Thomas Johnson

B.S. industrial Design


I grew up making super 8 stop motion movies with friends on my block and this led me into making monster masks in high school. I was close to going to film school but chose the design route. I studied industrial design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I was lucky enough to be graduating right when CG was really taking off, and began work at Warner Brothers on Batman Forever. I was helping design gotham city as well as building and texturing the cg models. Next went on to Digital Domain in Venice Beach to do design work, modeling and texturing as well as matte painting on The Fifth Element. It was the last project I worked on that used actual practical miniatures. Then went to Hawaii to work as a concept artist on Final Fantasy “The Spirits Within”. It was a mix of artists from the Tokyo based company Square Enix. We did a few other projects before closing in 2002. We also created a episode featured in the Animatrix compilation film. After Square, Electronic Arts recruited me to join their Vancouver concept art department. I was at EA for 8 years as both a concept artist and game play designer. On projects Skate 1,2,3, Need for Speed, FIFA, to name a few projects.

After EA I returned to film and animation as a matte painter working at Sony Imageworks on projects such as, Hotel Transylvania 2,3,4, Storks, Angry Birds 1,2, The Mitchells Vs the Machines, and Currently am lead matte painter on Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse. I began teaching at Van Arts from 2007 - 2013. Teaching Matte Painting for VFX, Digital Concept Art, and Art Foundations. Then moved to Vancouver Film School to teach Introduction to Matte Painting and being a Concept Art Mentor for their Animation School. Currently am a part time instructor with CEA program.

Courses taught

  • ENTA 1302: Digital Painting for Visual Development
  • ENTA 2111: Matte Painting for VFX

Areas of Interest

Am interested in projects that design and new art ideas drive and push software into new places.

In addition to technology, landscape painting is very inspiring. Being outdoors and seeing light work is really incredible. Sometimes just looking at how light and shadow work together is the best learning.