A Behind the Scenes Look at the Work Processes of World Renowned Artists

At the FanExtra network we believe that the best way to learn is from experts in your field. That’s why we employ some of the best tutorial writers and bring you regular quality content.
Tutorials are great, but I often find myself looking at work from some of the world’s top digital artists and wondering about the thought processes, techniques and workflows used to create such incredible art. I always think ‘if I only I could get my hands on their original Photoshop files I’d be able to break down exactly what makes their work so awesome!’.
Well that’s exactly what we aim to offer you guys, as part of our new series ‘Artist Breakdown’. We’re going to be talking to some of the world’s most respected digital artist’s and offering an insight into how they’ve created some of their most popular works. We’ll also provide a full .psd source file for our FanExtra members to explore. This will allow you to look through every layer, object, blending option and technique used. It’s a true behind the scenes look into some world-class work, and we hope you enjoy it!
Artist Breakdown #6. Sergey Akinflev: Ballad About War (Source File Available)

Today we’ll be talking with Sergey Akinflev about his stunning piece Ballad About War. You can check out more of Sergey’s work at his Behance profile.

1. Ballad About War is a near perfect example of matte painting at it’s finest. First of all, can you tell me a little about how to selected the various photographic elements required for this piece?
It started with a basic picture – it was a boy from the backstage short film. Then I got the idea. Other source pics that I used in this piece are from photostocks and google. Finding the right pics is very difficult and time-consuming task. You must find source pics with similar lighting (or to do new lighting – and it’s very difficult).
2. I would argue that the little details in this piece are as important as the huge landmarks. For example, the red flowers in the patch of grass add a beautiful subtle element of color. Do you have any tips for how to focus on details such as lighting and structural elements?
Yep, the demon is in the details. After long work with light, perspective and other parts of your pic you have to take a pause. And on other day with a fresh eye you make last finishing touches. There is no need to hurry when you work with details – it’s very important not to be sloppy when you do that.

3. What would you argue are the key points to consider when constructing a successful matte painting?
As I said earlier, you should find source pics with similar lighting (or to do a new one which is very difficult). The more pictures you have, the more difficult to collage them. They all should have similar perspective, especially if you collage landscape and people in the same piece. You can use various techniques to hide mistakes: fog, tone, tall grass, lensflare, etc.
4. Do you have any favorite aspects of this piece? Perhaps small details that the rest of us may not notice, but that were a challenge or achievement in it’s creation for you?
You are right, little red flowers were hard to add to that piece and I thought for a long time what flowers I want to plant there. Also, I personally like reflection in the water and the mountains in the distance. It all turned out to be really beautiful, after all.
Source File for ‘Ballad About War’