Ed Lopez is a veteran designer who has mastered several styles ranging from matte painting to photo manipulation and 3D integration. In our interview Ed lends some words of wisdom about his career as well as the programs he uses in tandem with Photoshop to create his astounding art. This is the perfect interview for a newcomer to Photoshop because the advice given can’t come from a better source.
Q Welcome to Psdtuts+, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?
Thank you very much for the warm welcome; well I am currently living in Mexico City I started in graphic design and matte painting about the time Windows 95 was the hot new thing and the computer had less power and graphics capabilities than current cell phones.
I was asked by the golf course manager where I worked to take photos of a golf course in construction and make some manipulations to make it look finished and working; so there I was hooked! From then on I started learning the intricacies of matte painting, manipulation, design, 3d modeling etc. everything that I needed to make an image look the way I wanted, and used my background in photography to work out composition depth and perspective.
Q You categorize yourself as a “Matte Painter.” Could you give us a small look into what exactly a matte painter does opposed to just a painter? And how does the art differ between the two?
Let’s see "Matte Painting" now days in general has a small percentage to do with actual painting, you paint in details in one degree or another but its certainly heavily mixed with photo manipulation, 3d elements, and Photoshop magic; and in digital painting you just use brushes in PS to create your image, it is mostly because this process its much faster than painting the whole scene which I have done; so the studios and clients always prefer faster results.
So I really don't categorize myself as a Matte Painter, I love Matte, and would be delighted to make my living out of it only, but the reality is nowadays you have to cover several areas to stay afloat. So I do graphic design, paint, use 3d apps and do matte painting at the same time.
Q You have a very original style that blends 3D art with digital painting. Tell us a little about how you mix these two styles and create your astounding matte paintings.
Thanks, I have learned Matte painting from all the lectures and tutorials I could get my hands on through the years, from Dylan Cole, and Yannick Dusseault, to my fellow countryman Jaime Jasso and Painting directly from Greg Martin Through the Experience the Planets Collaboration. So I guess I took a bit from every step in the learning process. And what I do to mix the 3d elements its carefully texturing and blending them in PS, I rarely import a textured 3d object onto a painting, I texture it shade it and blend it in Photoshop adjustment layers are God sent! :)
Q What are some of the programs you use to create the 3D scenery that is in your matte paintings? And what advice would you give to designers who are looking to use these specific programs to create matte paintings?
I usually work with either Vue or Terragen 2 to render my base plate if I don’t have the stock for it or the opportunity to go and take the images which its the ideal scenario. I have worked with TG2 from its pre-launch version and had years to get under the hood, certainly not user friendly and the learning curve it’s steep; although the results are breath taking.
The latest version of vue is much more easy to use and learn and the upgrades in atmospheric engine, and procedural terrains and textures capabilities have made it very usable; although very expensive and extremely hungry for CPU power and large amounts of ram.
Q "Anasazi" is an incredible illustration that you created exclusively for the readers at PsdTuts. Please walk us through the creation of this piece, and what exactly is going on in it?
Yup talking about Anasazi precisely all the aforementioned techniques are involved in it. The base plate was done in Vue 8 where you can appreciate the capabilities and qualities of the atmospheric engine and the procedural textures and terrains, from there all the ancient buildings and bridges where digitally painted in PS, and finally the face was rendered in Cinema 4d brought into PS where it was textured and blended and at the end the camps, people, fires and such where painted around it.
I always like to theorize and represent fictional events where civilizations didn't go extinct and what would happen if the course of history was different as well as the always theorized Alien influence in such cultures.
Q Your illustrations cover scenery from deep underwater depths to space and everything in between. What would you say is your favorite type of scene to create and why? Give us some examples.
My favorite scene has been a mix between alien landscapes or scifi landscapes with Space, so what has been called Terraspace its certainly what has been predominant in my work, although I enjoy as you say everything in between, whatever scene comes to my mind I use all the tools and knowledge at my disposal to see it come together. Lately I have been trying to do less scifi space scenes to balance out my work with very real possible scenes like Anasazi itself , Circi or Vulcano.
Q All digital painters use tablets when designing, so tell us what tools you use to create your amazing paintings? What does your specific equipment bring to your design that you wouldn’t get with another tablet?
Certainly if you want to get into matte or painting and many other illustration and art fields you need a tablet; no doubt about it, and for that go as high as you can in the price range, it is worth every cent if you are serious about it. I use a wacom intuos 3 6x12 tablet; the pressure sensitivity, precision and quality of this tablets do not have any comparison to the other brands are out there which are mostly toys.
Q Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thanks to you for the interview it is greatly appreciated indeed. To the guys and girls who want to go for art in this or any field, be patient read, learn ask, and be patient a bit more, any image you admire its not created in 20 minutes, an hour or three hours, it takes days or even weeks or months to finalize an image. Cheers and thanks again to PsdTuts for the opportunity.