Matte painting
According to Wikipedia Matte paintings are used to create "virtual sets" and "digital backlots" to enhance an already existing set. Sounds a little bit criptical, isn’t it ? Well, let’s try to see what’s behind this.

From the very beginning of painting, and I mean the moment when phreistoric man took some coloured dirt and draw something on the cave wall, he had basically two options:
- to draw something he saw somewhere in sorrounding world
- or to draw something he had in his imagination
Imagination is like a puzzle. The real thing is also a puzzle but with real established rules. Take the pieces, brake the rules, or make some of your own, and voila' , you’ve build another world, of course, just in your imagination. Temptation is so big, that some tried to rearrange even the real world ! Remember the famous answer for Napoleon’s question: What time is it ? – Whatever time you like, your Majesty – was the answer.
What does this has to do with matte painting ? Well, matte painting is an art form of rebuilding the real world. Take an existing set (Wikipedia dixit), to be more clear a banal house , and a landscape, say a lake. Both are common items in their environments, but just ‘extract’ the house from the plaza where it belongs, put in in the middle of the lake, give it some ‘marine’ look - you have your first matte painting!. Maybe the concept is not quit new or specific, after all, surrealism, fantasy art, dark art, all deals with fantasies of imagination, but the matte technique is unique just by building surreal not from the scratch, but from pieces from ‘broken’ real.

The first traditional matte paintings were made using optical effects, by drawing on some glass sheet, and overlapping over the initial composition. There was a lot of work to do, to realistic integrate the glass drawing over original footage. Today, matte painting is done in digital environment, with software like Photoshop, 3D Max, or Maya, using a graphic tablet as a drawing device.

But the way to do the work remains the same: take some ‘raw material’, pictures, photos, scanned images, take a good look at them until you have the feeling that they blend in a ‘that’ uniqe way you’ve just pictured in your mind, and start working. And do not be afraid to adapt your vision, while experimenting with reality.

Just gives you a little feeling of being the God of matte painting !

April, 17, 2007


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