Interview with DNEG Environment Supervisor
Oleksiy Golovchenko walks us through his cover image for the NZ Alps pack!
Introducing the NZ Alps Pack
This pack features a range of content from New Zealand shot in all seasons. Mountains peaks piercing low-lying clouds, epic sunsets on the grasslands, mountains climbing up from massive lakes and epic ranges stretching to the distance.
Interview with Cover Artist, Oleksiy Golovchenko
Oleksiy (Alex) is an Environment Supervisor at Dneg, Vancouver.
His recent works include
Alita: Battle Angel, Deadpool 2, Catch 22 & Dark Crystal.
What is the story being told in your cover art?
It’s an ancient structure, but what exactly is up to you! I had this idea that it was some kind of ancient relic. The story of the people and campsite is that they have just discovered it and a team has come to investigate and some are going to look around and see if they can find more of them.
How did you come up with it? What inspired you?
Well see, here’s the thing, I was always a huge fan of the King Kong films so when I saw the plates I thought “okay… maybe there could be a rock structure or an arch in here and maybe it’s a portal to somewhere”. But when I started doing the portal, I did the first pass and thought “well that’s kinda boring” so I was thinking, what can I do? I didn’t want to over complicate the 3D, I wanted to integrate it to the plate. So I started browsing through my library of 3D stuff and I saw some spider webs and I though that might be cool. Maybe it’s some kind of giant spider that has been here. Once I added this, that’s when it started to work!
“I was always a huge fan of the King Kong films…”
The idea is to give the feeling like at the beginning of King Kong, when you hear the roar, and there is movement in the trees but you don’t really know what’s going on. You’re thinking “how big is it?… it *was* here but now it’s gone and why is it gone, where is it now?
So I went with this kind of look because I really like the more suggestive look where people can look at it and come up with their own story. Like, maybe it’s not a spider, maybe it’s some kind of weird matter from a different dimension, that kind of thing
I wasn’t super precise with my direction, I just sort of let it take me wherever as I went, as I painted.
What was your approach to creating this image?
When I was browsing through the pack, I actually chose an image with snowy mountains and sunset and thought “man this is beautiful”, but then realized I needed to add something in the foreground so after choosing the foreground piece I pretty much started working from the foreground and eventually the i changed the background image to suit. So yeah, then after that I started working on the 3D and matching that to the plate!
Actually I really like this approach to creating art because it’s based on a task which is to create something from a specific photo or plate. What was really great about this is that you have to force yourself to work to the plate and, to me that’s one of the key skills you need to work in the industry. You always have a plate and a brief so you can’t just go crazy and create whatever you like.
So with this it’s like “can I keep this and still make it interesting?”. In my VFX work that’s always the case, there’s always something to constrain your work… a plate, a concept, a brief from the director. I actually can’t remember a time when I was just told “blank canvas, go nuts!” haha.
What Software did you use?
Photoshop and ifx Clarisse!
What did you think about working with this pack?
I think it’s awesome, actually in general I just love everything about MattePaint. There are other guys doing similar stuff but you guys went with a gallery first and now packs are there for those people who need something of a specific theme or you want something for a specific exercise.
It’s really the quality that stands out from MattePaint because you guys know what you’re doing… because you guys know what is needed in the industry because you have worked in the industry and been through it all. That’s what’s nice about MattePaint, the Gumroad packs and Artstation packs for a couple of bucks are cheap but you know what you’re getting for that price, it’s either out of focus, low res, noise all over the place, so yeah, I just use MattePaint because I can trust the quality of the images.
Why do you make art and how did you get into the industry?
I always liked landscape paintings from old masters like Ivan Shishkin and later on I discovered painters from Hudson River School, these guys inspired me and drove me a lot early on. Also I think everybody needs to make some stuff from time to time, to tell a story or just explore places we have never been before.
I started as a web designer in early 2000’s and did that for like 5 years, most of the time I was creating photo-bash style promotional images. At some point my friend, who was a director on a TV channel, ask me “hey do you want to join the team?” so I went there for about 4 years that was more proper DMP work for TV projects.
This the whole way I was always thinking “I wanna work on movies”, but you know, I didn’t know about matte painting until ~2005. I knew it existed but not what the process was. So that’s when wI started posting my work and looking and tutorials, looking at what people are doing and learning from them. I got some freelance work but it was mostly commercial work because not much film work goes to freelancers because of all the secrecy.
You know it’s kinda funny… I know people who all their live are like, “i have stories to tell!” and they want to make their own movies and artwork and all this. I don’t have that. I don’t have any stories I need or want to tell so my work is usually something quick and with a simple story. I really like that because I focus more on the concept of “what if this…” and because the story is so small, it’s so suggestive, when you show it to people they start coming up with their own interpretation of your images. I get this a lot in my work and really love asking people “what do you think of this story” and seeing what they say and how their imagination works.
Olekskiy is an environment supervisor at Dneg TV, Vancouver. You can follow him here:
This interview is part of our NZ Alps photo reference pack. Oleksiy created the amazing cover art and interview. There is also a guide on how to recreate his work. Here are a few useful links if you’re interested:
The NZ Alps Pack
The NZ Alps Guide (coming soon!)