FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (F.A.Q.) - GENERAL QUESTIONS
HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU?
Answer: There is different ways to contact me. You can go to the Facebook Starno page and click the button "I LIKE" and then, you will be able to send internal facebook email or ask a question directly in a post. Facebook is great because I can know a little bit about you and then, it makes the answers more accurate and related especially to your question. You can also choose to send an email to this address. Please re-type manually. (This procedure is to avoid spam problem.) You should be answered / replied within 3-5 days (especially for work related material). I don't recommend you to use internal emails from other website community such as DeviantArt, CGhub, flickr, etc because I rarely go to these websites and it might take forever to get an answer.
CAN YOU WORK ON MY PROJECT? WHAT ARE YOUR AVAILABILITIES?
Answer: I work at least 40 to 60 hours a week on a day shift for different visual effect companies. Sometimes I can do freelance work during week-ends and evenings but I'm very selective. I usually choose quick projects (between 20 to 40 hours) with no camera movements or complexe 3D scenes. I try to keep it simple and stay in Photoshop. Please consider that I'm focusing my career on high end photo-realistic digital matte-paintings, set extensions and concept arts. You can check my availibily in the ABOUT section. Also, please take note that I don't work for free and I can't be pay only by credits. I can understand how hard it is to try push an independant project to an other step but please, do understand that this is what I do in life. Like anyone else, I have to pay my food. I can't work on free projects even if they seem very interesting.
CAN I BUY ARTWORKS FROM THIS WEB SITE?
Answer: You can buy prints from my personal projects under this link: deviant art starno prints These prints are for personal use only. If you are a company, an organization or a group and want to buy some artworks for advertising. Please email me at this adress: I can do ackowledgement and copyrights contracts for specific projects. High-resolution printable files can be send by FTP server. Concerning images related to the global warming and environmental issues. I would like to do a contribution to any serious group, organism, company related to environment who want to use these images. I can send this image (a high-resolution for any sort of prints or web) for free, as long as it is use for environment purposes. All matte-paintings and concept images done for clients are not for sale. The property and copyrights belong to them.
WHAT IS A MATTE PAINTING (OR A MATTE ART) ?
Answer: Matte paintings (Matte arts) are used to create "virtual sets" and "digital backlots". They can be used to create entire new sets, or to extend portions of an existing set. Traditional matte painting is done optically, by painting on top of a piece of glass to be composited with the original footage. Nowadays, matte painting is done in computers with the use of a tablet as a drawing device. In a digital environment, matte paintings can also be done in a 3-D environment, allowing for 3-D camera movements. Good reference for matte painting book: Mark Cotta Vaz Craig Barron: The invisible art the legends of movie matte painting. San Francisco, Cal.: Chronicle Books, 2002; ISBN 0-8118-3136-1 (definition of matte painting is from the web site www.wikipedia.org - matte painting) Check the matte painting galleries to see more. Here is few exemples of matte paintings:
WHAT IS A CONCEPT ART ?
Answer: A concept art is a form of illustration where the main goal is to convey a visual representation of a design, idea, and/or mood for use in movies, video games, or comic books before it is put into the final product. This is a relatively new designation popularized by artists working in the automobile and video games industries. This term has been in use since the 1930's by the traditional animation industry who was describing drawn or painted images which illustrate the look, feel, design, colors, etc...of the animated movie to be made. Concept art is also referred to as "visual development" in traditional animation. The term was later adopted by the games industry. These illustrations became necessary for developed visual properties. Concept art is the preliminary visual statement made in entertainment production. Before characters, worlds, or items are created, images are made to show what these things should look like, often based on a writers description. Concept Art is the illustrated visualization of ideas. Usually, many artists or animators gain better ideas by studying still models through the means of photography. This is how particular objects, such as the elven blades in the The Lord of the Rings (which look like leaves), are created. Check the concept art gallery to see more. Here is few exemples of concept arts:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (F.A.Q.) - ABOUT TECHNIQUES
DO YOU HAVE ANY TUTORIALS? HOW CAN I LEARN FROM YOU?
Answer: I do sometimes tutorials or "making of" for magazines or web sites. Check under this link to find some of them: Recognition link You can also check the tutorial page where you can see a few "making of" from some artworks: tutorial page
DO YOU PRACTICE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF HOUR A DAY?
Answer: I do always have a personal project on the side but I don't work on a daily base on these projects. I consider that working 8 to 12 hours a day at work is a good practice by itself (if I may say this) and quite enough. I prefer to spend the rest of the evening by doing something else.
DO YOU WORK FROM REAL LIFE OR IMAGES / REFERENCES?
Answer: I always use references for inspiration and I create almost every high-end realistic matte paintings with photos.
DO YOU WARM UP WITH MATERIALS BEFORE YOU BEGIN A PIECE?
Answer: No, I don't have to warm up because there is never any breaktime between pieces. Vacations are the only time of the year with no artworks to create.
DO YOU GET GOOD HANDS / POSES / CLOTHES FROM CONTINUOUS REPETITION DRAWINGS? HOW DID YOU GAIN SUCH DETAILING AND BLENDING WITH YOUR MATERIALS?
Answer: The key is practicing a lot. And try to get critics of your work in order to improve.
HOW LONG DOES A PIECE TAKE FOR YOU?
