What Matte painting is?

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The beginnings of Mattepainting

Matte painting began as a painting technique in which a photorealistic image of a landscape or environment was created and used as a background in film or television scenes. By the end of the 70’s Matte painting was already being used in films such as Star Wars.

In those years, film studios could not afford to spend millions of dollars to film in remote locations. It would also be impossible to find a location for films like Star Wars.

What is Matte painting

What is matte painting today?

The evolution of Matte painting over the years has been extraordinary thanks to the digitalisation of images. What began as a painting technique used for film and television has been extrapolated to different creative areas such as advertising, video games and even architecture.

Today we can say that Matte painting is the integration of several images or videos in the same scene, using 2d, 3d and postproduction programs such as Maya, Photoshop, After Effect or Nuke, creating compositions that would otherwise be difficult to film. This technique is widely used in films, commercials, posters and more and more applications for new media that are emerging.

The concept is simple: Use paintings or images to replace a background. Although it may seem very simple, the technique is quite skilful and artistically demanding because the paintings used to replace the background must be realistic enough for the audience to think it is a real background.

Keys to consider in a Matte painting project

As we have seen, Matte Painting is not the same today as it was in the beginning. We can’t call Matte painting a technique, but rather a mix of disciplines and skills. There is no pattern to follow to make these compositions, the workflow can vary depending on the type of project we are working on, but there are a series of previous concepts that are necessary to know when starting our matte painting.

  • To make the composition convincing, we must define the point of light and the perspective of the composition, in order to detect the light and shadows cast by each element and to achieve their integration at a global level. In addition to having knowledge of the physical behaviour of light and the texture of the objects when they interact with each other.
  • The artistic style, which will determine whether we need the skills of an illustrator, a 3D artist or a photo editor.
  • Another important aspect is to achieve a balance of tone, saturation, brightness or contrast between all the elements so that the composition manages to transmit what we need. For this we will use image editing tools, masks or digital painting together with the knowledge of colour theory, composition, etc…

“With the rise of new technologies, matte painting has spread to areas such as virtual reality, video games and advertising”.

Matte painting composition

Most influential matte painters artist

Dylan Cole or Yanick Dusseault are two talents people who hands the style and they have collaborate in great productions like “Pirate from Caribbean”, “Narnia” or “Lord of rings” creating surreal images. Here you can see to Dylan Cole, how work this technic for great productions in films.

How to learn Matte painting?

Due to its boom, schools have emerged (most of them online) dedicated exclusively to its learning, such as Mattepaint. There are also introductory and more advanced courses where you can learn different techniques on online platforms.

You can also get inspiration and ideas by visiting websites such as artstation or cgsociety where you can also purchase mini-courses to improve different techniques for a very cheap price.

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Categoría/s: Digital art


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