Matte painting in Star Wars movies

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Nowadays, the enviroment of some movies that we see in cinemas or series, are often in part or in whole, digital creations made by CGI. The great progress in recent years in this area has allowed access to this resource for both large and modest productions.

The beginning of matte painting

Pero hubo un tiempo en que los cineastas, debido a las limitaciones técnicas de la época, abundaban en los efectos prácticos en plató y lograban sus escenarios gracias al increíble trabajo de los matte paintter sin necesidad de utilizar la tecnología tal y como la conocemos hoy.

At that time, computer-generated imagery (CGI) was not yet popular, and it was used “matte painting” technique which consists of painting landscapes with oil or acrylic paints on a glass surface. Once the image was finished, it was merged with the video or incorporated in post-production.

From hangars with hundreds of ships and soldiers to incredible landscapes, there’s a lot matte painting in Star Wars movies than you might expect. This technique, now in disuse (the last major production to make use of this style was Titanic), perfectly combined this artwork and real action by finding the right perspective.

Matte painting StarWars movie

In the first Star Wars trilogy, the matte painting technique was brought to excellence to elaborate scenarios that even today seem so real that some people swear that they were shot with real sets. The cavernous interiors of the Death Star or some of the general scenes on Tatooine are shot using this technique.

The best scenes from Star Wars were hand painted on a shower screen.

Who is behind these Matte painting compositions?

Chris Evans, Michael Pangrazio, and Ralph McQuarrie have had long and prolific careers in movies. Their paintings have allowed us to be transported to exotic places and distant worlds long before digital cinema.

A continuación te dejo con un par de capturas en las que se muestran como llevaron a cabo los Mattepainting que luego pudimos ver en la gran pantalla. Si quieres más puedes acceder a este artículo de la web oficial de Star Wars.

Below I leave you with a couple of screenshots showing how they carried out the Mattepainting that we could later see on the big screen. If you want more you can access this article from the official Star Wars website.

Star Wars Matte painting
Star Wars matte painting

Making of Matte painting for Star Wars movies

In the next video report we can see how Matte painting was used to recreate the scenery in the first Star Wars films.


Where can I learn Matte painting techniques?

Matte painting is a technique that has evolved over time, using all available resources to integrate, as faithfully as possible, real images with other assets to compose the final scene.

For that reason learning Matte painting techniques involves acquiring knowledge of different creative areas, such as digital painting, traditional painting, 3D modeling and texturing, postproduction, etc..

In this article you can access a good selection of courses where you can learn from the basics of Matte painting to a much more advanced level.

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