Here is my take on it. It’s pretty close in terms of architecture and lighting, but I had to come up with some of my own details. And because the image from the movie was practically monochromatic, I decided to add a bit of color variation for visual interest, and so it wouldn’t be as much of a direct copy. Anyway, it was a fun little project. I’m freelancing and looking for new projects again, so I may have time for some more personal projects that have been on the back burner for a while.
I also inadvertently came across an article I had written a couple of years ago about the basics of matte painting for the PSD Tuts+ website. It was just a short one explaining a few basic concepts and how Photoshop was used in the process. I’ll post a link to it in case anyone is interested.
The time has come for me to recertify in Photoshop once again. I had thought the deadline was earlier this month, but it is actually on the last day of October, so I will be studying up on the new features in CC and taking the exam soon.
Here is a personal piece I did as a matte painting challenge contest for the CG Channel website. The plate was provided and instructions were given to create a Rivendell-like setting as a matte painting. I shot my own source material for the buildings and used them along with a new sky to create this painting. Video footage was also provided, so I then took my matte painting into AfterEffects, motion tracked the footage, then matched my painting to it. I also added some birds (had to key out the sky) after stabilizing the original clip. There was a good deal of masking and color correcting, then mist was added at the bottom. As I was working on it, I did send it around to get advice from other matte painters and I think that really helped. It may not be perfect, but I was pleased with the result, for a quick comp of the painting. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t win or place in the contest, but it was a great experience nonetheless.
As far as hardware, I’m on the same laptop. It’s old, but it’s still getting me there. But I did update the RAM. Although my Mackbook Pro officially only recognizes up to 4 Gb, I now have 6 and it seems to be all utilized and working fine. The OS has been updated, not the the very latest, but close enough, although I hate having to do that all the time.
A bigger change has been in my work. I’m still doing digital illustration, but I have been doing more film effects work. For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing rotoscoping and plate reconstruction at a local effects studio for two upcoming films, White House Down and Fast and Furious 6 (I hadn’t even realized there were that many). I’m pursuing more work like this in an effort to get more into matte painting, so we’ll see how that goes. The effects industry is in sad shape now, if you have been following the news on that topic. I’ve been looking at some opportunities that would take me away from home for a while, so I’ll keep you posted.
In this case, the issue of resolution only pertains to raster images that are to be printed, nothing else. It is common to think of resolution in terms of DPI, or dots per inch, but as we will see, this is incorrect. Photoshop has a command just to take care of this issue, Image Size. All images that are prepared for print should pass through this dialog box. It is divided into two sections: Pixel Dimensions and Document Size. A quick look at its options shows that resolution is connected to the printed (or document) size and is actually measured in PPI, or pixels per inch. Inches (or centimeters in most of the world) are a real world measurement and only apply to printing on paper. Monitors, mobile devices, and other screens measure increments in pixels, not inches. We often think of high resolution as 300 PPI and low resolution as 72 PPI. This is true, but remember that you only need to worry about it when printing. Since your monitor measures images in pixels and your printer measures in inches, you need to translate pixels to inches when printing. That’s where Resample Image comes in. Resample means to add or remove pixels. No matter what resolution an image has when you open it in Photoshop, you can change it here in Image Size. Uncheck Resample Image to lock the Pixel Dimensions. Only the print size changes; the number of pixels stays the same. Therefore, resolution is relative. Using Photoshop, you can adjust it to what you need. Just make sure you have a large number of pixels to start with.
It is a common misconception that you need to work in 72 PPI on images for web. The truth is that browsers, monitors, and other screen devices don’t use resolution because they don’t see inches. You can work in whatever resolution you want; just keep the pixel size in mind. It is actually a good idea to work larger than your final image because you have more detail to work with. You can even work in high resolution or print size. To make the final web image, the best way is to use Save for Web. With this dialog box, you can choose the format you need, adjust compression (if applicable), and resize the image. Notice that here there is no resolution, only pixel dimensions. No matter what resolution your image has, if you make a JPG, PNG, or GIF with Save for Web, then open that image up, its resolution will default to 72 PPI.