Essentially, the last half of our matte painting course was left to us to research, learn, and refine as many methods of digital matte painting as we liked, so that we could have time to ask professors and peers for help and suggestions in class. Personally, I wanted to learn more environment generation through softwares such as Terragen, Worldbuilder, and Vue.
This particular matte painting was done in Vue! This program seemed the most like what I'm used to working in via 3D programs, and had a lot of interesting functions to play with. It felt like playing Zoo Tycoon as a kid, placing random plants everywhere and making giant holes for no reason! Too fun, it was hardly a project at all!
But, regardless- this was my process.
I had a bit of a learning curve with Vue, especially withing the rendering system. It's not a renderer I'm familiar with, and it applies several odd exposure filters. I'm still not entirely happy with the overall exposure of this, but I did edit it post-render.
My first attempts, with a different concept entirely (alien spaceship crash on a farm), turned out dark and one-dimensional. Over half this image is unreadable and the sky is overexposed, which is no good. Wasted pixels!!
I will be continuing this project in Vue, so expect a second post on this. I intend to develop a Vue to Nuke workflow for myself.
So, feeling frustrated and unsatisfied with this result, I did some digging, watched some tutorials, and made a new concept that did not rely on obj imports. Here is some of my scene setup.
So, essentially, the floating islands are two small terrains flipped and stacked on top of one another. I used the terrain editor to get the shape I wanted roughly, and then moved each around in the world. On top of each, I spawned pre-collected ecosystems of trees, and placed native procedural textures on the rest of the surfaces. Here is the result before my post-processing.
However, I did render this image out as an HDR to keep the detail under the overblown lighting. Bit by bit I adjusted the levels in Photoshop, cleaned up a few missed floating trees, and overall darkened the image. Here's a comparison of the two images.
Overall, through a few weeks of frustrating experimentation, I think I definitely have enough of a handle on Vue to use it professionally should I be asked to. Despite its highs and lows, this particular matte painting was a ton of fun to do, and I look forward to using Vue again on other projects! If I could just get that renderer to produce images that don't need editing............