I'm pleased to announce that my new book, "The Digital Matte Painting Handbook," is now shipping! It is the field's first how-to guide written for all levels of readers, from the novice to the aspiring professional. If you are willing to invest the time, you can progressively learn the basic skills and software programs necessary to complete a matte painting. The book concludes with the reader compositing a 3-D matte painting in After Effects – no small feat for the previously uninitiated.
I decided to write a “how-to” guide to matte painting because I needed a good textbook for my classes at School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute. After researching the existing publications, I was surprised to find no textbook appropriate for my students’ level of proficiency. Since I had a clear vision of what I wanted, I contacted my publisher Sybex Books, and they agreed it was a worthwhile project that addressed an unmet need in the computer field.
I got my first copy of The Digital Matte Painting Handbook last week, and I am extremely pleased with the production quality, color reproductions and design.
The feedback from contributors has been gratifying. Master matte artist Eric Chauvin was kind enough to share this comment on the book:
"This is exactly the kind of book I wish was around when I started 20 years ago. Of course, it was still traditional painting back then but until this book, there hasn't been a "how to" for this particular field. I've always thought that if I were to ever write a book, the only thing I would be qualified to write about would be digital matte painting, but what you've put together for your book is SO much better than I would have ever done, that I think I can now finally give up on THIS particular book idea : ) "
--Eric Chauvin (Owner of Blackpool Studios, matte artist on all three Star Wars Special Edition releases, Starship Troopers, Vertical Limit, The American President, Elf, Star Trek series, Babylon 5, Alias and Lost)
This book assumes no upfront knowledge of Photoshop, After Effects or Maya. Instead of “lecturing,” I guide the reader through a series of hands-on exercises that combine learning with doing, and demonstrate the basic skills required to use each program. Each chapter concludes with an assignment to practice the techniques, using reference material furnished on the accompanying DVD.
In my years of teaching, I watched students struggle to complete a camera projection in Maya. Without a textbook to refer to, they had to absorb the many complex steps from my classroom presentation. This book lets the reader review the material and work at his/her own pace. In the later chapters, where advanced techniques are introduced, I provide concise checklists, tips and shortcuts, to make sure no reader is left behind. For sections of the most demanding projects, I have included recorded demos of myself on the DVD.
Here is a screen shot from Chapter 10, on camera projection:
Compositing in After Effects is covered in depth, including setting up a futuristic city over a moving plate. This is the painting used in Chapter 14, for the "City of the Future" project:
The reader composites the futuristic city onto the moving plate over tracked points from the matchmoving program, Syntheyes:
The final project in the book covers compositing in After Effects true 3D space, and projecting an image for the ground plan. This is the painting from Chapter 15 showing a vision of Hades:
This is a screen shot showing 4 views in After Effects during the set up process for the composite:
The retail price is $50, but the best deal I have found so far is at Amazon for 40% off. I owe a special debt of gratitude to mattepainting.org, for all of the inspiration, and support over the years. If any member of mattepainting.org would like an autographed copy, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Just let me know you are from mattepainting.org, and I'll be happy to mail you a signed copy at my cost of $40. The web site for the book, www.digitalmattepaintinghandbook.com
, is a work in progress, but and I plan to add book updates and additional material in the coming weeks.
If any of you have comments of questions about the book, please put them in this thread, and I will be happy to provide whatever additional information I can.