Friday, 9 February 2018

Introduction

This blog is aimed for anybody who is seriously considering becoming a digital matte painter (DMP) but is not sure on how to go about it or is after more direction. This was something I encountered when graduating and would have greatly appreciated at the time.

I'm a DMP working in television and film since 2011. Some of the projects I've worked on include Kill Command, Independence Day Resurgence and The Dark Tower, to name a few..

Something to be mentioned is that this is not to say that there isn't or wasn't information at the time I realised that this was my desired career path but is merely intended in being a brief history into how I went about becoming a DMP which maybe useful information to some.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Chapter 1 - Reel

Before going to the beginning I want to start at the end by showing my most recent reel. By no means is it necessary to have a reel containing this many shots when beginning and is more than is needed to get a job in DMP, I feel as though it's important to show the final result before my early endeavours.

I would classify myself as a DMP although I have a solid understanding of CG. I have a comprehensive knowledge of Photoshop, Maya, Nuke along with Mental Ray, Arnold, V-Ray, Mari, Photoscan and Speedtree at present.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Chapter 2 - Why DMP?

From an early age fine art and in particular learning how to draw was something that I was passionate about. This passion led me into studying art at A - level where I would be able to further this skill. At that time I was uncertain about what I would do with this but it didn't concern me.

Once my A - levels were complete I decided that taking a one year foundation art course would be a good step and by doing so I would be able to further my drawing skills and get some guidance on possible career options.
After the foundation course, back then, the Animation Production course at my local university seemed the best way to further my drawing skills even more and also offer a possible career path becoming an animator so I decided to take the leap and undergo the three year course.

During my second year at university I came to realise that although I enjoyed animating to a degree it wasn't my true passion. Being able to draw and paint with a more fine art approach appealed to me much more than just animating so I decided to re evaluate my game plan.
Back then you had the option on the course of either being able to animate or become a layout/ background artist. To me the latter seemed to make more sense as it leaned itself towards something which interested me more. Being able to draw/ paint and not just draw/ animate.

After graduating I realised that I enjoyed working realistically and that animating wasn't what I wanted to do. This led me into beginning a concept art portfolio but what I realised whilst doing this was that character design did not appeal to me so much in comparison to environment.

One of my close friends who studied on the same course as me was exploring digital matte painting at the time and after hearing loosely what it entailed I came to realise that this area really had strong appeal to me.
Looking back now I realise that after a quick Google search of what DMP was and stumbling across the work of Dylan Cole, in particular his contribution to LOTR, I realised that this is what I had to do and so began my journey into becoming a DMP.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Chapter 3 - Education and continued learning - Traditional art principles

Something I can't emphasise enough through having worked as a DMP for a few years now is having a comprehensive understanding of traditional art principles. These include drawing, light and colour, perspective and composition. These are the foundations for every DMP I've ever worked on and before landing a job in DMP in my opinion one should have a firm grasp over them.

From studying Animation Production for three years one if not the only things I gained from doing so was being able to further my drawing skills. By no means am I somebody with great skill but am able to draw technically sound from observation. What learning to draw will teach you and is vital in my experience when it comes to DMP is scale/ proportion through having to observe and measure along with such other things as perspective. One of the biggest things you will learn from drawing is being able to record what you are seeing. Being able to observe and understand what you're seeing and replicate it comes in very useful when working in DMP.

In its most basic form an example of this could be modelling a house. Being able to get all of the proportions of the house accurate is very important. Another example could be if you look at a plate but don't understand where the points of perspective are or take them into consideration then you're going to have issues.

Something I soon realised after I finished my university degree was that although I could draw my understanding of light was somewhat lacking. In order for me to improve my understanding of this I read up on the subject as well as watched video tutorials.
What immediately jumps to mind and for me and should be read by anybody who needs to improve their understanding of light is Light for Visual Artists by Richard Yot along with watching the gnomon workshop DVD Practical Light and Colour by Jeremy Vickery. In relation to perspective and the fundamentals of composition a great book to read is The Art of Layout and Storyboarding by Mark Byrne.

Something I do on a regular basis and for me is a key part of learning traditional art fundamentals is always observing the world around. Continually I find myself asking.. Where's the horizon line? What points of perspective am I seeing? Where is the direct light coming from? By observing the real world and understanding what you're seeing you're rehearsing the typical questions that arise when dealing with a DMP.

A little after my graduation I had the pleasure of speaking with a senior DMP who gave me the essentials of what I needed to do to become a DMP. The first thing he mentioned to me and what I've just mentioned to you is that a comprehensive understanding of light is absolutely key in DMP. My realisation of a necessity to further my understanding of light came through having spoken to this person and as soon as I did so things started to make much more sense in terms of what I was doing.