All artwork and text is copyrighted by Paul Lasaine, unless otherwise attributed to the respective copyright owner. It is illegal to publish, print or reproduce any such artwork or text without written permission by the artist or copyright owners.

Welcome to my my Portfolio Page.

This is where you'll find my professional work (and some personal pieces as well).

As always, I'm unable to post my current work, as it's for films that have yet to hit the big screen.

Don't forget to visit my BLOG. There's more of my work there, plus a bunch of other fun stuff.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Flushed Away

I did a few early vis-dev pieces for Flushed Away...while it was still an Ardman Project. This one's my favorite...mostly because I had a fantastic layout by art director, Pierre-Olivier Vincent (POV). By the way, last year POV won the Annie Award for production design for his work on Flushed Away! For those of you who aren't familiar with the Annies, it kind of like the Academy Awards for animation.


Shark Tale

This is an illustration I did as the "final look" design for the first animation test for Shark Tale. Other than this, and a couple of concept illustrations, I didn't really work on the film. My good friend Pierre-Olivier Vincent (aka: POV) did the layout for this one.


ElDorado: Waterfall

I was an Art Director on the DreamWorks production of Eldorado for about 10 minutes. Here's the one painting I did that's worth a damn. It's based on a drawing by the production designer, Christian Schellewald, who's one of the best designers I've ever met. Check out his book: LA/SF: A Sketchbook from California published by Design Studio Press.



Often, in the field of visual development, we work on projects that never see the light of day. That was the case with the ill-fated, Moby Dick (from the whale's point of view) at DreamWorks. At first, when I was asked to help develop it with directors Paul & Gaëtan Brizzi, I though it was a joke. After all, it was a throw away line from Wag the Dog. But After working on it for a while, I came to realize it had a lot of potential...if done right. Unfortunately, the studio lost faith in the project, and shelved it.

Here's some work I did for the show. Sadly, this is probably the only place you'll ever see it.





Layout: Paul & Gaëtan Brizzi



Layout: Paul & Gaëtan Brizzi


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Prince of Egypt

In 1994 I left Disney, and matte painting, to embark on a new path - one that I hoped would lead to Art Directing. I signed on with DreamWorks Animation to work on their first 2D feature, The Prince of Egypt. I started off as a visual development artist, and ended up as a co-supervisor of the background painting department.

The following images are a small sample of the hundreds of painting I did for the film. Some of them are pre-production design illustrations, and some are actual backgrounds. None of them are digital. Other than touch ups, color correction, and hieroglyphs, all the painting on POE was done traditionally. Our background department didn't go digital until our second 2D film - The Road to El Dorado.

As animation work tends to be a very collaborative process, the layouts for many of these paintings were done by some of my which case I'll do my best to remember who the artists were, so I can give them proper credit.

Layout: Mark Mulgrew / Darek Gogol

Layout: Darek Gogol

Layout: Darek Gogol

Layout: Darek Gogol

Layout: Richie Chavez

Layout: Benoit Le Pennec

Layout: Christian Schellewald

Layout: Christian Schellewald

Layout: Richie Chavez / Mark Mulgrew

Layout: Richie Chavez / Mark Mulgrew

Thursday, October 11, 2007

First Post: Matte Paintings

I thought it fitting that for my first post, I go back to my humble beginnings in the film a Matte Painter. In March 1988, I began working at now defunct, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group (Disney, for those of you not in the know) as an apprentice matte artist, fresh out of art school. I spent the next 7 years in the matte biz...mostly at Disney...though I also did a bit of freelance at other studios.

All but the last two are what are now referred to as “Traditional” matte paintings (i.e. not “Digital”). I started in the matte business only a few years before the digital revolution happened. I was fortunate to have been one of the last of the matte artists who actually painted on glass with real paint…which means that I was also one of the first of the new breed of matte artists that painted on computers, when my Matte Department went digital a few years later.

Unfortunately, I never found digital matte painting as much fun, or as challenging as traditional matte painting (sorry, no offense to you digital matte painters out there.) So in 1995, I hung up my matte painting brushes and started concentrating on concept design and art direction.

Here are a but a sad few of the matte shots I actually have digital files of. They’re all in the “before and after” format, with the live action first, and the final composite last. A couple of them didn’t have any live action, so there’s just a painting.

My first big show was...


THE EL (Elevated) TRAIN:
This was the first “finaled” matte painting for Dick Tracy. I painted it along with my supervisor, Mike Lloyd. After finishing it, the director (Warren Beatty) came by to take a look. He said that it looked totally real - that if he didn't know it was a painting, he would have been totally other words, it was completely wrong. What he was looking for was an unreal world - one that didn't exist and couldn't be filmed. The best example we had were the matte paintings Peter Ellenshaw did for Mary Poppins, which were very idealized versions of the real world. So we went back into the painting with an eye for pushed color and graphic compositions. Warren loved it, and the "Tracy" style was born.

