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Launch Your VFX Career with Matte Painting

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In VFX, there are several different parts of the process that you can choose to specialize in. From character concept creation to animation, there is a specialization that you will definitely love. If you love the idea of creating the world that the characters are submerged in, then matte painting will be the way to go.

Matte painting has been used in a traditional form and now digitally to create a world or background in filmmaking and video game creation.  The technique combines art and live action to create the illusion of an in-depth background or setting. Often, this is used to avoid backgrounds that are too expensive, inconvenient, or impossible to film live.


How Does Matte Painting Work?


Matte painting was originally a photography technique that was used in the late 19th century. Backgrounds were paintings on sheets of glass that created the illusion of different villages, warehouses, the night sky, and more. Today, they’re mostly all digital versions.


Digital Matte Painting Today

The backgrounds you see today are most often created with computer programs that utilize live action composited digitally. The live action shots are inserted into a painted fictional world.

Today, these digital matte paintings are created from scanning photographs of handmade artwork, collaging images, or even just digital painting techniques. Modern matte artists are responsible for creating entire landscapes, or they can do smaller set pieces such as buildings to be added to the footage.

With the use of modern technology, digital matte painting allows artists to completely change the landscape. A simple background can become thousands of people, change the appearance of the sky, and more. A film can be manipulated many ways through the background!


Tools for a Matte Painter: Photoshop

As a matte painter, you’ll be working under the direction of a film art director. You’ll be given a description of the mood of the scene and any specifics that the director would like included. As the artist, it’ll be your job to bring the background to life.

You’ll start by creating a concept piece to work from. This is most commonly done with tools such as Photoshop or Illustrator, but the tool that you’ll likely use the most as a matte painter is Photoshop!

Once the concept piece is approved by the art director, creative director, and/or the film director, then you can move forward with your creation process. Next, you’ll continue working in Photoshop to create the actual digital painting. This can be done using the concept piece as a starting point, or it can be done completely from scratch.

Fundamental Steps of Matte Painting

As a new artist, you’ll likely make many mistakes. There are a few fundamental steps of matte painting that you can follow to ensure that you have success each time! Here is the basic process from MattePaint:

  1. Perspective – matching so that all vanishing points align.
  2. Grading – ensuring all the images colors, saturation and brightness match.
  3. Integrating – blending the images so that content looks seamless and realistic.
  4. Atmosphere – adding haze and fog to add depth to the scene where needed.
  5. Post Processing – final touches and post processing

Of course, this is a simplified workflow of what it actually takes to create a realistic scene with digital matte painting. To truly become a professional in the industry, you’ll want to learn from just that: the best in the industry!


Learning with a Digital Painting Course Online

If you’re ready to launch your career in VFX, you may wonder what steps you need to take to go from a beginner to landing your dream job. Often, many people think you need college to bridge that gap, but we have a better solution.

You can start your learning today with a digital painting course online! The Digital Matte Painting course was designed to take your matte painting to the next level, creating a 2.5D environment and help you launch your career.

Since matte painters who can create a truly photorealistic environment are in high demand, this is a sure way to land your dream job! This course will take you through the entire digital matte painting pipeline using Photoshop, Nuke, and Maya. You’ll be constructing a digital matte painting from start to finish, which will help you create a stand-out portfolio.

This course will give you a deep understanding of the digital matte painting world and workflow. You’ll also have the knowledge of how to troubleshoot new problems or tasks as they arise. By the end of the course, you’ll:

  • Have developed your 2.5D projection in Nuke
  • Have an understanding of what it takes to develop photorealistic environments that meet industry standards
  • Understand how to properly plan a production pipeline for efficient workflow
  • Have the confidence and ability to create advanced photo realistic digital matte paintings


Course Details

With this course, you’ll get immediate access. You’ll be able to access this course online at your own convenience. The lessons are available in a pre-recorded format for you to take at your own pace.

The course is divided into seven easy-to-understand modules that build on each other:

  1. DMP within a Visual Effects Pipeline
  2. Principles for an Efficient Workflow
  3. Techniques for Improving Photorealism
  4. Using 3D as a Starting Point
  5. Setting up in Photoshop and Nuke
  6. Time to Paint!
  7. Finalizing Your Shot


This course is a great entry point for anyone who would like a VFX career. It’s a great alternative to college because it requires significantly less time and tuition requirements. You also will have access to lessons at your own pace, and won’t have to worry about passing or failing!

If you’re ready to kick-start your career in VFX, you can click here to learn more about the Digital Matte Painting course today!

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