congratulations too all of you, really great work :thumbsup:


Congrats to the winners! :thumbsup:


Well done! They all look great, congrats.


Congratulations to all winners. Lots of nice images in February!

See u next in the March challenge! :thumbsup:


Thanks for permitting me to participate - many congratulations to the winners.


Congratz guys!


My WIP for the matte painting for this contest…