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Environment Design & Matte Painting

Environment Design & Matte Painting

Thuy-Anh Le
by thuyanhle on 31 May 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

I'm an environment concept artist and digital matte painter, and my Rookies entry showcases my level design work for games, and matte painting for film.

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Level Design

The Courtyard

Brief: The courtyard during the day is a place to gather information. It’s desaturated, and the harsh light bleeds the colours out of the landscape.

Mood Shot



Blockout and basic texturing done in blender, and finished off in photoshop.

Level Layout


Key Frame


Stealth based horror game: cafeteria level

The setting: a stealth based horror game- set in circa 1960s America with the rise of psychology as a medical profession, unmetered by a lack of ethics board, and also by extension an uptick in asylums. This is also a period where Project MKUltra, what was broadly known as the ‘CIA mind control program’ was being carried out, oftentimes on mental health patients over a long period of years, where LSD was administered secretly and unconsensually without the knowledge of patients.

Objective: The protagonist is being sent to what they believe is a boarding school that has been repurposed from an old asylum. The new friends they make start mysteriously disappear for long periods of time and when they come back, they come back wrong. The objective is to find them and break them out before the worst can happen

Mechanics: The game operates in 2 phases, the day phase where information is gathered and tools used for the break out, and the night phase where you break them out- be careful however, as the protagonist’s tenuous grasp on reality means that whatever rumours you hear during the day will manifest at night as a reality.

Level Plan

The entire level was blocked out in Blender. I wanted to keep at least 3 paths open for traversal to each objective.

Working with a tight schedule on a large level meant that I focussed the detail in areas that would be showing up on my two key frames, and left more simple texturing and geometry off camera.

Call out

The human spitroast started out as a posed 3D Daz model that was imported into my Blender scene. Since the game's premise meant that things didn't have to conform to closely to 'real life', I wanted to really push the spit roast's rib cage out for a more striking silhouette upon first read.

Key Frame

This is where the concept of my mood shot meets the design of the cafeteria level.

The hydrotherapy level

Brief: The protagonist is rescuing their friend with a deep fear of drowning, from hydrotherapy. The level should feature water/tubs/pipes heavily to emphasise the level theme.


Modelled and lit in blender, then brought into photoshop for the final painting.

Matte Painting

Castles on mountains

I started off with going in and out of photoshop, and 3d programs such as Maya, Houdini and Sketchup for the main castle, before moving into Nuke for the rest of the compositing.

Base & Final Plates

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