An Interview with Matte painting artist Somnath Patra

Somnath Patra is an Matte Painting Artist who is having extensive experience with organic & industrial modeling using Low/Hi Polygons & UV unwrapping and mapping. His vast Software and Concept knowledge has helped him to achieve a place as an artist for many successful Indian and Hollywood project. He is here with us to share about his career and Matte Painting Art.


Hi, Tell us something about you? How you started your career as an artist in CG Industry?

I am Somnath Patra, Born and brought up in Howrah/Kolkata its very small town (West Bengal). I completed my art at Kolkata Academy of Fine Arts, Having 13 years of experience in Animation Industry in field of 2D, 3D and Gaming. I specialized in Traditional Painting, Digital Art 2D Background, Matte Painting 2d and 3d from Concept design, Modeling, Sculpting, Texturing, Photorealistic rendering and 2d/3d camera projection in NUKE. I mainly use Photoshop for concept art, Maya/3ds Max for Modeling, Photoshop and vue for texturing, Mental ray/ V-ray for rendering, Zbrush for sculpting and composting for nuke.

 Matte painting By Somnath

Matte Painting

Game Art Work by Somnath

Game Level Painting

You are having around 13 years of experience as a matte painter and 2d, 3d from Concept design, Modeling, Sculpting, Texturing, Photorealistic rendering and 2d/3d camera projection artist in Indian animation industry, Share your working experience with us.

I started my Animation career from Pentamedia Graphics Ltd as Layout and 2d Background Artist. Later on I joined DQ Entertainment Limited as 2d layout artist to background supervisor and I worked in gaming industry as a Lead Artist, I worked on project for Sony, EA games, THQ games, Disney, DreamWorks, universal picture etc. I worked from graphics design to 3d like game (2d and 3d mobile), 2d layout to background, 3d animation movie, live action movie matte paint for Anaganaga O Dheerudu (worked for mattepaint,storyboard,concept art etc), Shakti (worked full pre-production work ), Rajanna (worked for mattepaint and storyboard and concept art). Now I, m working at Bangalore INDIA as a Matte Paint Artist. I really enjoy my carrier. 

 Anaganaga O Dheerudu- worked for mattepaint,storyboard,concept art etc

Can you tell us about matte painting? Where it’s used?

A matte painting is a painted representation of a landscape, set, or distant location that allows filmmakers to create the illusion of an environment that would otherwise be too expensive or impossible to build or visit. Historically, matte painters and film technicians have used various techniques to combine a matte-painted image with live-action footage.

Matte Painting is a huge creative field that can add wonder and excitement to static film shots. Panoramic vistas, impossible futuristic cities, or fantastic alien worlds come to life? It’s all through the magic of matte painting.

Matte Painting

Matte Painting

What process you follow for making a matte painting (pipeline)?

When it comes to the process, Matte painting based on concept have its own challenges, some are more technical and some are more artistic. The idea is to invest as much as energy to make sure about the quality of the end product and meet all the standards Parameters.

The matte painter works closely with the art director to define the right composition of the concept art. The goal is not only to create a beautiful shot, but to contribute to the storytelling process. The colours, textures and lighting of the image should combine to purvey a distinct emotion.

Pipeline for creating Matte Painting is as followed

  1. Subject based on story
  2. Research (research of story from books, internet and live references)
  3. Preparing Concept Art (Like color, perspective, composition, Scale of object etc).
  4. 3D Model
  5. Texturing
  6. Lighting
  7. Take passes render
  8. Bring into Photoshop for final touch-up
  9. NUKE for final compositing
  10. Final Output 

Can you tell us difference between matte painting for films, gaming and Texturing?

Low and High Resolution files are needed for different platforms and on that basis only one decide about putting up details.

When we are working for film it really needs good detail and resolution because it's for big screen you can add as many as details you want but when you are working for game then the logic are different you cannot work with any big image file because it will not support that.

Different platforms are having different requirements. If you work for xbox360, ps3 or pic game then you can put details as you do for movie. If you are working for ps2, DS then you have to work with less detail otherwise it will not work. So we have to work as per there final requirements.

What is difference between 2D and 3D matte painting?

It’s simple like 2D matte paint have only X and Y axis, and 3D matte painting have X, Y and Z axis. That is main difference.
Apart from that there are three basic kinds of matte painting.

  1. 2D Matte painting that is composited with live action. This is the simplest kind because it just involves a 2D painting created in Photoshop.
  2. Camera Projection or 2.5D Matte Painting. This consists of projecting a 2D painting onto 3D geometry. That approximates the features in the painting. You are then able to do a slight camera move. If you reveal areas of the area that are stretching you then just apply a patch with an alpha channel. You can do quite large camera moves in this fashion and still retain the control and ease of working in 2D.
  3. 3D Matte painting where CG is being used anyways is to allow the camera to freely move in these environments. So with more 3D programs like Vue, and Terragen giving us freedom to create convincing digital sets are called 3D Matte Paintings. 

What kind of matte paintings you do? Do you follow any style for it?

I have a bit of a detailing obsession, so I guess matte painting work is what suits me best. I really like to zoom in and make everything look nice and clean. I do all kind of matte painting like super realistic for Vfx and stylize cartoon look like Disney, DreamWorks projects.

Matte Painting

Matte Painting

What tools you use for creating matte painting and how it’s convenient than traditional style?

I use Adobe Photoshop software for painting purpose and for other things like Modeling, Texturing, lighting and final compositing purpose i use Maya, 3ds Max, Vue and Nuke.

Which project you enjoyed the most as an artist?

I have worked on number of projects but i really enjoyed working with my matte painting project for Anaganaga O Dheerudu Movie, I got really good experience out of this movie. This is a fantacy based movie and 70% of movie is having VFX where matte painting was very much used for backgrounds. I liked working for sequence of Kazi monastery and Queen Irendri entrance sequence because both had lot of CG work. From these projects i learned lot of things like camera projection and scatter create in 3ds max for jungle. It’s really hard, I worked for setup of a jungle in 3ds Max. The plugin name Vray scatter and vray multi scatter were used and for projection i use Maya as well. Here i worked for animatic storyboard also which helped a lot in Animation.

Kazi monastery- Shot

Vfx Plate Matte Painting in a Film shotMatte Painting in a Film shot

Queen Irendri

Matte Painting in a Film shot
Matte Painting in a Film shot

Have you faced any challenges for completing projects?

Yes, Anaganaga O Dheerudu movie released in 2011 was very challenging project. It was a hyper photo-realistic and full on technical project, so working with technical stuff with deadline was really challenging for me but i learned a lot from this project. 

What are you hobbies? What else you do apart from paintings?

Whenever I get free time I play with my daughter Anusha, My wife always inspire me and encourages me to do my work. Its pleasure to be with family and spend time with them. My main Hobbies are photography and playing chess.

What are your achievements till now as an artist?

I enjoy my career and I am very much passionate about art, appreciation of my work motivates me a lot and helps me to move ahead with quality work.
I received Award from Academy of fine arts,(Kolkata) 1997 for best water color painting

  • Received Awards for best Associate of the year 2004 (Background and Layout)
  • From DQ Entertainment Ltd (Hyderabad, A.P).
  • Matte painting 2nd winner January 2009 (cgtantra.com).
  • Matte painting 3rd winner Feb 2009 (cgtantra.com).
  • Matte painting 3rd winner for ‘Gate to Hell ‘(3dtotal.com)
  • Nominate for the Matte painting “CGT EXPO “(Mumbai and Delhi) 2009.

Thank you somnath for sharing this information with us.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.