Interview with Matte Painter and Concept Artist Mai Anh Tran

Interview with Matte Painter and Concept Artist Mai Anh Tran

Interview with Matte Painter and Concept Artist Mai Anh Tran

Were you self taught or trained by someone? How does it feel?

I have never really had any matte painting course at school so I consider myself a self taught matte painter. At school, in 2013, my 3D teacher Thomas Dobrowolski taught me about projections in Maya. But then I have spent all my time working hard to learn and figure out the several techniques of matte painting. Trying to find tutorials, inspired by the masters’ pieces and practicing a lot. It was Yannick Tan who pretty much introduced me to matte painting and gave me lots of good advices to start as a matte painter. I feel really thankful to everyone who helped me out in my matte painting learning process, such as Dhamindra Jeevan, Arnaud Brisebois, Adam Lawrence. I have learnt a lot from them, but moreover, they are great friends of mine. I am very fortunate to have worked with Director Carlos Andre Stevens. He is an amazing person who was totally involved in teaching me everything he could when he had some spare time.
I have learnt a lot and am still learning, because there is always something new to learn !


Do you prefer working on motion graphics or visual effects? Why?

Motion graphics is a really interesting field, but I do prefer working on visual effects. Especially in the film industry. I like creating imaginary landscapes, making a nonexistent environment looks real. It is like bringing a new world to life. And sharing it out with people.


What does the workflow look like for a Matte Painting job? Are you enjoying it? Why or why not?

A film company is a sociable environment where you need to have a great team spirit. There are different kinds of workflows and the three main ones are:

1) 2D matte painting. Starting with concept art and using only reference images and painting techniques to create the matte painting which can be used for simple shots. And in order to get parallax, the layers can be separated on different cards.

2) 3D matte painting. We start with a 3D layout, and sometimes the 3D models can be textured, shaded and rendered out so we can play around with passes and paint over the 3D in Photoshop, adding details in order to make the 3D look more photo-real.

3) Then, there’s the 2,5D matte painting. It’s a 2D matte painting projected on 3D geometry.

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