I recently took a class in digital matte painting, taught by animator and VFX artist Jesse Silver (TRON, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, BATMAN & ROBIN). I've been using Photoshop extensively for years, but seeing how it could be applied in this way was really a lot of fun. It was just an introductory class for this kind of 2D work, but it gave me some really good challenges (read: hours and hours of homework!) and I enjoyed it enormously. I've only begun to learn this stuff, and hope to understand more of it in the future.

Below are two class execises I did where I used a variety of photographic sources to create a final product. The first was an image of the Great Wall of China, which required finding photos online and assembling them to match a basic layout storyboard sketch.


The source elements:

Cliff and mountain elements.
Rock & foreground elements.
Wall elements.
Sky element.



The second exercise was "merging" different photographs of a city street, then adding new buildings to it while maintaining a uniform color scheme and the proper vanishing points. While most people simply put the buildings in the background, I tried breaking the picture apart and inserting the new buildings between the old ones.

The source elements:

City street photos that needed to be merged.
These were the new buildings I added.

A little background addition that gave the class a big laugh.