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Advanced Matte Painting

An 8-week course that further enhances your matte painting skills and applies them to real-world scenarios at a studio

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Take your Matte painting skills to the next level

The focus of this class is to take the matte painting skills you have and apply them to the real-world scenarios you might encounter working at a studio. The goal is that by the end of the class will have completed several matte paintings that demonstrate a solid technical understanding of what modern matte painting entails. Students will have the opportunity to set up and paint a variety of shots—from 2D to more complex 3D shots—as well as learn the tricks to bring those paintings to life. Just as every studio has a different workflow, students will also gain a basic knowledge of working with different color pipelines, cameras and plates, and learn how to adapt while creating their shots. This class is geared toward intermediate to advanced Photoshop users with some Nuke compositing and 3D modeling skills in Maya, or industry professionals who want to enhance their toolsets. Students should feel comfortable with basic modeling in a 3D environment as well as basic Nuke compositing.


Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individual recordings
Duration:   8 weeks
Assignment:   Deadlines each week
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Photoshop, Nuke, Maya
Skills level:   Intermediate to Advanced
Prerequisites:   Intro to Digital Matte Painting (recommended); intermediate to advanced knowledge of Photoshop; basic modeling & Nuke experience

Advanced Matte Painting WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Technical setup, pitfalls and roadblocks: What resolution do I need to work at and why? | Reference: the key to good matte painting | Finding perspective in Photoshop | PSD organization and teamwork | The 2D matte shot from Photoshop to comp: setting up a static matte painting shot in Photoshop and Nuke
Color pipelines and working with various formats; maintaining color range in your paintings | Space, log space, and linear space color workflow; working with high dynamic range images | Night shots and clipping your blacks, highlights and clipping brights. Icc profiles, show luts, etc. | Using your high dynamic range matte painting to help light a 3D scene | The difference between clipping in Photoshop and clipping in compositing (Nuke) | Roll with the punches: plates changing, cameras changing, notes changing
Setting up the nodal shot: What is a nodal camera? How to tell if your camera is truly nodal/"nodal enough" | Setting up projections for simple camera moves: studying your footage for the best frames to project on; simplifying your projection setup and why | Pros and cons of multiple paintings/projections in a single shot; tips for camera coverage (how to tell if your projection covers the camera move); the importance of file and camera name organization | Over-sizing your projection/canvas for safe coverage; ignoring areas of your canvas not seen in the shot; focusing on areas of importance
What is a “2.5D” matte painting? How to keep your shot from looking “cardy” | Setting up a z-traveling or zoomed in shot | Concept for matte painting
The fully matte painted shot: letting geometry do all the heavy lifting | When to matte paint, when to look dev in 3D | Simplifying geometry for fewer projection complications; using geometry to find horizons, perspective, and scale | Different approaches to matte painting with 3D geometry; lining up your geometry edges
When will matte painting in stereo work? | Working on stereoscopic shots; getting camera coverage for both eyes: Which eye do you project from? | Geometry must reflect real-world scale and spatial relationships | Building geo for lots of foreground parallax | The static stereo shot: When can you simplify your geo in a stereo shot?
Setting up large traveling shots (both in X and in Z) | Array camera shots for pano shots | Advanced approaches to sequence level work; setting up paintings for multiple shots | The 360 shot
Tips for staying employed: personality matters; finding a job and staying employed | The artist vs the craftsman; listening to your notes vs. defending your creative choice | The importance of being efficient as a matte painter; let the small things go, but follow up on your shot | Play to your strengths | Self marketing; notes for portfolios, websites and demo reels; detailed breakdowns of your shots

Unleashing your creativity

Lectures by Heather Abels

Heather currently works as a set Extension Artists at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles having worked previously as Matte Department Supervisor at Rhythm & Hues on blockbuster films like Life of Pi. Life of Pi marked her third time contributing to Oscar winning visual effects films in a career that has taken her around the world from Weta Digital in New Zealand to her current home in Burbank. Her body of work ranges from epic studio franchises such as Avatar and X-Men to national advertising campaigns and animated features. Working on films like Life of Pi. Her credits include 300: Rise of an Empire, Winter's Tale, Machete Kills, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, R.I.P.D., Django Unchained, Big Miracle, Yogi Bear, Charlie St. Cloud, Avatar.


July 21st!

winter TERM Registration

May 14, 2019 - Jul 23, 2019




July 21st!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

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