4/25/2015

interior study


Here is a latest color study I did.  I used as reference a photo of a Japanese castle I took with my camera last time I went there. It was great to paint the window light bouncing to the interior walls and the reflections of the varnished wooden floor.

4/06/2015

Matte Painting - Hidden Shrine


Matte Painting Hidden Shrine from Pedro Colmenares on Vimeo.

It’s been a while since the last time I did an animated matte painting shot!
Usually I just make a 2D matte painting or illustration and I stop at that point. I don’t really have a lot of time to deal with all the technical aspects involved in turning a 2D painting into a 2.5 live environment. Projection setups and long renders take a tremendous amount of time!
But I had a couple weeks off from work and not much to do so I just jumped in.


inspiration
I got instant inspiration when I started playing 2013’s Tomb Raider. It didn’t take more than 45 minutes for me to fall in love with the visual style, the mood and environments.
My recent trip to Japan at the end of 2014 was another huge source of inspiration, plus, I had the chance to shoot a lot of elements with my camera so I had a pretty big library of cool material.



shot study and cameras
Before jumping to do the fun matte painting stuff I studied the type of camera move I wanted for the shot. I had in mind the idea of an establishing shot that could be used as the opening shot for a film or cinematic. I wanted to slowly reveal the the shrine and show the environment surrounding it. A simple move of the Camera Tilting Up and Travelling Forward slightly worked just fine for this purpose. This move would help to reveal the selling point and the slight forward motion would enhance the 3D space creating parallax between the different elements in the scene.
Once I was happy with the camera, I did a quick layout with very rough geometry to establish the space and to study the amount of parallax and level of detail that the projection geo would need to have.

Working on the cameras and layout is essential before jumping into any environment work!
Once I know how the camera move will be, I will know how much Overscan will I need to cover the environment that is visible through the camera for example.



matte painting in Photoshop
Time for fun!
I already had a decent base from the quick 3D geo, so I would only need to follow it and replace it with photo elements.
Before starting the painting though, I gathered as much references as I could and prepared them so that I could just drop them into my DMP file, move them around and integrate them in the environment. 

DMP vegetation elements
So for example, if I needed tree elements, I would search for 10-15 trees I liked, key/prep all of them and saved them in a mini-library I created for the project… The first 2 or 3 trees took a bit extra time to prep because I needed to find out which technique would work best, but after I did 3 or 4 I did the rest of elements almost in an “automatic” mode.This saved a lot of time because I was able to focus on the painting process as I had all the assets I needed.
In the end I did not use all the elements I prepared but I will be able to use them for future projects.
DMP japanese ornaments

Once I had my elements ready I brought them to my Master DMP file and integrated them. At this point, I was focused only on lighting, composition and art direction. It almost felt like having a LEGO or scaled model kit and building it, tons of fun!




matte painting out of Photoshop
Normally, I finish my matte paintings in Photoshop, but since this one was an animated shot with a moving camera, I wanted to have a lot of flexibility later on. For that reason, I worked several sections in Comp. Atmospheric elements were added in Comp rather than in Photoshop as I had way more control in Nuke’s 3D space and more flexibility to control the placement and intensity of the fog and atmospherics. And of course, those atmospheric elements were animated as well. I had some layers of haze in my psd file but only for reference.
Small details like branches and vines were added in Comp as well, I prepared the assets in a flat way and then  UV mapped them in 3D Cards so I could place them were I felt they worked best.
For the very FG branches I had to build some GEO in Maya and Camera Project the textures, but then In comp I was able to change the placement and position of this elements using the super useful and amazing Axis node in Nuke!

final comp and grade
Nuke has incredible tools for environment work, but soon my script became to heavy and slow, so I rendered different ENV layers to work in a full 2D manner.
Once I had this ENV layers rendered out of Nuke I finished the shot in After Effects. I chose this program because I really like how it handles 2D layers and has very nice optical tools like lens distortion, grain etc. Also its color grading tools are identical to Photoshop’s which I am more familiar to.


I really enjoyed working on this and even though I could have spent extra time fixing issues and making enhancements I am happy with the final result.

Thanks for visiting!

2/25/2015

Matte Painting - The Explorers


Here is my latest personal project. I had some time off from work and that gave me the chance to finish some of the stuff from my personal shelf.
Nothing crazy in technical aspects, just a straight 2D matte painting using Photoshop and lots of elements from my personal photo library. This time, I added a little touch of sci-fi/fantasy topic and tried to create a bit of "other-world" feeling.


In previous personal projects I tried to stick with a photorealistic approach, but in this case, I wasn't too concern about being way too dramatic and putting the realism of the piece in "danger". I feel it is often more fun to exaggerate nature to add emphasis and make the piece more interesting, rather than just focusing on make it look real.



I hope you liked the project. I will try to do an actual projection and add a camera move to create a shot for the next project.

Thanks for visiting!

2/01/2015

Studies

Some digital painting studies focusing on light color and texture.





12/31/2014

Matte Painting: Oceanview


I was able to finish this personal Matte Painting before 2014 came to its end!
I started this one a while ago but I have been a bit busy at work and didn't have time to finish my personal stuff.
This time I tried to do something less stylized and nothing super fancy. The main goal was to create a photorealistic environment using lots of different images but making it look like it was shot as a single photograph.
Also this was a great chance to study some composition and lighting techniques.
I used only Photoshop as the main tool.



Got more projects piled up, hopefully I can finish some during the next year!

Thanks for visiting!

12/24/2014

A little break

Now that I took some time off from work I had the chance of practicing a bit. 
The first image  is just another color study from a real life picture I took.
The image below, is just a try-out of a technique Feng Zhu shows in one of his videos, where he mixes bunch of pictures almost randomly and creates those "mistakes" that already look like something cool. From there he paints and creates a beautiful piece.
In my case I never reached anything that looked like finished, but only the process of doing that was a lot of fun!





5/08/2014

Matte Painting - Rocky Path



Another personal Matte Painting I did on my free time.
For this one I decided to keep things even more simple and used only photo elements and a little bit of hand painting techniques. The main purpose of this project was to practice a Day for Night conversion and apply a mood based on night scenes of films like "The Hobbit" with very saturated blue light a the dominant environment light and little warm accents caused by the fire in the ground. 
I didn't have any intention of adding statues, but browsing my visual library, I found a cool statue with a nice rim light that I felt it would integrate really well. It did, and I kinda liked it so I started adding more and more!!

Below you can find the original plate I shot and some references I grabbed before starting the painting.



Original Plate
References

And here is the Breakdown:


Matte Painting Rocky Path from Pedro Colmenares on Vimeo.



I have more MP project started so as soon as I finish them I will post them.

Thanks for watching!