What happened to this place?


It’s true that the more “traditional” Matte Painting work has shifted to television shows with a medium range budget, where every trick in the book still applies, instead of complete environment builds but has 3D killed the magic for you guys or actually gotten you more excited? There is a tendency now for more artistic DMPs to become either concept artists or art directors, while technically oriented ones are evolving into environment TDs.

I remember a time when professionals would come here to share their breakdowns and walk-throughs as soon as their work was released. Be it movies, commercials, cinematics, or even still imagery like advertisement for print. What would draw you back into an online community where you’d actually stop by on regular basis because it tickles your interest? I personally don’t mind those enormous crazy shots with 3D integration where your main thought when they’re showing you how they did it is just perplexed wonderment at seeing to what extent they went in order to get it done,
however… I’m much more impressed watching a case study revealing clever cheap tricks that not only got the job done but completely fooled me because I thought it was created in a much more complicated way! That’s what gets me excited. Smoke and mirrors all the way. Efficiency is true movie magic.

How do you feel about this art form and where does your passion lay? If there was a “follow” button to the DMP forum here, what type of threads/coverage would motivate you to check in here regularly? Which were the most impressive shots, breakdowns, movies,… you have seen in recent past? Things that keep your love for what you do alive? I’m really interested to hear why you want to become a Matte Painter today, or what fuels you to stay one, as the job position is currently undergoing this transition?!?


Hey guys, and thanks to Igor for pointing me to this thread, it’s been (sadly) more than a year since I last visited this forum and I guess that goes to prove how people lost interest over time.

You guys nailed pretty much everything by now so I just want to share my personal feelings on this:

Firstly, let me start by saying that, imho, Nuke and projections are a natural, organic extension of our work - the technique exists to support and complement the painting and not the other way around. And that’s where the line is drawn for me. For the moment when I have to start doing full 3D Enviros and when paint work exists only to support and complement the 3D assets (such as texturing, paintovers etc) is the moment when I lose all interest in this job. Seriously. I am an artistic DMP and, while I have the knowledge to function as a pure 3D environment guy, I would much rather migrate to Art Director or Concept Artist if it comes to that…

And onto that note, I think an Environment department should include people from both sides, which is what we’re trying to do at my current studio. We are having:

  • Artistic matte painters as the backbone of the team - they handle concept art, matte painting (as in photoshop painting, you know) , Nuke projections and rough comps
  • Environment TD-s for modelling and lighting
  • Dedicated Texture Painters so that you don’t use a matte painter time to texture things :slight_smile:

I was wondering the same Alex; I don’t know who’s picking the images there, but they need a good introduction into what matte painting actually is.


1st thanks to Igor to actually remind me a CGSociety site back again :smiley: Ahahah, hey everyone…

  • I think all what was said, it’s pretty much true in terms of changes etc. in dmp world. I actually like to do full shots from concept to the level of precomp/slapcomp from scratch as I did my last almost 4.years, where I was actually assign to sequences instead of shots.

Worst thing (to what I’ve seen) is: Software is changing super fast to catch up… and you need to know it all perfectly…to get/keep job. There are so many that production requires now days like Photoshop, 3ds max, Maya, Nuke, Clarisse, Vue, Zbrush, Mari…etc.etc not to mention rendering software lol. And you need to be at the best to be productive as production want you to. I know most of them, I do use them daily, but I have friends that they are really in total mess… and feel for them as I was at the same place when I was starting - sucks.
NOW IT’S ALL 3D DMP GENERALIST or Environment Artis position and that’s exactly because of what (I won’t talk about) - bidding is. Everywhere it’s so sneaky - as you all know :slight_smile:

And to add a few words: honestly here or mattepainting.org, I haven’t been there for very long time, maybe sporadically once a year, just to let people know that I am alive… from my point, it is just to be super busy and + I get to know so many people, that they see my work daily, that I don’t have to really keep publishing it. + It’s more about professional work rather than personal - which people mostly post somewhere. And in my free time I do alot of different things (oils, hiking, photography, travel… etc) :slight_smile:

I just wanted to add a few words quickly.

To add the final note? - That’s why I want to switch to Oil Painting when I will be 40 !!! :smiley:

But… I must say, that everywhere I’ve been, I have had a great time and super helpful people around.

Have a great time guys! :slight_smile:


Hello everyone, its great to see the people that I saw many years ago start out on this forum, looking around lots of you working in big ticket agencies which is brilliant.

