Book Review: d'artiste: Matte Painting 3

October 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Tags: 2D, 3D, Ballistic Publishing, Digital Art, Matte Painting

"...a clarion call to all artists to pursue their art with the same commitment and determination to aim for excellence every time they switch on a monitor or put pen to paper."
-Ballistic/CG Society

To anyone who reads my reviews on, it will come as no surprise that I am crazy about books from Ballistic Publishing. This Australia-based company publishes the best designed and most inspiring digital art books in the world. Reviewing one of their books is the equivalent of going down the digital rabbit hole or stepping into another dimension full of the most amazing colors and imagery.

I've been fortunate to receive an excellent new book from Ballistic: d'artiste Matte Painting 3. This book is part of the large stable of digital art books produced by Ballistic every year. The d'artiste Matte Painting 3 book covers the subtle and increasingly important art of digital matte painting by featuring the art of three major artists in the field, along with extensive interviews and tutorials by the artists.

Each of these beautiful books are well produced and firmly bound. Exceptional attention has been paid to the reproduction of color and placement of the many, many art photos you'll find in each volume. Clearly, Ballistic is one of the finest publishers of digital art books in the world. d'artiste: Matte Painting 3 represents Ballistic at their finest.




d'artiste: Matte Painting 3
Authors: David Luong, Damien Macé, and Milan Schere
ISBN: Limited Edition: 978-1-921002-78-6 / Slip cased: 978-1-921828-96-6
Color Illustrations Throughout
Price: Slip cased US $75.00 / Limited Edition US $170
8 ¾ x 11 ¾ / 239 pp

d'artiste: Matte Painting 3 is the long-awaited follow up to the highly acclaimed d'artiste: Matte Painting 2. The format for books in this series is excellent: choose 3 masters of matte painting, bring them in to present a series of specific tutorials, talk to them about their lives and works and then get each artist to share the work of other matte painting artists they admire. It's a simple concept, but the challenge Ballistic is faced
with in producing a book like this is balancing the words and the art and then choosing the most interesting ways to display the works on the page.

Fortunately, Ballistic editors are masters themselves and d'artiste: Matte Paintings 3 is simply wonderful. Not only is the art work literally breathtaking (and beautifully arranged on the page), but by beginning each artist's section with their ideas on the art of matte painting, you immediately have a framework for understanding what each individual artist is trying to achieve in their work. This is important because the artists each have a unique style.




The three artists chosen for this edition of d'artiste are:  David Luong, an extremely talented artist who is the Senior Cinematic Artist at Blizzard Entertainment;  Damien Macé, French-born artist who was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Game of Thrones, and Milan Schere, a German artist who is the Senior Matte Painter at Mr. X in Toronto, Canada.


Hanna – Hamburg Container Park by Milan Schere


Each artist presents a tutorial that covers the creation of a specific digital painting. They discuss the tools they used and move step-by-step through the creation process to the finished image. The process is carefully documented with large, clear digital images. I enjoyed all of the tutorials, but Milan Schere's (he created 6 complete tutorials!) were especially good. His carefully detailed instructions indicate he would make an excellent master teacher or tutor.


Moonlight of a Chinese Night by David Luong


Of course, selecting art from this wonderful book is an entirely subjective process. That said, I found David Luong's matte painting Moonlight of a Chinese Night to be extraordinary in its mood and detail. Damien Mace's tutorial Aftermath and the resulting final rendering is simply beautiful and exudes a powerful mood. He also chose my favorite digital art work in the book: Thailand Trading by Jason Horley, Great Britain. Literally, a stunning work of art with such color and imagery that it's like a Vermeer painting. (see image below).


Thailand Trading by Jason Horley, UK


Milan Schere's work is remarkable, too. I particularly enjoyed his tutorial Hanna – Hamburg Container Park and its final render. The digital image is so clear and detailed you can almost smell the scene. Milan's choice of a matte painting by artist  Damien Thaller titled Home Sweet Home is much appreciated as the painting is so beautifully rendered you feel you could walk right into the scene.


Home Sweet Home by Damien Thaller


One last comment about d'artiste: Matte Painting 3: there's a fine and inspiring introduction by Michael Pangrazio, Senior Art Director at Weta Digital. This is followed by a conversation amongst the three featured artists and Mr. Pangrazio, which is almost worth the price of the book itself. In particular, the advice all of them give to matte artists is invaluable.

Be sure to check the beautiful Ballistic Publishing  website for more info and to browse through the entire book with their unique book viewer. There's also a nice perk to anyone who buys a copy of d'artiste: Matte Painting 3: you'll receive a link in the book to a video download page with tutorials by each of the featured artists.

You can purchase d'artiste: Matte Painting 3 directly from the Ballistic Publishing website, or from quality booksellers both real and online. The book is marvelous and deserves a place on any artist's shelf, but especially those artists who are either active digital matte painters or are thinking of getting into the field.




Expose 11 and Vesage

Before I close, I just wanted to mention two other books by Ballistic: the recently published Exposé 11, which is Ballistic's annual review of digital art from all over the world, and Vesage, which features digital works of art from highly accomplished members of VES (the Visual Effects Society). I was very impressed with both books and was delighted to see the art and life of Roger Dean in Exposé 11, who is Ballistic's choice for Grand Master.

You can browse through both books at the Ballistic website. They are both lovely books and deserve your attention.


My sincere thanks to Ballistic Publishing for sending me these books for review. Special thanks to Mike Hepburn, Ballistic's Marketing Manager for keeping me on my toes.

All supporting images are copyright to their respective artists, and used with permission from Ballistic Publishing.
All content and images cannot be copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission.

Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.




October 21, 2013

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