Matte Painting Advice and Response From MPC

June 2016
Digital matte painting is one of the areas that I’m interested in trying over placement year. Alec introduced me to his friend Jack Stevens who works as a digital matte painter.

Jack’s reels:
Jack was kind enough to give advice and shared his method with me:

“the best way to start a matte painting would be to do some thumbnail sketches and find a base photograph that you can use as the canvas. from there you would do your base preparation such as removing people/cars. you should go through libraries of images to slowly build up your final image. or you could build the whole thing in 3d. A good website to use for a reference library would be this: (”


Seeing his steps in a breakdown is inspirational.

He also suggested keeping an eye out for the internships from MPC, DNeg and Framestore as this is how he got into his job.
Seeing as I didn’t get accepted into the MPC First Step internship for lighting, I figure that I need to look more closely at the job requirements and build my skills from these. Hopefully, I will be prepared enough with a more targeted showreel to be successful before my placement year ends, and if not, I can always try again for their graduate traineeships once that time comes. If all fails, at least I will have learned and developed my skills for work elsewhere!:)
This is Framestore’s requirements for the DMP role:

“A strong understanding for real world materials, lighting and composition is essential. DMP artists will work closely with CG and Composting departments and therefore must have a basic knowledge of the practises of each of these disciplines.”
• Able to create photo-realistic digital matte paintings in Photoshop
• Assist with and develop the look of a shot/sequence in liaison with the show Lead and Supervision team
• Communicate regularly with Production and Leads regarding schedules and deadlines while maintaining the highest standards
• Work closely with the Lead Digital Matte Painter and VFX Supervisor to ensure that DMP meets any concept design or client requirements
• Work with Environment and Compositing teams to ensure shots are delivered to the very highest standard
• Seek out photographic reference material, where needed
• Share techniques, reference materials and ideas with the team
• Continue to become familiar with new tools, software, data and other related technology

Essential Skills:
• Previous experience in a similar role
• A thorough working knowledge of Photoshop
• Previous experience working in a Linux environment
• A good working experience of 2.5D Nuke Camera Projection techniques
• An ability to create concept artwork / mock ups.
• Strong knowledge of photography, with a good sense of artistic composition.
• Creative problem solving skills
• Works well in a team

I need to work on my ability to paint photo-realistically. I’ve never worked with Linux before (unless that one math module counts) but it can’t be too difficult, right? My composition skills could always do with improving also.

Christian Guthrie, who informed me of not being successful with my MPC First Steps application, was able to tell me which departments hired interns. He advised me:

“…the 10 departments that hired interns this year were
Technical Animation
This is not to say that these are the biggest hiring teams in the company, this is simply the way it has worked out this year. I would continue to focus on your passion and hopefully things will be different next year.”

This seems to be some indication that I should not choose a department because they’re hiring. Focus on the skills that I enjoy and I’ll find employment.

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