Birmingham Slum
  Play by Play

Birmingham Slum

I'm creating an environment concept for a slum area of Birmingham with industrialised elements taken from the show.

12 931 6
Round of applause for our sponsors

Update - 4 Jan 2020

This is the finished concept. I'm relatively pleased with how it came out, given that I had other engagements during this contest - I am rather pleased with the quality of the piece. Using 3D to benefit my concepts is something I have started to do regularly, as it solves a lot of issues for me prior to painting like perspective and lighting.

Though lighting is still a challenge when interjecting photos into a concept, as I have to learn to manipulate the hues and light balance of each image I photo bash in. This proved to be challenging when adding the clothing lines, and the crates - some elements feel out of place compared to the rest. During the process of creating this piece, I thought a lot about how the light would be effecting certain areas, for example; it's clear that the light is coming in from the left but is not touching the inner left side of the image - so it was important for me to communicate that by ensuring that all the images I added had the right balance of light.

I think I captured the essence of claustrophobia well, and the grime and dirt that would normally be seen in a slum like this back in the late 1800s to early 1900s. I achieved this by using rough textured brushes, and lots of grungy textures to push the piece forward. I think where the factory scaffolding is up top could probably have benefited from more light/bounce light where that glimmer of sun is coming in amongst all the smog, the contrast of light and dark may have benefited the harshness of the environment.

Of course, every piece has its imperfections - but I think that this was a really good exercise to better understand how I can use images and 3D to help better my concepts, not only does it save a lot of time - but when working with realism it does a great job of communicating ideas well. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the outcome, as it's allowed me to recognise my weaknesses and where I can do better next time - and it was a fun exercise!

Links to all images and textures used in this matte painting:


Crate 1:


Grunge Brick Wall 1:

Window 1:

Grunge Brick Wall 2:

Brick Wall:

Washing Line 1:

Washing Line 2:


Window 2:

Grunge Brick Wall 3:

Cobble Floor 1:

Cobble Floor 2:

Window 3:

Crate 2:

Comments (2)

Update - 3 Jan 2020

Update of where it's at now. I'm problem solving some things like clothing lines and lighting - trying to really make it feel nasty and claustrophobic. Unlike my previous screenshot, you may notice that the large industrial chimneys I stripped back to just grey silhouettes because I actually found it more effective than using images for it. I also cut and duplicated parts of the background to suggest more going on in the distance, as my goal is to make this slum feel as closed in as possible. The finished concept will be posted over the weekend!

Update - 12 Dec 2019

Decided to go with a composition with some slightly harsh lighting coming in from the left. Thought I'd share the stage it's at currently. I'm using a range of photo textures and matte painting techniques to achieve a grimy realism that reflects the shows themes. I have a filter over the whole piece right now which makes the environment look really bleak, which I believe makes it a more convincing as a Peaky Blinders scene.

I'm hoping to get this done in the next couple of days, otherwise it'll be finished after my Christmas break. Stay tuned. :)

Update - 11 Dec 2019

Some compositional thumbnails! Experimenting with lighting mostly and slight changes to the angles.

You can see in some thumbnails I added more elements as it goes on, like large chimneys and buildings. I wanted to emphasise the claustrophobia by having these larger buildings overhanging the slum, to make the alleyway feel more cramped and uncomfortable.

I like the idea of having sunlight beam through the scaffold work, but I'm thinking that maybe a more gloomy/dark setting would be more appropriate to get the mood I want; so I might go for more neutral lighting.

Comments (2)

Update - 10 Dec 2019

Update on the process of the environment: Trying to add elements to make it seem more claustrophobic, like taller buildings in the back and large bits of scaffolding to emphasise how close the slum is to the industrial area. I'm going to add a bit more, maybe continue to warp the buildings a little to make them appear more unstable and make the pathway a little more busy with more crates or more extruded areas of the houses.

Comments (2)

Update - 9 Dec 2019

Upon researching about Peaky Blinders, I discovered that the gang were active in the late Victorian era and the shows adaption shows the gang post WW1. I found some really good images that represent poverty areas of Birmingham and England in general after reading about the real gang members. I'm designing an environment concept that represents the tight, dark slum areas of cities in England around the 1900s and taking some elements from the late Victorian era. With this, I plan to integrate the industrialised element of the show in this concept, adding smoke, hazy lights etc. to really give the piece a sense of it belonging in the shows themes.

I've started blocking out my idea in Maya, I've done this because I think it's really useful to get different angles and camera views I can later use as compositional thumbnails. Once I have completed my scene, and have a composition I am happy with, I will start to paint over in Photoshop.