Marco, only 17, started out designing like many people do, by creating signatures and avatars in various forums. But these activities actually ended up building Marco’s design foundation as he learned many pivotal Photoshop techniques. In our interview Marco explains the challenges of matte painting and tells us how he creates some of his amazing art. This is another great interview with a talented artist so make sure to check it out.
Q Welcome to Psdtuts+, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?
Hello! My name is Marco Casalvieri, 17 years old, I'm from Italy and I'm a self-taught digital artist. I started becoming interested in digital art accidentally. I was surfing the net and I stumbled across a forum logo made with Photoshop that at the time looked amazing; I was really fascinated by it. I always loved to draw, but I never thought of myself as a painter or an artist, so I started to do very simple things with Photoshop like signatures and avatars. These things may seem useless to some people, but they actually helped me learn most of the Photoshop features and thought me so much about how to give the right colors and tones. I did this for a year or so (2008-2009) and then, when I felt I was ready, I started making something more challenging. And now here we are...
QMatte painting can be a real challenge for some designers, how do you feel you've gotten a grip over this style since you've started creating this type of art?
I think it is all about the method you have. In order to make a great matte painting, you need to go through several phases. I've seen a lot of people attempt making a matte painting starting very randomly, just looking for a few stocks that may look good and then trying to blend them together with some painting. The outcomes will never be as good as the results you can get when you "plan" your piece, going step by step.
I usually start with a quick drawing on paper just to put down the idea. You need to do this in order to decide where you're piece is going. Then I move into Photoshop and start to paint everything. This makes you get the mood of the piece, and it's also a way to see if I'm able to complete the piece by just painting it. If not, I look for photos on a couple of free stocks sites and then start the blending process, that sometimes is a really long and boring process which is why I'm trying to concentrate myself into full paintings, avoiding stocks.
QAll your phenomenal paintings feature an aspect of fantasy in them, what draws you to creating these imaginative scenery shots?
This is a very good question. Honestly, I don't know. I'm not the fantasy kind of guy, maybe it's just that I like to represent the places in my mind I will never be able to see. Plus, fantasy pieces are usually the most scheme-free kind of representation, apart from abstracts. I like to experiment, to try new techniques every time and that’s why I like to put fantasy elements in my paintings, I think it helps me in my personal evolution, and help my works in their overall impact.
QYou have only been creating digital art for 2 years, how have you evolved as an artist in that time period?
I think I evolved a lot, and I'm still evolving day by day. I started by making simple photo manipulations, but in every piece I started painting more and more, which led me to the point I am at now, where I'm currently trying to achieve good results by painting only.
I have to say that during these 2 years there have been a few moments where I thought to drop all this because I wasn't good enough. But I always try to remind myself that if I'm de-motivated by other people its because I'm comparing myself to someone who has been doing art for their whole life, and that what I achieved in 2 years some people achieved in a lot more, and this is something that makes me really proud of myself.
I'm also getting a lot of motivation from the art collective I'm part of, Slashthree. It's a group of amazing people and incredible artists: what I learned there in a few months is way more than what I have ever learned about digital art.
QSome designers your age decide that they will take their talents to a University to perfect the craft of digital art, are you planning to do the same? Or will you look to skip that and head straight into looking for work?
My biggest dream is the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. A lot of my favorite artists went there, a few are now teaching in that school, it looks like the perfect place for me. The main problem is that the school is situated in California and this makes everything much harder. I'll basically have to go from one continent to another, a completely different world. This is not something that everyone is capable of. But I really want to study there, It’s my goal, and that is something that everyone should have even if you're not planning to go anywhere, for whatever activity you’re doing, you need to set a goal in order to stay motivated every day.
QTell 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, or design program?
I use Photoshop CS3, a Nikon D60 if I need some specific photo that I can't find anywhere on the internet, and my tablet, a Wacom Bamboo Fun, which is a very affordable but still high-quality tablet that I recommend to everyone who wants to get into the field. I'm currently trying to find the money to buy a bigger and better tablet, maybe an Intuos. In a few months ill have my birthday, so finger crossed I hope I'll get that as a gift!
QWhat do you think is your biggest challenge in terms of your artistic process? Have you overcome this obstacle yet? If so tell us how.
I think that the biggest challenge is the beginning of a piece. Every time, in every piece, I have a lot of difficulties. I lose the enthusiasm very easily when I'm in those situations, because it always seems like I'm not getting the results I had in my mind. I believe that this is because of the method I was talking about before, which is still very far from perfection. But for these things you need a lot of experience, and the only way to get the experience is hard work, which is what I think I've been doing recently.
Q Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
No problem, it's been a great pleasure. The biggest advice I can give to everyone who wants to start with matte painting is to watch. You must watch everything around you, starting from the simplest cloud formation, to the silhouette of a mountain. You need to study what you want to paint, you need to have in your mind the correct image. Sometimes people tend to have an approximate idea of things without really focusing on every detail, without trying to catch the smallest particulars. This is something that every good artist needs to do, because that is what really makes your pieces better than the others.