About the VFX industry- week 2

  • Concept artist

The concept artist’s responsibility is to translate all of the story’s ideas or script into images. In other words, they use the given information to design the creature or scenes mentioned in the script. Thus modelers and animators can make these ideas ready for production.These designs can be defined as concept art.

Many companies will employ designers or concept artists to exploit the characters or scenes included in the project. These artists should paint the illustration or sketch based on the director or author’s idea and help them to visualize the original idea.

The concept art can be specific and abstract. It can be created through any tools such as pencil, watercolor, or computer.   For example, the artist who created Alien, H.R. Giger, prefer penciling panting. And the Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, like traditional tools to make such as mark-pen, watercolor. 

Typically the concept art in film production can be defined into two parts. In the first place, before start shooting, the duty of the concept art team is to visualize the word into images and develop a possible idea about the project—for instance, the character design or scenes. Sometimes the first version might come from the director’s sketch or storyboard. The artist should make it more clear.

The second is making the unclear part of the first version more specific, which can help the modeling artist build a model. For example, detailing the decoration of the stage or show the building from different angles.

  • Matte Painter

Matte artists create digitally painting, which can be used in the background of the frames. Matte painting is used to create scenes that are hard to find in real life or change the details in the shots.

Commonly matte painting is used to set in the large-scale scene, especially for the long shot. Traditionally, the reason is that sometimes the reality scene can not meet the director’s need or fit the script. Therefore, the director will let artists painting on glass and place it in front of the scenes to reach the ideal result.

Norman Dawn drawing via Cinepatas

Matte painter will be involved in Digital Environment Department; their job can be divided into four parts.


They need to paint the background which is far away from the camera.  

Gone Girl

Set Extension

The matte painter needs to adjust some of the detail or materials in the shot.

Digital Environment

The design of the digital environment is quite complicated and challenging. It needs several artists to work together for many days.


Painting on the images.

  • Prep artist

Prep artists clean up the backgrounds of live action-footage and prepare the clean footage for the compositor. Prep artists use different techniques to clean the frames, such as Maya, Photoshop ,and Nuke. They remove any unwanted objects or scratches like the logo on the building or stains on the wall.

  • Compositing artist 2D/3D

Compositor combine all of the digital material in the final step to make them appear as one cohesive image and shot.

As a good compositing artist, they need a good taste for beauty and recognize what makes their frames appear realistic in terms of light, color, composition, and perspective. They need to excel in the 2D/3D programs such as After Effects, Blackmagic Fusion, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, and Photoshop.


Zwerman, S. and Okun, J.A. eds., 2012. Visual Effects Society Handbook: Workflow and Techniques. CRC Press.

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