Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with matte painter LeonK. In our discussion LeonK shares his views on several topics including why he decided to become a matte painter, and how he improved his technique. Please take a moment to review this excellent interview.
Q Welcome to Psdtuts+, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?
Hello everybody! I'm Leo and I'm a self-taught digital artist coming from Brescia, Italy. It all began a couple of years ago when, by chance, I found some Italian design forums and was fascinated by the signatures and avatars which at that time looked really awesome. I decided to start experimenting with Photoshop. At the beginning it was quite difficult, but I was able to improve pretty fast since then and reach a quite good level.
Q Your collection of art features several Matte Paintings. 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?
Since I moved to large art I was attracted by matte painting because of it's capacity to combine different techniques, such as photo manipulation and digital painting. Making a good matte painting isn't as easy as someone may think! Your skills have to work together, you have to be good at blending photos, at making a good use of textures and finally, you have to be good at drawing the details your artwork needs to look really epic; but what really distinguishes a matte painter from a digital one is that a matte painter really focuses on making the large piece as real as a photography; the matte painter really has to work a lot on the paintings in order to make the viewers say "Wow, that looks so realistic!".
Q Have you always been artistic from childhood? Or did it start to appear later in life?
To be honest I always loved drawing, since I was young, and this was probably because I found it a way to spend some free time and put my ideas down on paper. All this is mainly due to my father, which showed me how many things you can do with just a pencil and a piece of paper.
Q You are currently part of the design collective Intrinsic Nature, what would you say are the benefits to a designer joining a group like this and submitting art on a regular basis.
I think that being part of an art collective is extremely important, especially for young designers because thanks to comments and critique they receive from the members they can improve their artworks faster and, at the same time, they learn new things and can get to the next level quicker!
In my opinion critique is the key of an art group: giving and receiving it from members really helps in the creation of a piece; it just gives you an idea of what's wrong with your artworks, what actually isn't working on your piece and how you can make it better instead, which things you should remove and which ones you should add, and so on. An art group just gives you the opportunity to keep improving your skills and, why not, make a name for yourself in short time!
Q "Loneliness" is another one of your matte paintings that evokes the same emotion it is named after, please walk us through how you created this amazing illustration and what the inspiration behind it was.
It's actually quite interesting how "Loneliness" came out: in fact it could sound a bit strange, but in that piece I was inspired by Napoleon's conquests in Italy, while my history professor was talking about them! My illustration mirrors what human beings can do by using their "intelligence", their force, that they are able to devastate entire countries for glory and so.
The dog was added just after a while. At the beginning I thought that some ordinary people influenced by wars would have been perfect; only in a second moment I realized that they probably wouldn't have underlined the real meanings of loneliness better that a dog, an animal that, in my opinion, always wants to play, to have fun and is moving around all the time. It's actually sad to see them being unable to do such things and that's why I decided to bring the animal in my piece istead of people.
Q Who or what were your main influences that made you pursue the field of designing?
This is a good question. To be honest I think that one important thing that made me pursue the field of designing is that I always wanted to learn new things, especially in what I liked most. This is why, for example, I wanted to have Photoshop! While surfing the net and watched cool movie trailers, in particularly sci-fi, I just wanted to know how people could have done such stunning surreal landscapes. This motivated me, of course, to learn always more and more new things, motivated me to keep improving my skills in Photoshop.
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?
To be honest I have quite a unique way of working. My design equipment actually features just a couple of things, Photoshop CS4 and... my mouse. It might sound really weird that a painter still uses his mouse instead of a cool, big, extremely useful tablet for drawings, I know; but don't worry, I'm going to get one very soon!
Q Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thanks for having me! What I would recommend people is to never give up from what you are doing even when things don't go how you would like to. Just have a break from what you are doing and look for inspiration by watching movie trailers and checking out art collectives' exhibitions.