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Gnomon Workshop Releases Matte Painting DVDs

The Gnomon Workshop welcomes Chris Stoski and Darin Hilton to its training library with the release of four DVDs on digital matte painting. Used to create backgrounds, sets, extensions or environments that are too costly to build physically or digitally, matte painting is a cornerstone of the visual effects industry. With the transition from hand painted mattes on glass to the digital age using software, such as Photoshop, Maya and Max, the range of techniques available to matte painters has broadened dramatically. These DVDs reveal the production methods of two exceptional and experienced artists.

"Chris Stoski is one of the leading matte painters in the industry, having authored many rich digital environments in recent films while at ILM and Matte World Digital," states Eric Hanson, producer for The Gnomon Workshop. "He has also been very supportive in contributing to the CG online community, and these DVDs will become a standard for learning the full range of techniques used on high-end matte work, from 2D painting to 3D set extension.

"Darin Hilton reveals and clarifies the often confusing technique of 3D camera projections in Maya," continues Hanson, "the core technique used in today's feature film 3D matte paintings. Those seeking to understand this technique will find Darin's workflow indispensable in guiding the proper set-up of their own projects."

Stoski is one of the leading matte painters and concept artists in the visual effects industry. His clients and employers include Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm, Matte World Digital, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, DreamWorks, Touchstone Pictures and The Cartoon Network, to name a few. Recently he authored a book titled D'ARTISTE: MATTE PAINTING in conjunction with Dylan Cole and Alp Altiner, and published by Ballistic Publishing. His film credits include STAR WARS EPISODE III, THE RING, THE LAST SAMURAI and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. He works for ILM as a lead digital matte artist.

Hilton works in film and television as a matte painter and concept artist. After graduating from Auckland University of Technology with a diploma in Illustration and Graphic Design, he emigrated from New Zealand to the U.S. to work as a traditional animator and storyboard artist. Before long he transitioned from analog pencil to the digital world, working initially as an art director at a videogame company then moving into film and television effects. His credits include feature films, such as THE NATIVITY STORY, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND, ARE WE THERE YET?, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, TITAN AE, T-REX: BACK TO THE CRETACEOUS and TOM AND JERRY, as well as numerous commercials and television shows. He is working in Los Angeles on various film and commercial projects as a digital matte painter


In this DVD, Stoski demonstrates his techniques for creating a complex matte painting. He illustrates how a matte artist utilizes 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, photographic reference materials and digital painting to complete a beautiful and efficient matte painting. Throughout the lecture he describes his techniques and relates his experiences designing shots for feature films and executing them as final matte paintings. From painting and image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop to 3D particle-system waterfalls and animated vegetation blowing in the wind, this DVD offers a complete spectrum of knowledge for the beginner to intermediate matte painter.


In this second DVD in a series, Stoski illustrates the creation of several 3D matte paintings. In the visual effects industry, directors are always asking for moving cameras in matte paintings and he shows how this is achieved. He creates two different environments and discusses how a matte painter creates camera movement in these key scenarios. In addition to Adobe Photoshop, he uses Autodesk 3ds Max, but the techniques can be implemented with other popular 3D software as well. From forward-moving dolly shots to lateral helicopter aerials, he covers the essentials of 3D and 2.5D matte painting for matte artists of all skill levels.


On this third DVD in a series, Stoski shows how digital set extensions are achieved. The lecture uses two examples to demonstrate matching simple and complex lighting in the plate photography, dealing with difficult lighting changes, matching the camera angle of the plate with 3D software and adding camera movement in a compositing environment. The lecture results in the creation of two beautiful moving shots. In addition to Adobe Photoshop, he uses Autodesk 3ds Max and Apple Shake to create these examples, but the techniques can be implemented with other popular 3D and compositing software as well. This DVD is designed for all skill levels.


In this DVD, Hilton takes you through the production and completion of a camera projected 3D Matte painting using Autodesk Maya and Adobe Photoshop. He covers the essential techniques and solutions for 3D matte painting as he progresses from rough concept to modeling, rendering and creating the painting in Photoshop. After bringing the finished matte painted layers back into Maya, he describes how to apply them in the scene. He also shows methods for solving common texture distortions with additional projections. Finally, he demonstrates simple techniques for bringing life to your scenes.

Since 2000, The Gnomon Workshop ( has provided artists and students with the educational resources they need to succeed as artists in the entertainment industries. Whether they're interested in design, modeling, effects, animation, storytelling or matte painting, these DVDs provide a valuable educational resource for students around the world. The Gnomon Workshop is the sister company of The Gnomon School of Visual Effects, which provides professional caliber visual effects instruction to students and professionals in Los Angeles.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.