Interview with Matte Painter and Concept Artist Mai Anh Tran

Interview with Matte Painter and Concept Artist Mai Anh Tran

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. I personally prefer painting without 3D. Having a 3D base can be useful as a base, it gives a sense of scale and perspective. However I prefer working on a shot with a lot of 2D matte painting ! What is less interesting according to me is painting over 3D renders to texture, patch or to clean a plate...

Which industry professionals do you admire most? Why?

I admire a lot of amazing matte painters and concept artists such as Dusso, Raphael Lacoste, Craig Mullins. All the matte painters who used to paint on glasses as well. I would love to have oil painting skills to paint like Vladimir Volegov. Furthermore, my childhood dreams have always been driven by directors such as Steven Spielberg, Tsui Hark or Yimou Zhang.


Lastly, if you weren't a matte painter, what would you be doing now?

That’s a tough question ! Before being introduced to matte painting I did not even know what that was. At the time I wanted to be a compositing artist. So I guess, if I was not a matte painter today, I would be a compositor, maybe ?

More about Mai Anh Tran

You can find more of her artworks on her Behance profile or website.

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