7 matte-painting tips from Dmitriy Glazyrin

From knowing your brief to using 16-bit images, CG artist Dmitriy Glazyrin shares 7 matte-painting tips for the beginner artist…

Dmitriy's Behance


Matte-painting is very difficult and time-consuming, but still an inspiring and fulfilling job. Digital artist Dmitriy Glazyrin shared several approaches that will make the process much easier for a specialist of any level. Applying these tips, you’ll notice that you spend less time and effort on new artworks.

Know your brief

Understanding the task is the key to the successful work. Solid preparation will help you to get all the details about the project. In case you have any questions or doubts, never hesitate to contact the client and ask for additional information. Both of you are interested in a brilliant result.

Pay attention to the camera movement – this will help you to figure out the most advantageous composition, find out the exact size – it will influence the amount of space which should be added to the artwork. Also, it’s very important to understand the force of parallax effect, the amount of layers and information which should be suspended depends on this factor.

netflix series poster boat design

The latest project, Dmitriy was working on with Rhubarb agency got Silver Clio Entertainment awards 2019 - Building Wrap

Spend time on references and moodboard

Looking for references is not a waste of time. During your research, you will get a lot of ideas you may use in your matte-painting. What’s even more critical, prepared material will lighten the process of agreement and save much more time from a long-term perspective. Instead of endless corrections, you and your client will get a clear understanding of the future result.

northern lights snowy landscape

Create sketches & thumbnails

A visual reflection of the idea is the best way to explain your thoughts and be on the same page with your client. You don’t have to attend the art school if you have no idea how to draw. There are several techniques, which allow you to make a simple sketch without these skills.

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I use thumbnails to create sketches. With Photoshop and Lasso Tool, it takes about 5 minutes to visualize the idea and make it understandable for your client. The technique is primarily used for digital painting, so you can find enough tutorials about it on YouTube

– Dmitriy Glazyrin.

thumbnails forest castle imagery

Thumbnails and the final picture of “Pine castle”

Spend enough time on materials research

This part of the job may sound like the most boring one, which is why so many beginners fail trying to use the first images they find on Stutterstock. However, it is one of the most vital parts too. If you spend some time searching and get the materials which perfectly fit the task, you will save a lot of time during the production.

There are two main ingredients for a successful search. Firstly, you should totally understand what you are looking for. Secondly, you’d better attune yourself for this job – relax, find nice music and take your time.

Choose fitting light & perspective

Light and perspective are the hardest things to fix in Photoshop. Even if you spend hours on attempts to make them fit, they won’t, and your artwork will look much worse than it actually could. It’s a much wiser solution to spend more time on research than trying to adjust images that won’t fit anyway.

Impatience is the most common mistake among beginners. If a beginner needs a castle, he goes to Shutterstock and downloads the first nice castle he sees without thinking about light and perspective. And then he spends hours in Photoshop trying to fix the picture

– Dmitriy Glazyrin.

Choose 16-bits over 8

16-bit images give you much more freedom for adjustment and correction. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to find this type of image through stocks. The best possible solution is to take your camera and start creating your own library. Nowadays, even smartphones have that option, so you don’t need to spend money on additional equipment.

coco cola advertisement polar bears

Christmas’s rules | Coca-Cola - Dmitriy was working on matte-painting for the project

Be organized with your layers

During the creation process, it’s not that easy to make yourself organized and pay attention to the layers and folders. However, being organized will help you to gain control over the whole work, and you won’t spend precious minutes searching for the necessary layer. Moreover, this approach allows you to prepare the files for composing very fast and give the client a file he can comfortably work with.

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