DMP Mini Challenge 014 - May 2016 - The Sky Beneath Our Feet


Regarding the aspect ratio and final resolution, will it be HD 16:9 or are we free to do 2048x872 2.35.1 for a more cinematic feel?


Actually, you could even do a poster. As this might be our last challenge, we wanted you to have some serious fun. Make sure to share your work on the socials, so we can show that there is enough interest for these monthly competitions out there. Thank you for all your support, guys.


Hio Guys,

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 May 2016, please welcome Simone De Salvatore!!

Simone is a matte painter/concept designer with experience in films, tv shows and commercials. After graduating in Cinema and Media Engineering in Italy he dedicated one year to learning by himself how to draw and paint. After winning a Master he moved to Hollywood where he attended the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. There he focused on digital sets, animation and vfx.

After two years in Los Angeles, studying and working, he decided to finally specialize in matte paintings. In summer 2011 he left sunny California to start a new career in Munich where he is currently living. Since then he has worked as a freelancer, collaborating with Scanline VFX, Trixter, Look Effects, MPC, Mackevision and many other companies. You can find his matte paintings and designs in films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, winner of the Oscar 2015 for best Production Design, Cloud Atlas, Snowpiercer, Pompeii, Independence Day 2 and Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Some of his DMP works:

See more of Simone’s work here:

Check out his new demo reel:



Hey just a quick question. When we post our finished work, we are supposed to post it in full res right? So I’m assuming we should post a link to another site (or maybe our own portfolios) where we can attach larger images?


You’ll have to link it to an external file hosting site as there’s a size limitation here, but you can still post a preview of the image in smaller resolution here.


Hi guys, thank you for having me, it’s a real pleasure to be a part of this.
All the best to the participants! Looking forward to seeing your works.



Thank you David


I watched Simone’s demoreel for a few times now. I do recommend for everybody to enjoy) I want a career like that)


Yes - it is really impressive! As for “career like that”… That would be dream-come-true for everyone who ever tried matte painting :).



Thank you Alik!


Thanks Jonatan, that’s really kind.


We’re in the process of doing the votes now, stay tuned everyone!


And the winners for May 2016’s challenge are…

1st: Sergey Burdukov

  • A spot in CGWorkshop of choice

Simone’s comments: First of all congratulations for winning our contest! I really like your work, you demonstrated to be able to play well with the light, both artistically, regarding mood and look, and technically, concerning the interaction of the light with the complexity and intricacy of the numerous buildings.
I’m also happy to see such an interesting structure and placement of the main element. I like its design, color and material, so overall a very good choice.
A little constructive feedback for the next time: on the horizon line on the right side there could be a better integration between sky and city, both in terms of atmospheric perspective and scale of the clouds, they would need to be smaller at that distance.
Keep up the good work and all the best for the future!

2nd: Alik Sarkisyan

  • One digital copy of “Advanced Matte Painting” video tutorial

Milan’s comments: I think you did a great job with this image. You have evolved into a strong artist over the course of these challenges and I can tell that your “eye” has become very good. Beyond delivering solid quality work, we also always notice that you take a more unique and riskier path, portraying a very artistic nature. Matte Painting is a lot about how little is enough to fool your audience and you have the stuff that will lead you to working on whatever projects you want in the future.
This poster aspect DMP shows wonderful composition, tremendous sense for colour balance and outstanding attention to detail. The reason you did not win is because your aesthetics outweigh the visual information directly translated from the brief, in my opinion. From a technical point of view, your submission was the best. While you created a mesmerizing atmosphere in your scene, I feel you should have dialed back on the snowstorm and let us see more. Especially of the space elevator.
That said, you do have the right idea about the environment and nailed even the elevator’s architecture. However, even though it’s your choice, you could have pushed the futurism in the look of the buildings far more to present your creativity. My recommendation would be to further channel your head-strong individualism and never pick the safe route in order to continue to set your work apart from your competition. Soon enough, clients will be asking for you because of that. Nevertheless, this was a very important piece for your portfolio to show that you can hit every style required within any production. Very well, smart and efficiently done. Watching your progress and decision making process was impressive. Make sure to share your step by step breakdown for potential future employers to see.
As for the image itself, from a nit-picky point of view, I’d have a few minor suggestions which might help you improve it or hopefully at least spark additional ideas in order to elevate the final piece even further. When you have this much freedom with any art, especially since you decided to depict a scene rather than a static environment, you should always prioritize the viewers experience. What do you want your audience to be looking at, and in which order? You usually select three points of interest and lay them out with the rule of thirds but control the flow by forcing the contrast levels. Meaning, if you blur your vision, you should be able to recognize three areas which stand out, and also be able to tell which one you take in first and what the one thing is that makes your eyes linger. In your case, I still think the actual space elevator could use some more smaller lights to sell scale as well as draw attention. However, it’s a lot about what you don’t see in this case, as in, don’t draw too much attention to the illuminated signs that have no purpose. Visual lines should lead you into the image but not make you spend any time lingering. Do not create any competition. This could be as simple as reducing intensity or changing colours. I believe you have an established sense of this, so feel free to experiment some more.
On a more detailed note, maybe additional reflections on the ground, windows, etc, and possibly softer edges towards the top, letting the buildings blend in better. Might be worth experimenting with something like a depth focus, even though you have an extremely wide angle lens here.
All in all an extremely successful accomplishment that you should be proud of. Bottom line is, you can always keep tweaking everything but it was important to see what you are able to pull of within a hard deadline. Congratulations. And good job art-directing yourself.