As for me I am not in a big ticket agency (yet). I call my self a matte painter and in the last year have had sponsorship from a benefactor from the VES panel. He has introduced me to Nuke, Cinema 4d and have been quietly working in the background to improve my skills. I am not in the league as you guys, but that does not bother me in the slightest.

During the last ten years it started having to learn photoshop for me, which I have mastered. Then 3d modelling, photographic work, training as a BBC camera operator. I have been trained by the worlds best photographic lighters, and cinematographers. All because of this forum.

The thing that makes me carry on is that I enjoy the art, and have been trying desperately to get into the invisible side of it. Period dramas and set extensions when done right give me more appeal than the tent pole Marvel/DC/Star Wars films ironically. I am becoming a ninja at camera projections within cinema 4d (very underated 3d program) also within Nuke itself.

The only downside of matte painting is that to do it and do it right even as a hobbyist is that the software will cost eventually more than a family car. Nuke, Modo, Mari are amazing but pricey. So I have been looking at cheap alternatives, Fusion, Serifs Affinity Photo, I sometimes do my base modelling in sketchup then bring into cinema 4d for finalising. Quietly I am enjoying the 3d modelling side of life, (though I despise Blender Sorry Dave!).

I really appreciate David and Milan running the monthly competitions, I have yet to place in them but that does not bother me, the bit I enjoy is learning and the interaction with others. I have a reputation on the forum as being the ice breaker on MP comps on here, seriously no one posts for days, I show my whole process good or bad.

Noticed that the matte painting work I do get is fixing it in post, and lots of creeping right of tasks and responsiblities. It takes a lot of effort to instruct and train clients what a matte painter actually is. Garrett Fry has a awesome website where I can leave clients to peruse.

Whilst this forum is going I have one goal, that is to produce invisible art on a desk next to one of you guys. Keep up the good work matte painters!



Personally I spend probably 70% of the time doing 3d and 30% painting these days. The possibility of using 3d for full environments has led to Directors changing their mind over and over again. Deadlines becomes shorter and very little time is left to add those artistic imperfections that would give most matte paintings a natural feeling. In most films these days everything feels to clean and perfect.

I think the 2d approach still has it place in static shots and for commercial projects with smaller budgets.
There’s still no renderer out there that can compete with a high-res photo in terms of realism and time-saving.
The good thing with being able to venture into 3d is that you can cut out the middle man so to speak. No longer do you have to wait for a TD to give you those light passes or a compositor to put your environment setup together in nuke. The drawback however, comes in terms of a steeper learning curve. Photoshop has become the most basic application you have to know among software’s like Zbrush, Mari, Terragen that takes years to master on their own. And for those who has no interest in 3d whatsoever will soon find themselves struggling to keep the title of a modern Matte Painter.


This was a very interesting read for me, and as this has not been commented in about two years now I would like to see what you think about this today? Has anything happened?

I am trying to figure out how to become a “3d matte painter” (or whatever the title is now) in the modern world. I am more technical that painty, and I adore you guys who are the other way around. So this development suits me right, but I think there should be a new title for this. Matte painter for me is a master painter that can add magic to a scene in a cost effective way, not a 3d generalist that fixes things because they have the ability to see what’s wrong.

And what software is a must-have? I have Modo and Mari now. I am looking to add something to render large scenes (Clarisse??) as Modo can’t do it (maby I should ditch Modo?). And as I understand it, Nuke is a must have? It’s so expensive! Do I really need Nuke X or even Studio? I will have to sell the car…
Or should I switch to Maya, Max, C4D or even Blender?
Is there a good gumroad, pluralsight, lunda tutorial that I should watch?

I will be really happy if you guys took the time helping me and others who will read this.

Sorry if this took the thread in a new direction, feel free to remove this post if so.


We’re not going to remove your post for being honest and curious. Thank you for keeping it alive.

Currently, there are some exciting developments happening all over. While the big
studios adopted the 3D conveyor belt system, thanks to more people
staying home and watching Netflix, we’ve now entered a 2nd Renaissance
of Matte Painting (or Filmmaking) all together! Environment work on
Marvel movies has become very technical. I’ve had to paint up entire 3D
scenes in Mari etc. Tip: That’s where the UNPROJECT function is a DMPs
best friend. However, smoke and mirrors have fully returned simply
because of the time and money restrictions. The small screen is the new
Hollywood and real efficiency has become once again the key if you’re on
a budget.
Look at Game of Thrones or Penny Dreadful. Those productions
don’t have the luxury to make up their minds about the
position of a camera in an establishing shot two weeks before final
delivery. Matte painting has come full circle and we’ve returned to
creative problem-solving with a keen eye for painting with light. Actual
brush strokes have returned like LotR style. Meanwhile Environment
Artists have also evolved and their craft has become equally impressive
from a technical point of view!