This painting is the background level of a multi-plane painting of the city. The character was shot in front of a blue screen and composited into the painting.
The first Batman film came out while I was working on this shot. In honor of it, I hid a little Batman in the painting.

This is one of the several paintings we did to create The Bridge location, for the climax of the film. Except for a few limited set pieces, almost all of the bridge was created by matte paintings. Most of this scene is painted, with the "real" portion of the scene being the stair case and a small, square section of wall behind it.

This painting took about two weeks to paint. Only when I was done with it, did someone point out that I'd misspelled "Warehouse". Go back...fix it.
By the way, in keeping with a long Disney tradition, we hid Mickey Mouse in almost every matte shot in Dick Tracy. Can you spot him in this one?


In Dave, when the White House appears on screen, it's almost always a matte painting. Why not just shoot the real White House? You can't. No cameras crews are allowed to set up on the White House grounds. You're welcome to shoot from the sidewalk, but if you need a shot from within the gates, you have to create it yourself. Building an entire full size replica of the White House would be incredibly expensive. So sections of it were built and extended with matte paintings. For this scene, the center portico was built as a setpiece at the Los Angeles Arboretum. I painted the rest.

If an Art Department is really on the ball when they're designing a matte shot, they'll build just enough set to serve as a backdrop for anything that moves in the scene. Anything outside the "motion area" can be handled by the matte artist. In this case, the moving object is the car, and the only portion of the White House that was built, was the low wall that's visible just above the car's roof.

This scene was cut from the film just after I finished painting it. As a consolation prize, my boss said I could have the painting, which, at Disney, was almost unheard-of. There must have been a curse on it though, because of all the hundreds of paintings on glass in the matte department, the only thing we lost in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake was this painting.

This scene could have been shot for real on The Mall in Washington D.C. However, the crew was here in L.A., and it wouldn't have been worth it to send everyone to Washington for one shot, so we shot the live action plate here in L.A., on the golf course in Griffith Park at about 2am. As the painting needed to represent an existing location, it was necessary to get some good photo reference of the real thing... which I shot from the base of the Washington Monument, in 5 degree weather, sometime around midnight, in January of '93. I’ve never been so cold in my entire life.


When doing a matte shot, it's a good idea to get a few frames of the surrounding footage to help you to understand the environment, lighting, mood, etc. Sometimes, you don't get any surrounding footage, or the cuts you get, don't help any. That was the case for this painting. The surrounding shots were all closeups of the actors, shot on a soundstage. The only set piece was a chimney, and two, out-of-focus, phony pine trees. The art department gave me architectural plans of the houses, but that was it.

I wish this shot looked better in the final film, because I was really happy with the painting itself. It was my fastest painting ever. Everything was working right, and even though it was a pretty large painting (5 feet across), I completed it in one day.

This one, I did not complete in a was more like a month. The concept here was that Santa's workshop was under the polar ice cap. I felt that a mix of architectural styles would give it a timeless appeal, as though this place has been here for a long time. There's renaissance, baroque, gothic, art nouveau, Victorian, etc., all rolled into one. I started this painting by roughing in all the buildings as dark silhouettes. That way I could see how all the big shapes worked against one another. Once I was happy with the space and the atmosphere, I turned the lights on.


Most traditional matte paintings were painted on glass…a rather delicate material upon which to create a work of art, to say the least. Some of the old time matte painters boast that they never had a painting break during their careers. I wasn't so lucky. I lost two - this was one of them. The easel that I was using, gave out in the middle of the night and fell over. I found the painting in a million pieces the following morning. Fortunately, I'd finished it the night before, and we shot it for final approval before we went home. Lucky for us, it was approved by the director, who didn't know that he couldn't have another re-shoot if he didn't approve it.


Most of my work, I do in acrylic. This however, is one of the few matte paintings I painted in oil, and I think it's one of my best paintings. Unfortunately, I'm not happy with the way the shot ended up in the final film. C'est la vie.


This was one of my first all digital matte paintings. This is pre-Photoshop; we used the painting module from Disney's CAPS compositing system. It was pretty rudimentary.
Part of this painting was done by Chris Evans.


In 1999, I moved to New Zealand to work on The Lord of the Rings. Later I'll dedicate an entire post to my LOTR work. But in the meantime, here is one of the matte paintings I designed for The Fellowship Of the Ring. I say "designed", because this is really just an illustration of what I wanted the shot to look like. The final painting was done by Laurent Ben-Mimoun. Check out his web site...