3rd: Flipe Rio Branco

  • One digital copy of “Introduction to Matte Painting” video tutorial

David’s comments: Coming soon!

Congrats to all! That might be it from us as far as mini monthly challenges go. We want to thank you to everyone who have participated in the past contests and being active on the forums. Please continue sharing the knowledge, ideas, and posts about digital matte painting in the regular DMP forum. We also want to thank CGSociety/CGMA for allowing us to do this last challenge. It’s been a blast hosting these challenges!


Wow… I’d never expected that…)

Thank you very much!
And especially thanks to everyone who helped me with advices and ideas here on forum.
I’m really glad to become a part of such a friendly and creative society!
You’re awesome, guys! <3


Thanks guys! Had a lot of fun. It’s a pity that there won’t be any more challenges.


Congrats all winners,it’s been very inspirational,thx Millan and David for good challenge and good experience


Thanks Milan and David! That was a great series of challenges, I will miss it. I wonder how to stay in touch with the community, now that we don’t have this.

Anyway) It is a very nice feeling to take place in top 3 in the first one and in the last one). I am honored really) And thanks teverybody to make it a nice forum to visit over the last year and check everybody’s process and progress. I wonder where it will all go from here.



Please continue to post and hang out in the regular Digital Matte Painting forum here :slight_smile:


First of all - thank you Milan, David, Simone, sponsors and of course all participants for this Challenge. It’s hard to accept that this was the last one when I still remember the energy and joy of the first… But I’m glad that I had a chance to be a part of it once more.

Second - congratulations to the winners! You did really great work - enjoy your glory and prizes :). Alik - special congratulations for being in top 3 in the first and the last one :).

As for the question “where it will all go from here”…
The key for development is to set a goal, then try to achieve it as best as we can, then analyse, set a new goal and try to do better than previously… This can and should be done by ourselves, but… why not do it in a good company?
Of course chance of being judged and get feedback from David, Milan and guest judge as well as placing and prizes was a big motivation and inspiration… but… Why not try to preserve some other good things from this Challenges? I believe that it still could live and be motivation, inspiration and fun for us, if there would be at least three ingredients: people, common (more or less) theme and common deadline (maybe with that crazy and intense last night when everyone work passionately to do her/his best :slight_smile: ).

I have some ideas about how it might look exactly, but… first of all - is anyone interested? Even if there would be two, three or four participants at the beginning, it still could be a lot of fun. And who knows how it could evolve in the future?

But no matter what the future will bring to us - again, thank you so much David and Milan for all this Challenges in the past. I have no words to express my gratitude for all you did for me. It was wonderful moments in my life!

Best wishes to all of you!

P.S. And… good luck with “The Sky Beneath Our Feet” movie - I hope it will fly above our heads :).


Congratulations to the winners, awesome work! :smiley:

I wish I would of had the time to complete mine, but I have these competitions to thank for that, in a good way :slight_smile: getting me noticed… as if it wasn’t for these challenges I wouldn’t of improved at the rate I did, or gained the confidence to pursue and truly invest in a creative career. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I wish all of the hosts and community the best wishes for the future!

Big thanks again for your time and devotion to helping us aspiring artists :beer:

kind regards,