In my opinion, the two have separated and
successfully split up. When you set out to study VFX and
enter the industry creating digital backdrops, you must clearly pick 2D
or 3D today. Matte Painters are taking on a lot or all post production
art direction work by creating styleframes, which is the equivalent of
photo-realistic concept art utilizing DMP techniques. And environment
artists can light, texture and render passes in various packages such as
Maya, Modo or Cinema4D.

A lot of us had to pick recently. Some of us have
moved on but the same love of filmmaking persists. I
personally rediscovered my roots and the original intention why I wanted
to be in the industry. Leading others has now eventually lead me to
directing and in the most recent past I’ve had the chance to direct some
commercials, music videos and short films. Our friend Damien even got
to direct a feature which hit cinemas last year and is now available on
Netflix: https://www.wmfilmmakers.com/

David and I took up a passion project ourselves:
The Sky Beneath Our Feet https://www.facebook.com/theskybeneathourfeet/

And that’s why this forum has been suffering because everything together
has become a tremendous organizational undertaking. Coupled with Matte
Painting seemingly having divided into Art Direction and 3D Art, the
future of this space has been rather unclear for a while now. That said,
if there’s enough interest we are happy to keep the ball rolling.
Besides all the huge VFX studios working on the blockbuster box office hits,
the majority of DMP work is in commercials, music videos, TV, VOD, even
YouTube and VR!! There is a big demand for Matte Painting again and this
might be a great opportunity to discuss all those aspects right here
right now!!

Let us know what you all think.


Thank you Milan, nice to hear that you guys are back in the VFX-wizards seat again.

As I am not a native English speaker or have much knowledge of the VFX scene, I have some questions to clear things out for me, if that’s ok.

So as I understand it, there are two lanes to choose from as a DMP today, 3d or 2d? Or is it Matte Paint = 2d and Environment Artist = 3d?

I saw a video of Steven Messing some time ago, and it blew me away. And that’s what sparked my interest.

My question is, what path should I start if I want to do stuff like Messing?

And another one, I hold a Creative Collection license with Foundry now (Mari and Modo). It’s time to upgrade it and I have some problems with Modo (clunky and bad at larger scenes), should I buy the maintenance or should I put my money on Cinema 4D (and projection man)?
And do After Effects work to start off with (Nuke is so expensive), or is this outside of the DMP scope?


[quote=]That said,
if there’s enough interest we are happy to keep the ball rolling.
Besides all the huge VFX studios working on the blockbuster box office hits,
the majority of DMP work is in commercials, music videos, TV, VOD, even
YouTube and VR!! There is a big demand for Matte Painting again and this
might be a great opportunity to discuss all those aspects right here
right now!! [/quote]
This was a great read for me as well! I for one would certainly be interested in hearing more. I’m in a “jack of all trades” position at the moment, but Matte Painting has always been one of my favorite parts of the process. Would love to see some of the challenges return, or even just occasional updates on what everyone is doing!


Something I am currently looking at is making environment a category of forums alone instead of grouped in. It is so diverse now and many of the studios have moved away from the “matte painting department” instead opting to merge 3d concept, Layout, etc what would be the ideal group of forums to put together in your opinion or do we just group everything into one colossal Environement thread?


I wouldn’t toss everything in one bag. Some one interested in environment concepts doesn’t necessarily want to check out any 3D renders etc.

Visual effects has borrowed the term “Environment Artist” from the Video Game industry and this refers to results out of a 3D render engine without any paintovers. It is more of a technical art form utilized for large-scale sequences with extra big camera moves and fly-throughs, or interactive lighting.
An actual “3D Matte Painter” uses a variety of 3D and 2D tools, bringing everything together as needed on each shot. This is usually less time consuming and regarded as today’s smoke and mirrors of filmmaking.

As we tend to be discussing imagery here that has gone through a final coat of Photoshop goodness, I’d recommend keeping it all under the “Matte Painting” banner!