Hi! I’m Maxx Burman, I’m an Art Director and Matte Painter, I’ve been working in Film and Games for the last 10 years. Recently I’ve been working on an art show called Disconnect, which is a journey through this futuristic derelict world. It’s been a super fun personal project that’s let me try out some new techniques, and today I want to walk you through how I created this image, The Harvest.

Whenever I start any project, I like to do a lot of research. Half the fun of being able to throw yourself into a new world, is learning about something new. I knew I wanted to do a painting revolving around GMO’s or food automation, so I did a lot of reading on hydroponic farming, urban farming, and all the advancements in agricultural sciences. I put together a reference page for the subject, and another page for the mood, lighting and materials I wanted to capture.

After I had a clear idea of the target I wanted to hit, I jumped into Maya and started Kitbashing some geo. Rather than model with primitives, I built my bin out of panels from Vitaly Bulgarov’s kits in order to get a lot of details quickly. Usually when I’m modeling, I know the form and structure of what I want, but I use 3d kits or Turbosquid models to get a lot of the smaller details. My goal is to get out of 3d and into painting as quickly as possible, so using existing models as a base really speeds up the process.

Once the plant bins were created, I moved on to creating scaffolding, signs and a center platform. Using these 4 assets, I instanced them over and over to create the feeling of repetition and complexity.

I created a singular aisle in maya, to make sure the spacing was all working, and to set my camera, but in the end, I exported a single bin, scaffold, platform and sign.

The camera angle was pretty straightforward, I had a clear idea of what I wanted, and adjusted the lense until I got a grand feeling. I used the viewport grids in maya as well, to make sure everything was tightly aligned to ? marks, ¼ marks and symmetry.

I imported everything into Keyshot, where I started experimenting with textures and shaders. I bought a couple different plants from Turbosquid, and scattered them around inside the bins.

I tackled texturing and shading similar to how I had done modeling, starting with the bins, then to the scaffolding, then to the signs, and finally the platform. I tried to reuse shaders as much as possible, to quickly get what I wanted, knowing that I would break everything up once I got into photoshop.

Once I was happy with the textures and shaders, I selectively deleted bins to give some variation to each side of the aisles. I also scattered different plants in each aisle to give additional levels of detail.

I used Keyshot's Pattern tool to instance the assets, with rotations, and create multiple aisles. The final scene ended up being upwards of 3 billion polys. Because I knew Keyshot could handle anything I threw at it, I didn’t worry about optimization, instead I just let the render cook for a while.

With texturing and lighting complete, I started rendering out each row separately, so that I could control Foreground, Midground, and Background elements individually. Each had a couple different render passes (Beauty, AO, Spec and MatId) In photoshop, the first step was to bring in all the renders, and use my MatId to create layer masks for each piece of the scene.

After all my renders were in, and masks set up, I started to add a deep background, layer in some atmosphere, and color correct my renders.

The renders alone, with some color correction, got me pretty close to what I was looking for, and gave me a great base to start painting on top of. I started laying in photo elements, and painting decals and textures, to get the level of detail I wanted.

The last step was to add my final lighting,bloom and color corrections to finish it off:

We'd like to extend a huge thank you to Maxx for sharing his awesome process and the techniques behind it. Be sure to check out www.maxxburman.com to see more from Disconnect! And don't miss out on evolving your skill set from Maxx directly in his Intro to Matte Painting course.