I've always been a fan of matte painters since seeing Forbidden Planet as a kid. I never thought I would be able to do matte paintings myself since the eye is very critical about such things. The Ballistic Publishing books on the subject that I've bought are cool to look through, but they don't go into every detail about how the images were created. The books only have enough pages to show the many finished scenes from the many artists that they picked from.
But finally! Yey! Sybex has put out a book by David Mattingly titled The Digital Matte Painting Handbook. The book puts you to work right away rather than leaving you lounge around by the coffee table. It reminds me of the olden days when I sat at a desk and did work in an art class. Maybe they still have art classes like that in school? I have no idea, since all I see now are people glued to their iPhones when I step outside.
I will admit though that I do not have any of the software that the author (teacher) uses. I'm just a 3D hobby person. But I do have an old version of Photoshop that can do layers, which is really what matte painting is all about. And I have enough 3D modeling and rendering software (just not Maya 2011) that can do camera projection. I don't have After Effects. But I'm not trying to do any animation or camera movement. My plan is to just do simple static matte paintings like those used in Forbidden Planet. Hey, I'm old school.
DVD fans will love the fact that the book comes with a DVD with demo workshops for the chapter lessons along with file/image/QT content. My Photoshop CS2 read the Photoshop CS5 files just fine so I could browse through them to look at the various layers in each scene discussed in the book.
It's about time a book like this has been published. Some warnings though. Knowledge of Photoshop is a must. And an artpad is recommended for doing the painting parts. But if you're like me though, you learned how to paint with a mouse in the mid '80s.