Sunday, March 17, 2013

Environment Masters - Brandon Kachel

Alright so it seems I'm shooting new artists at you guys a lot more frequently than I had planned to, but I can't help it, there's too much inspiration out there! So here I am with yet another awesome environment artist to introduce.

Last night I went to see Oz the Great and Powerful, and couldn't stop gaping at the beautiful whimsical backdrops, so much so that I occasionally found myself missing some of the foreground action. I actually thought the environments, as gorgeous as they were, could have been better integrated with the 3D elements and characters, at least in a few spots. There were a couple times where I just wasn't 100% convinced that everything was co-existing in the same world, and that was too bad because all the elements separately looked quite awesome.

Anyway, that's just my 2-cent on that, but the point is, I was looking forward to spotting some of the matte painters' names at the end of the film, to see who created those paintings. I wasn't surprised to see Dylan Cole's name pop up, seeing as the film's aesthetic reminded me a lot of Alice in Wonderland, for which he did a lot of great concept and matte work. However he's not the one I'm featuring today. Rather I found another artist who also happens to have worked on Alice, as well as The Kite Runner, Iron Man, Yogi Bear, Wrath of the Titans and the recent oscar winner, Life of Pi. I thought it was fitting to introduce an artist who was directly involved in the whole Rhythm & Hues situation, which if you're at all interested in VFX you will have heard lots about in the last few weeks (which is why I won't get into it here).

Today's artist is Brandon Kachel, who's a graduate from the Minnesota Arts Institute where he studied visual effects. He's worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks as well as Rhythm & Hues, and his matte painting skills are credited on several feature films and advertising work. I thought Brandon was interesting because contrarily to a lot of the environment artists I've found, he really seems to focus primarily on matte painting, and doesn't dabble so much in concept art. At least that's the impression I get from his portfolio. Another reason I thought he was interesting is that a lot of his work is perhaps a bit less glamorous, and more practical than a lot of the artists I find out there. Though he's worked on some films that rely more heavily on VFX, the majority of the films on his credits list are not considered "VFX films". Hence a lot of his work doesn't necessarily come across as beautiful or impressive at first glimpse, but he does a fantastic job at blending his paintings with real-life footage, so that they don't stand out, which is just as equally impressive in my opinion.

One more thing I absolutely love about his website is he always shows the before and after pictures of the plates he's worked with. This allows you to see exactly what he did on each shot, and the restrictions he had to work with. I wish everyone out there did that in their portfolio! It really helps to visualize the process.

I picked a few images from Brandon's portfolio that I particularly liked. As always, you can find more of this artist's work on his website :

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Environment Masters - Andrée Wallin

I'm feeling inspired tonight so I thought I'd share with you the second master in my Environment Masters series : Andrée Wallin.

Andrée is a young freelance concept artist/matte painter from Sweden who's worked on some motion pictures as well as AAA games such as Halo.

He's got a ton of amazing work up on his website and deviantArt gallery, so you should definitely check him out. I had to stop myself from reposting his entire portfolio up on here as everything he does is absolutely gorgeous. So young and so talented, he's a huge inspiration! I particularly love his use of light and color. His images always feel very moody and rich, even in his more industrial concepts.

Environment design - Waterfalls Concept

This week we had to hand in our first assignment for our environment design class given by Benoit Pelchat, head of the matte painting department at Rodeo FX (yeah I know, I've got a pretty sick lineup of teachers this semester :D).

The assignment was to take a picture amongst a selection that was offered to us, pick a spot at ground level, and draw whatever you'd see from your chosen point of view. You can see below the picture I picked and the direction I was looking in.

I then sketched out a few thumbnails on Photoshop to figure out the exact angle I wanted. I ended up picking the middle one, and then developed it further.

A little bit of texturing and some fog later, this is the final result. I'm pretty happy with it, though it kinda feels like a halfpoint between a concept drawing and a matte painting. Since I'm pushing to further my skills as a matte painter, I took the occasion to practice using photographic textures and integrating them to my painting. I overdid it a bit though in this case, as it wasn't really asked of us for this particular assignment. I might go over it and make it more painterly before applying color to it, which is our next assignment. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Environment Masters - Phuoc Quan

Hey guys!

I'm taking a little break from my homework to bring you the first post of my new Environment Masters series. As some of you know I've recently taken a major interest in the field of Matte Painting and environment concept art. I've always had a soft spot for environment design, wether it was designing, building and lighting miniature sets for stop motion, or coming up with moody charcoal backdrops in my old traditional animation days.

Seeing as I've recently discovered Matte Painting as a potential career, I've been doing a lot of research on environment artists for the past few weeks, and have found a great many amazing and inspiring ones out there. They were so inspiring in fact, that I decided to share them with you. So every week (perhaps more often if I keep stumbling upon fantastic new stuff all the time), I'll be showcasing a new Matte Painter and/or Concept Artist. Some of them will surely be known to most of you, but hopefully you'll make some new discoveries as well.

So without further delay, here's the first Master in our series : Phuoc Quan.

Phuoc is a vietnamese concept artist living in Singapore. He does beautiful painterly environment concepts, but is also an amazing character designer. He graduated from the FZD School of Design in Singapore and has since been working in the gaming and film industries as an illustrator and concept artist.

You can check out more of Phuoc's work on his blog or his deviantArt account below :