Heather Abels

Heather Abels

Heather currently works as a set Extension Artists at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles having worked previously as Matte Department Supervisor at Rhythm & Hues on blockbuster films like Life of Pi.
Life of Pi marked her third time contributing to Oscar winning visual effects films in a career that has taken her around the world from Weta Digital in New Zealand to her current home in Burbank. Her body of work ranges from epic studio franchises such as Avatar and X-Men to national advertising campaigns and animated features.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Science at East Tennessee State University in 2002, Heather set off for California to pursue a career in visual effects. Enrolling at the Academy of Art University in the fall of 2004, San Francisco became her new home. During her studies she began an internship at Matte World Digital and quickly became an Assistant Matte Painter.

Over the next four years Heather completed her MFA, and continued her work at companies like Giant Killer Robots, Matte World Digital and The Orphanage. In 2008 Heather moved from the Bay Area to Rhythm & Hues Studios in Los Angeles. During her tenure at the studio, Heather rose in the ranks from Matte Painter to Matte Department Supervisor. In doing so she was able to cross the divide between artists and technicians in order to build and adapt the department to meet new demands, as seen in the Academy Award winning film Life of Pi.

Heather was fortunate enough at the start of her career to be mentored by legendary industry veterans who made the leap from traditional matte painting to digital, and in turn hopes to mentor a new generation of artists to make the leap from 2D to 3D digital matte painting.

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Heather Abels's Courses


Advanced Matte Painting
with Heather Abels

Take the Matte Painting skills you have, and apply them to real world scenarios.
workshop-level-a A
8 Weeks 8 WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Jul. 22) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)