Sketchfab Use Case: Paris Megalopolis - Matte Painting

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I’m Benjamin Bardou! I’m a matte painter artist in VFX industry and independent film-maker. I’m living in Paris.

My early movies were very experimental with a large influence of montage/editing theory (Godard, Eisenstein..) who did not have any access to matte painting at all.

With my last short movie Gloria Victis I directed a full CG experimental film and it was nice to practice the my two passions at the same time.

For this project, I combined my matte painting and directing skills into a cyberpunk movie which take place in Paris. I want to combine several epochs in the same image: the Commune of Paris with some ruins and some elements of a probable future.

The piece that I’ll show you is a part of the pre-production of this project that I call PARIS Megalopolis.

My tools are Photoshop, Maya, Vray and… Sketchfab! 🙂 Meshlab and Blender was useful to convert some models in OBJ format, with an image size of the image is 4K to make good print with it.


I took a photo near the place where I’m living.

It was in summer at 8 am. I had to go back several times to have the right sun direction (look at the shadow on the left wall) with the fewest cars in the streets.


I cleaned the streets to have empty area. Even if other elements come over by thereafter it is always easier and clearer to have a clean image.

It was essential to take extra photos to do the later restoring (go behind the cars, make more pictures of cobblestones).




One of the big challenge in this image was to destroy the central building. In my mind it was like a bomb had fallen on it.

First of all, a matte painter have to get as many references as possible. I had some personal photos of destroyed buildings in Paris but it wasn’t enough.

So I googled with differents keywords: “city destruction”, “bombs buildings” in high resolution (remember it’s a 4K matte painting).

I used indoor photos of destroyed buildings where I could see the floors. With these images, I was able to reconstruct the destroyed interior by duplicating and restoring the floors with paint techniques.



For the pile of stones, I had no photos in sufficient resolution. I decided to recreate it using 3D models. spPaint 3D Script was perfect to scatter some instance models.

Sketchfab was very useful to find this kind of elements.

I used some downloadable SA Rocks from Game Props.

I settled some sun direction in Maya/Vray and I had a very good base for starting my pile of stones.

I mixed my 3D renders with some photos samples to increase realism.




After the main building, I wanted to put some life in this image with characters. I found CODAME profile and its pretty 3D scans of characters.

I’ve to choose those in a particular position and specific clothing because I’ve to add some details to make a cyberpunk style of them.

For example I used Chun and Krista models.

I placed others models in the background of the street.

image08image00STEP 6

I used the same process for the vehicles and props.

The search engine of Sketchfab was great. Using keywords like cyberpunk and scifi made it easy for me to find the right models.

Renafox, Ptis and luyssport were perfect to add a future touch in the image.

I painted the 3D renders to add some dirts and scratches on the surfaces.




image15image10STEP 7

I added some personal props from photos or 3D (cables, boxes, papers, broken windows) to complete the matte painting and adding a huge amount of details to make this one alive.

Finally, Sketchfab was very great to find the right models for the right place. The search engine and quick load of the models improved and optimized the time of creation of this image.

I plan to use again models available on Sketchfab for my future images as I have seen very beautiful models created by talented artists lately.

So, let’s keep in touch ! 🙂 Find me at ArtStation, Facebook, Gumroad, VimeoInstagram, and here on Sketchfab

Thanks, Benjamin! Has this inspired you to use Sketchfab as a database or create matte paintings? Share any below if you have favorites! Ask any questions you have below! 

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