Answer: It depends on 3 things; technical issues, detail and the quality. Generally, a high-end still image of 3000 pixels width can take between 40 to 60 hours of work.
DO YOU CREATE A PIECE STRAIGHT AWAY TO WORK ON TOP OF, OR DO YOU BUILD IT IN LAYERS?
Answer: I use many layers in Photoshop that I merge together once I'm happy with the result. I merge very oftenly to get a light document. I hate getting lost in too many layers.
DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO WORK SLOWLY AND PAINTSTKINGLY, RATHER THAN GETTIN EXCITED AND WANTING TO FINISH?
Answers: Artists usually want to bring their ideas into images really fast before they get bored. As soon as soon as they consider their piece as finish, they want to switch to an other one. So yes, it's difficult to work slowly and painstakingly but when you create something for a client, it's normal to receive the corrections and notes. It's not you who decide when the image is finish.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE SUCH SMOOTH, FLUID LINES?
Answer: By having help. Softwares have tools to create smooth and fluid lines. A vector base tool is one of them.
WHAT MATERIALS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND PURCHASING TO ACHIEVE A SIMILAR EFFECT TO YOUR WORK?
Answer: You need a good computer with a lot ram, a good graphic card and a good monitor. It's obvious you'll need a graphic pad and Photoshop. This is a good start! Here is more precise specs for professional work: A Wacom Intuos tablet, A 27 inches DELL Ultrasharp Monitor, at least a GE Force 512MB Graphic Card, INTEL Dual Core processor with a minimum of 4GB RAM. And of course, an headphone set with good music!
HOW HAS DIGITAL MEDIA REVOLUTIONISED THE MATTE PAINTING INDUSTRY?
Answer: Between the fifties and the eighties, matte paintings were on large sheets of glass. Artists were using oil painting, acrylics and sometimes pastels to do their background scenery painting that was blended with the live-action footage. The mattes was the little pieces of black paper sheet that people used to hide different part of the camera lens while they were shooting. It was the only way at this time to do compositing! Today, advancements in computer graphics domain allowed matte painters to work digitally, which give new tools and save a lot of time in a production schedule. The term matte painting mean many things and I think people don't know exactly how to use properly these words. But according to this new definition, I would say that today, matte painting mean any creation of images related to environment and backgrounds with a certain attention to realism. A real definition would be more complex but at least, I think this is what people think of, when they talk or read about this.
AT WHAT STAGE DO YOU IMPLEMENT THE RULES OF COMPOSITION AND PERSPECTIVE AND HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THIS?
Answer: Perspective and visual composition are implemented at the early stage of a matte painting because you can't go back once you have started to paint. Composition is done quickly in photoshop with rough brush strokes on small sizes canvas around 1000 pixels width. The perspective aspect come after, using 3D softwares with basic geometry.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE TYPES OF BRUSHES THAT YOU USE AND WHY THESE ARE SO ESSENTIAL?
Answer: Digital brushes are not essential to me. I'm using the usual brushes that comes with Adobe Photoshop. Most of the time, I'm using the standard round brush playing with the softness and size. I know a lot of people who use an incredible range of brushes and settings. I prefer the old school method with no preferences.
HOW ARE OTHER SOFTWARES USED TO COMPLEMENT THE DESIGN PROCESS?
Answer: Around 85% of my work is in Adobe Photoshop. For the rest, I'm using Softimage XSI for any type of 3D projects, Nuke, Adobe After effect or XSI Fx Tree for pre-compositing and Neat Image for degraining photos.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (F.A.Q.) - ABOUT INSPIRATION
HOW CAN I FIND THE MOTIVATION AND INSPIRATION TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL MATTE PAINTER / ARTIST? ANY TIPS?
Answer: My best tip... You have to be passionate and talented. You have to never stop drawing and practicing yourself. You have to learn and know well the proper softwares such as Photoshop, Maya, 3D Studio Max or Softimage XSI. You need also to be your own judge and know exactly your skill level according to the other artists, you have to understand what are your weakness and what to do to improve them. You have to keep pushing and never give up if you know inside of you that you can do it.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BECOME A MATTE PAINTER? WHAT WERE YOUR INSPIRATIONS?
Answer: I did my first drawing at 3 years old and since, I never stop. I always dreamt about doing special effects for cinema. I did many latex puppets, creatures and make-up effects for theater plays when I was a teenager until I discover the first 3D visual effects from movies such as Terminator 2 and The Abyss. I decided to do a traditional cartoon and 3D animation program in a private school in 1996 and 1997. I did different type of jobs for the first 5 years after school, from storyboard artist, character animator, texture artist to finally end-up in matte painting field. Matte painting became a logical choice for me because of my background I guess. It's the perfect combination of my 3 passions which is feature films, painting / drawing and computers.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATIONS? HOW DO YOU KEEP THE IDEAS FLOWING?
Answer: I find a lot of inspiration from movies I watch each weeks, but I like also many artists from the past such as William Adolphe Bouguereau, George Seurat, Paul Cezanne but my main inspiration as a today artist is definitely Craig Mullins. Craig has worked on some of the highest profile films and video games in the last decade. His art studies are totally awesome. He can manage a complex images with only few brush strokes applied at the right place with the right color. Craig is also my principal influence concerning lighting effects, ambiance and mood.