This image is a matte painting I created for pleasure. The original idea was just to make a landscape with an interesting atmosphere; the idea of the mountaintop mining developed after I'd searched for some photos and references for this matte painting.
I decided I wanted to depict a representation of human madness: digging a huge hole in a mountain, damage the landscape and nature.
I started with an aerial photo, which gave me a really good sense of depth. The landscape in the photo was virginal and not dominated by the big mountain. It's a landscape that can be improved. I then began to search for other references and aerial photos... (Fig.01).
Here are some of the references I gathered that had particularly interesting elements that would make for an easier and faster matte painting (Fig.02).
Next I made a couple of layers where I could quickly sketch out some lines. The first was just to put my ideas on - the hole, the mountain chain etc - and then on the second layer I was more definite, and sketched in the mountain chain (Fig.03).
Then I started making my mountain chain with elements cut from the reference images I'd gathered, and painted in a shadow for the hole. At this stage the elements were just posed on the image; they weren't completely blended in with the landscape yet (Fig.04)
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