This is a walkthrough/tutorial for the FWA Hellbeast wallpaper.

Getting Prepared

A fundamental step in the creation of a Matte Painting is the set up work that precedes it. Always start with a pretty clear idea of how your overall Matte should look like, the type of scenario you are trying to reproduce and the emotions and feel you are attempting to create.

I have always found it useful to start by doing a quick sketch (which usually gets trashed soon after) which allows me to divide and sub-divide the portions of the piece and the action.

In order to create a well balanced Matte you need to think about perspective, light and shadow sources, and dynamic balance.

Dynamic Balance is created by the visual strength of the elements in the painting, therefore disposing elements in a specific way will allow you to direct the attention of the viewer exactly where you want it.

Furthermore try preliminary color palettes to help you set the mood, and prepare basic self made brushes and tools you may already want to use.

At this point start your search for images that may work well together and convey the feel you are looking for.

See the sequence of images we used for HELLBEAST:


Blocking-In Main Elements

Once you have all your imagery selected and ready start blocking main images using natural shapes of buildings or creating edges that seamlessly blend the structures of the photos together.

During this phase it may be very useful to switch back and forth between color and B/W scale, this way it is easier to identify values rather than tones; values give you a better understanding of what needs to be darker or lighter and helps creating perspective and depth of field.

The further an element or detail is from the camera the lighter it will be (lower contrast), while 0bjects closer to the camera will be darker and with higher contrast. This helps simulate the atmospheric fuzzyness that is proper of distance.

Convert all layers to greyscale (or simply de-saturate them completely) and use the dodge and burn tool along with playing with contrast/brightness settings and luminosity; blend in all edges and elements so that it all becomes one single image.

See the Grey Scale rough composition we created with the images. Clouds were made using standard Photoshop brushes and custom brushes:


Adding Colors

At this point you can start adding color to your Grey Scale Matte. Create empty layers on top of your piece and set them on multiply/color screen/color burn (depending on the type of effect you are going for) and start hand painting and block-in main colors.

See this stage of the wallpaper:


Use your Color Palettte as a reference and start setting light sources, speculiar lights and shadows.

Continue adding colors until all main tones are set and colors are defined. At this point you can start hand coloring and illustrating details, expanding the scenario as necessary (horizontally or vertically) and re-texturize the entire piece.

See this stage of the wallpaper:


Lights & Shadows

Good use of Light is critical in Matte Painting. Through a good understanding of the fundamental principles of lighting you will be able to define vicinity and distance, perspective, depth, roundness and flatness, height and all basic physical properties of elements in the Painting.

In addition good lighting will increase the dramatic feel of the piece, providing a cinematographic experience.

Use gradients, hand brushes shadows and shines, always keep in mind how light reacts to surfaces and shapes. Perhaps studying light refraction and distribution with a table lamp may help unveil some interesting effects.

Be aware of the different behaviour light has on liquids and solids, and the amount of refraction the 0bject has.

Here is a series of global relighting and shadowing phases of the Matte:



The more time you spend on details the more the overall piece gains character and personality.

Devote full attention to all parts of the painting and use your imagination to come up with ideas for possible animations, details that can be added, further elements to be integrated, characters that can populate the scene.

See this stage of the wallpaper:


3D Modelling

Characters in this piece were modelled and rendered in 3d, with heavy Photoshop postproduction.

The Beast character in particular was modelled in Maya, detailed in Z-Brush, and rendered with Mental Ray.

Given the illustration style of the Matte and the type of colors and speculiar lights, we decided it probably was a better choice to render the character out in greyscale and use the very same heavy duty hand brushing and detailing techniques used for the rest of the Matte, for integrating a 3d in a 2d environment can be tricky.

Here below are some phases of the modelling and color correction/post production stages:


// Visit Tutorial Page with images at:


// View the Wallpaper at:




About the author, Davide Bianca
CEO & Lead Art Director, Saizen Media Studios

SAIZEN MEDIA STUDIOS is an internationally acclaimed and award winning Design Firm that specializes in highly cinematic and detail oriented imagery.

Saizen Media Studios was established in early 2007 and is the result of a joint venture between Hentsix Design Studios (Italy) and Fubon Design (Russia). Known for its meticulous approach to layout creation and attention to detail Saizen Media Studios now has offices in both Italy and Russia, providing services in the fields of Web Design, Graphic Design, Motion Graphics, Packaging and Music Production.

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