An old personal DMP

This is an old project that I never got the chance to finish. Reason being is probably that I was aiming for something way beyond my skills at the time. 
I was inspired by the 1st Mass Effect videogame, in a stage where you visit a world called Virmire. The action takes place in this beach resort-like environment, with big mountains, tropical vegetation and futuristic facilities. 
My favorite feature was how well the futuristic buildings integrated in the tropical environment, and the lovely channels of water and natural corridors protected by natural exotic rock walls and creeks.

It is one of those level that makes you want to explore rather than continue playing the actual mission of the game.
I wanted to represent all this things that I found attractive in my project, but I realized it was way to ambitious for what I was capable of doing and I got frustrated and decided to leave it and come back till I felt I was ready. About 3 years later (currently while I post this) I had the chance to open the file again. Someone at work saw this file and told me "hey prepare those layers for comp and lets do a test projection" So I opened the file and realized there were many areas that looked pretty bad. I spent a day doing refinements and adjustments on the fly, matching colors better, adjusting black levels, remove this,, add that, more atmosphere... all very quickly. It felt good opening the file after a long time, have a fresh look at it and change things that didn't work for me.
However, I still didn't feel ready to finish the piece the way it was in my mind. Simply because it was a very ambitious project and something that was way over my head and also because I get burned and bored of my own crap very quickly. So I decided this would be one of those projects (like many others) that I would never finish. The result I am publishing here is not at all what I had in my mind, but it looks OK ish the way it is. Of course, even though I  decided to leave it this way, I could still go on and refine details and make it look more photo-realistic and "finished", but that is simply not me, not my style. Now I look at it and just think, "yeah its ok... let's move on" I just feel it is a healthier attitude when doing art in general.

Hope you enjoyed it!


It's been a while! I did a digital painting the other day during an unusual non-busy time at work. I missed paying around with 3D and was playing with volumetric lights. Did a couple test renders and decided to bring it into PS to paint and have fun.

Even though the result is nothing to go crazy about, I had a lot of fun doing this and no stress at all, since I wasn't working on a planned idea. Ideas were coming to mind as I was advancing in the project.
I really enjoy working on sporadic projects that come out of nothing and end up somewhere.
I'll try to do more!



It's been a while since the last post I made here!!!

I have been a bit busy working at a very cool place in Vancouver: The Sequence Group

Working with this guys has been one of the best professional experiences I had so far, cool people, talented artists, great studio, nice projects... tons of fun overall!

Below I am adding some videos from project I was involved. Sweet stuff!!

Company of Heroes 2: The British Forces Announcement Trailer from Sequence on Vimeo.

Halo The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series - Launch Trailer from Sequence on Vimeo.

Thanks for checking it out!



interior study

Here is a latest color study I did.  I used as reference a photo of a Japanese castle I took with my camera last time I went there. It was great to paint the window light bouncing to the interior walls and the reflections of the varnished wooden floor.


Matte Painting - Hidden Shrine

Matte Painting Hidden Shrine from Pedro Colmenares on Vimeo.

It’s been a while since the last time I did an animated matte painting shot!
Usually I just make a 2D matte painting or illustration and I stop at that point. I don’t really have a lot of time to deal with all the technical aspects involved in turning a 2D painting into a 2.5 live environment. Projection setups and long renders take a tremendous amount of time!
But I had a couple weeks off from work and not much to do so I just jumped in.

I got instant inspiration when I started playing 2013’s Tomb Raider. It didn’t take more than 45 minutes for me to fall in love with the visual style, the mood and environments.
My recent trip to Japan at the end of 2014 was another huge source of inspiration, plus, I had the chance to shoot a lot of elements with my camera so I had a pretty big library of cool material.

shot study and cameras
Before jumping to do the fun matte painting stuff I studied the type of camera move I wanted for the shot. I had in mind the idea of an establishing shot that could be used as the opening shot for a film or cinematic. I wanted to slowly reveal the the shrine and show the environment surrounding it. A simple move of the Camera Tilting Up and Travelling Forward slightly worked just fine for this purpose. This move would help to reveal the selling point and the slight forward motion would enhance the 3D space creating parallax between the different elements in the scene.
Once I was happy with the camera, I did a quick layout with very rough geometry to establish the space and to study the amount of parallax and level of detail that the projection geo would need to have.

Working on the cameras and layout is essential before jumping into any environment work!
Once I know how the camera move will be, I will know how much Overscan will I need to cover the environment that is visible through the camera for example.

matte painting in Photoshop
Time for fun!
I already had a decent base from the quick 3D geo, so I would only need to follow it and replace it with photo elements.
Before starting the painting though, I gathered as much references as I could and prepared them so that I could just drop them into my DMP file, move them around and integrate them in the environment. 

DMP vegetation elements
So for example, if I needed tree elements, I would search for 10-15 trees I liked, key/prep all of them and saved them in a mini-library I created for the project… The first 2 or 3 trees took a bit extra time to prep because I needed to find out which technique would work best, but after I did 3 or 4 I did the rest of elements almost in an “automatic” mode.This saved a lot of time because I was able to focus on the painting process as I had all the assets I needed.
In the end I did not use all the elements I prepared but I will be able to use them for future projects.
DMP japanese ornaments

Once I had my elements ready I brought them to my Master DMP file and integrated them. At this point, I was focused only on lighting, composition and art direction. It almost felt like having a LEGO or scaled model kit and building it, tons of fun!

matte painting out of Photoshop
Normally, I finish my matte paintings in Photoshop, but since this one was an animated shot with a moving camera, I wanted to have a lot of flexibility later on. For that reason, I worked several sections in Comp. Atmospheric elements were added in Comp rather than in Photoshop as I had way more control in Nuke’s 3D space and more flexibility to control the placement and intensity of the fog and atmospherics. And of course, those atmospheric elements were animated as well. I had some layers of haze in my psd file but only for reference.
Small details like branches and vines were added in Comp as well, I prepared the assets in a flat way and then  UV mapped them in 3D Cards so I could place them were I felt they worked best.
For the very FG branches I had to build some GEO in Maya and Camera Project the textures, but then In comp I was able to change the placement and position of this elements using the super useful and amazing Axis node in Nuke!

final comp and grade
Nuke has incredible tools for environment work, but soon my script became to heavy and slow, so I rendered different ENV layers to work in a full 2D manner.
Once I had this ENV layers rendered out of Nuke I finished the shot in After Effects. I chose this program because I really like how it handles 2D layers and has very nice optical tools like lens distortion, grain etc. Also its color grading tools are identical to Photoshop’s which I am more familiar to.

I really enjoyed working on this and even though I could have spent extra time fixing issues and making enhancements I am happy with the final result.

Thanks for visiting!


Matte Painting - The Explorers

Here is my latest personal project. I had some time off from work and that gave me the chance to finish some of the stuff from my personal shelf.
Nothing crazy in technical aspects, just a straight 2D matte painting using Photoshop and lots of elements from my personal photo library. This time, I added a little touch of sci-fi/fantasy topic and tried to create a bit of "other-world" feeling.

In previous personal projects I tried to stick with a photorealistic approach, but in this case, I wasn't too concern about being way too dramatic and putting the realism of the piece in "danger". I feel it is often more fun to exaggerate nature to add emphasis and make the piece more interesting, rather than just focusing on make it look real.

I hope you liked the project. I will try to do an actual projection and add a camera move to create a shot for the next project.

Thanks for visiting!