Matte Painting Landscape

Photoshop to Nuke Matte Painting

Introduction

The first part of this project was to design and build a matte painting suitable to be brought into Nuke and transitioned into a 2.5D projection. One route would have been to bring the finished matte into Nuke and roto the pieces there. I chose to merge all my groups within Photoshop and prepare the layers to be projected individually within Nuke. 

Process 

I set out to design a backdrop for a futuristic project that captured a lonely and empty feeling. I found some reference photos to develop a mood. 

The next step was to create the matte painting. I collected a series of skies, backgrounds, mountains, and rocks, then began noodling with the perspective and block out until I was happy. Color correcting and grading the individual pieces was challenging but in the end it seemed ballenced. 

After assembling the plate, I cut out each element that would need parallax in Nuke and flattened the individual layers so they would be easier to use in Nuke. This took several attempts moving back and fourth between Nuke and Photoshop until I worked out the setup that Nuke liked the best.

Simplified layout that makes Nuke happy.

Once I read in the file there is a button on the read node that breaks the Photoshop layers into nodes that Nuke can read.

Once I read in the file there is a button on the read node that breaks the Photoshop layers into nodes that Nuke can read. Next i added a premult and crop in preparation to add them all at the same time to the scene node to protect the structure. I then added a card to each branch that had matching parameters as the camera. I had to guess since I did not have the original plate meta data and went with a 35mm film back. 

Once everything was in place I selected all the cards and added a scene node allowing Nuke to create the scene. This method allowed me to use z space to move the cards into position and maintained the proper perspective and focal distance. The next step was to clone in some sky and mountain extentions to aoolow for camera movement.

The 3D projection of the cards in Nuke.

Conclusion

This was a fun project that had a few more curve balls then expected. Setting up the layers in Photoshop in a format that worked nicely into Nuke took some trial and error. In the end I am confident that I could do it much faster having found a workflow that seems stable. The next issue was adjusting the cards for parallax in the camera movement. Overall it was a good learning experience and also refresher in Photoshop.