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Didier Konings: Marrying Movies To Matte Painting

April 6th, 2016


Didier Konings: Marrying Movies To Matte Painting

Didier Konings works with movies, making digital matte paintings and concept art. Never the less, 3D modeling helps him with composition in an almost cinematographic way. Read on about his adventures and experience!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you go into the industry?

My name is Didier Konings from the Netherlands. I’m currently Lead Digital Matte Painter at the Aaron Sims Company in Los Angeles, CA. I specialize in digital matte painting and concept art. I was born in the 90s, a time when computer animation (CGI) developed and became increasingly utilized. Jurassic Park (1993) blew my mind and inspired me to become a filmmaker.

After many years of making films together with my friends, I started studying visual effects and concept art. There was a lot of experimenting with software because there weren’t a lot of good sources available. I was making all sorts of effects like lightsaber battles, lasers, robots, creatures, aliens etc. It was a really fun time and I always celebrated when the effects worked and came to life.

As a big movie nerd I had the idea to make my own feature film at the age of 17, directing the low budget feature “Boys in War”. I spent four years on it and the aspect I enjoyed the most was design and visual effects.

So I enrolled at the Netherlands Film Academy, specializing in digital matte painting and concept art. Afterwards, I completed a design internship at the Aaron Sims Company, a concept design and visual effects studio in Los Angeles during the summer months of 2014.

There, I worked on designs for several of Mr. Sims’s internal projects, including the music video for “Star Track” by DJ Smash. I also created concepts for the upcoming Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as a Warner Bros. Project set for a 2015 release.

How does it feel to work with movies?

It’s great, you work on something for a long time and finally it gets released for the whole world to see. That brings a lot of charm to the job. Aside from that, work in the film industry can be hard.

How does 3D help you in your art?

3D allows me to look for at the composition through different angles and lenses, just like a cinematographer would do in real life. Most of the time I block out the scenes in 3D to find the right composition to tell the story. It’s a great tool I for both matte painting and concept art.

What kind of research do you do before you start drawing?

I prefer to do a lot of research before I start of drawing. It always helps to go deep in a project, to dive into books to find inspiration. That’s what I like about this job, every project puts you into the position to gain new knowledge about something.

How do you market your products? Can you share some tips & tricks?

I try to keep my website as up-to-date as possible. When a project is finished I make a selection of the best bits to display. I keep most of my rough sketches to myself.

Before exposing your best artworks, be picky with your works and share them with other artists - it helps a lot! Be open to criticism, in the end that helps you grow.

What do you enjoy the most about working in the industry?

To be honest, there’s so much I like about working in this field. First of all, making art and film is my passion so, and the ability to work in those fields is ultimately the reason I’m enjoying this work so much.

Every project brings new opportunities and problems that need to be solved. That keeps this line of work so fresh. Working together in a creative environment, surrounded with awesome artists sharing the same passion and love, is something that is great about this job.

Do you have a favorite moment from working in the industry to share with us?

It’s hard to say cause I have had a lot of fantastic moments and nice experiences so far. It’s always cool to see your work and concepts come alive on the big screen.

What’s the hardest thing being a professional designer?

As a designer you need to find solutions. For example, If I have to come up with extraordinary landscape designs. I need to come up with something believable, but also something we haven’t seen before. It’s always a challenge to come up with something unique. But that challenge is what I enjoy. The road is full of research, looking for unique shapes, experimenting with design approaches. It’s a very satisfying feeling when I manage to design something new.

What software do you use?

I use many: 3DS Max, Maya, Photoshop, Nuke, Vue, Keyshot, Zbrush, Daz 3D, I’m not really attached to a specific kind of software. For me the workflow really depends on the kind of subject / style or project.

What are you working on next?

At the moment I’m working on a Warner Brothers and Disney production. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more about it. I’m planning to do some short films on my own time, some art projects, and I’m currently setting up a tutorial channel for matte painting. I have already released one video and received a lot of positive reactions. The channel is currently in development; the goal is to release a new episode about matte painting every 2 weeks.

What is your magnum opus, so far?

I can tell a lot about professional work I’m doing. But beside my work I’m planning to make a sci fi short film. Telling a story just by still frames in the form of concept arts. Later on I want to develop it into a life action production. But doing it this way I can first experiment in pre-production. Trying to let the story tell itself through concept arts and music.

Please finish the following sentences (be as honest as you can! )

My greatest inspiration is Syd Mead . His work and vision are really awesome and inspiring. There are also a lot of other artists that I admire. There are so many talented artist / film makers out there.

I abandon some of my work when there's something important coming through. Sometimes there's a meeting or a more time sensitive piece you need to jump to.

When I catch myself procrastinating, I need to take a walk, drink something and continue. This job entails a lot of sitting in front of a computer. Sometimes you need to find methods to stay sharp and focused. Going to the gym and doing martial arts also help to be more focused and avoid procrastination.

I’m most productive when I'm inspired by an artwork or a film that caught my attention. It gives me the urge to create something! A burning energy that yells “create!” inside you.

I take a break from my work when I have worked for 40 minutes. I walk to other artists to see what they're working on. I take a lot of walks in-between. It might sound strange but sitting so many hours in a row is bad for my health. It also keeps your mind fresh, and that's very important in this field.

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