40 Matte Painting Masterpieces

Matte painting is a widely known VFX technique for years. In simple, it means using paintings to show a landscape as a background. By using a blue or green screen behind your actors, you can take your film out of the borders of stage. Even if the place shown in the film is a flight of fancy imagination, audiences can think it is a real background.

It is often used to create landscapes, sets and scenes for movies, TV and print when building a physical set or traveling to a particular location to film is either cost prohibitive or impossible. This technique requires a solid understanding of light, exposure, color theory and composition. Artist will often use a mix of digital painting, compositing and Photoshop magic to create the wonderful scenes we all enjoy in films. You need to expert at Adobe Photoshop as Adobe Photoshop is the most used software for matte painting.

Today we present 40 Matte Painting Masterpieces from some truly talented artists. Be sure to hit up their links to see more of their amazing work.

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Beautiful Matte Painting Masterpieces

Dan-Ka

This photo realistic matte really draws you into a new world.

Dan-Ka

Tigaer

This fantastic scene transports you to another world. The dock in the foreground gives a great sense of depth to the image.

Tigaer

This stunning scene is on a grand scale. Notice the people on the bridge in the lower right side of the image.

Tigaer

Mitsuk

This beautiful image has melancholy feel to it. It reveals the impermanence of life and all of our struggles.

Mitsuk

The foliage in the front of this scene really add to its perspective and grandeur.

Mitsuk

Tiberius

This stunning visage show the artist’s mastery over lighting and exposure.

Tiberius

Raphael Lacoste

The lighting and atmosphere in this piece is truly impressive.

Raphael Lacoste

A fantastic sunset scene in which the water almost seem to be moving.

Raphael Lacoste

Jamie Jasso

This Sci-Fi piece has great composition and balance.

Jamie Jasso

The light rays streaming down through the windows in this scene look amazing and really add to its atmosphere.

Jamie Jasso

Shahen Jordan

This concept piece was made for Hancock. Its soft glows give it a magical feel.

Shahen Jordan

Dusso

This work features some fantastic textures laid over the modeled pyramid and buildings.

Dusso

This amazing matte painting was used in a Lord of the Rings film. It has misty atmosphere that’s perfect.

Dusso

Andree Wallen

This looks like a scene straight out of the pod races in Star Wars. It has great textures and perspective.

Andree Wallen

The composition in this one directs the eye from the rocks in the foreground to the missiles in the background.

Andree Wallen

Kaek

I love the sense on perspective and depth in this matte painting.

Kaek

Megl

The color pallet in this scene is great. You should see the full-sized image to really take it all in.

Megl

Dylan Cole

A truly masterful depiction of a fantasy city. This one has superb perspective, a grand scale and wonderful lighting.

Dylan Cole

This futuristic vision is simply amazing. I really love the lighted pathways and the city built into the mountains.

Dylan Cole

Dylan Cole is a matte painting master. Is this what vacations in the future will look like?

Dylan Cole

SilentParts

Believe it or not, this is actually this artist’s first matte painting! The colors are just beautiful. You could stare at this one all day.

SilentParts

Cobawsky

This artist gives us a look at the source photos used to make this matte painting. The textures and water reflection make this one believable.

Cobawsky

Raybender

The artist uses a blurring effect to give this piece a sense of depth. Some 3D models were imported then textured to create this Sci-Fi scene.

Raybender

Gordon Tarpley

Wow. This majestic piece has fantastic lighting, atmosphere and textures. This is just an all-around inspiring work.

Gordon Tarpley

Frederic St-Arnaud

This magnificent scene was created for the IMAX movie Journey to Mecca.

Frederic St-Arnaud

Max Dennison

A scene of a deserted Myan city. The composition in this one is awesome. I love the low angle view.

Max Dennison

This matte painting was created for a Lord of the Rings film. Check out the artist’s site to see the source image and the parts he added in to complete the scene.

Max Dennison

Here is another scene made for The Lord of the Rings. It has remarkable atmosphere.

Max Dennison

Sven Sauer

I find the perspective and vastness of this scene compelling.

Sven Sauer

Another great matte painting by Sven Sauer. This one has a desolate feeling with its expansive tundra.

Sven Sauer

M. Pavel

This unique concept is beautifully executed with great lighting.

M. Pavel

You really get a sense of the enormous scale of the cavern in this piece. Everything from the foggy atmosphere to the reflected lights on the water just looks amazing.

M. Pavel

Tiziano Fioriti

I really like the texture of the rocks and grass in this one. You realize how massive the mountain and castle is when you notice the little house in the foreground.

Tiziano Fioriti

Inepsses

The textures in this matte painting are extraordinary. You really must see the full-sized version on the artist’s gallery page.

Tiziano Fioriti

CGPolis

Everything about this work is flawless. The excellent lighting and composition make it look like a real world location.

CGPolis

Another wonderful creation that looks photo realistic.

CGPolis

Further Resources

This article is originally published on Jun 28, 2010, and updated on Jan 25, 2023.
AUTHOR
Tim Mercer is a photography enthusiast, graphic designer, artist and blogger. His blog offers free resources for the digital artist and graphic designer, as well as tutorials, artist interviews, inspiration and more.

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