THE SMA FORUM ARCHIVE
Posted by Jim Aupperle, on 2008-03-13 18:21:24
How do you do this?
Posted by Nick H, on 2008-03-13 19:00:52
Make a painting. Stick it behind your set. Easy! :P
Are you thinking of an outdoor scene?
That's what I mostly use painted backdrops for.
You can paint directly on a smooth wall, on a plywood panel, or a big sheet of card or Masonite. An 8 ft x 4 ft (2430 x 1220mm) panel would be a good size if you have the space. You want to leave a gap behind your set so trees and buildings don't cast a shadow on the background, so it needs to be a bit bigger than your set. (Also, you light the background with soft light from the rront, since all the highlights and shadows are painted on. But your set needs directional lighting to bring out those shadows and highlights on three dimentsional objects, so you need to searate the two.)
I have a 4.8 metre x 2.4 metre frame with 3mm ply on it, for big backgrounds. I staple cotton canvas onto it.
Then I roll on an undercoat of white water-based wall paint, and let it dry. The canvas will tighten up. If it's a sky, I might even use a light blue for the primer coat.
Then I paint the furthest back bits first, working my way forwards. So I start with a gradient for the sky, then add clouds. Then the horizon and distant hills. The any mid-ground if that will be part of the background.
Short video of painting sky:
I have to decide what will be on the backcloth, and what will be built as a set.
The canvas backcloths can be taken down and rolled up for storage.
At the moment I am doing a smaller forest scene on a piece of masonite about 3 ft x 5 ft. The same system applies, I do the more distant trees, then the closer ones.
I'm at the stage where I put a model tree in front of it and light it, then try to make the closer painted trees look a bit more like the model so it isn't as obvious where the join is.
Most matte painters work in oil paints, but I come from a TV Scenic Art background where we had to paint full scale cloths for use in a live action studio. So I work mostly in waterbased, flat plastic wall paints, which are cheaper in bulk than little artists colours in tubes. I get a 4 litre can of Accent base for strong colours, and have my own set of universal pigment for tinting it. I make up the colours I need in plastic juice bottles. But with smaller panels the price isn't such an issue, so use what you are comfortable painting with.
I start with big brushes, or even rollers, to rough it out, then use smaller brushes to bring out more detail where it's needed.