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


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


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

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


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

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


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

Raphael Lacoste

The lighting and atmosphere in this piece is truly impressive.

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

Jamie Jasso

This Sci-Fi piece has great composition and balance.

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

Shahen Jordan

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


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

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

Andree Wallen

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

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


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


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

Dylan Cole

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

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

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


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.


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.


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.

Gordon Tarpley

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

Frederic St-Arnaud

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

Max Dennison

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

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.

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

Sven Sauer

I find the perspective and vastness of this scene compelling.

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

M. Pavel

This unique concept is beautifully executed with great lighting.

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.

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.


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


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

Another wonderful creation that looks photo realistic.

Further Resources

This article is originally published on Jun 28, 2010, and updated on Apr 25, 2022.
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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