Matte Painting Tutorial

We will be creating an mystic night scene with rainy atmosphere. Few preprations are required before you start. First basic step is a concept and where will be the matte paint used? Always start with rough thumbnails. Bring down your thoughts on paper. Scan it if needed.T ry to colour them roughly with simple patches of colours considering the atmosphere you want. Once you are happy with the result its time to finalize!

Before we start our final work we need to collect references and high resolution images. Refrences and image library is very important. Don't just look for sources on the net but also from books, photographs or click some good snaps yourself.

This the final matte. Before i start i normally divide my page, if the matte has to be fully generated on the computer. Normally horizon line should be off center so that it dose not divide the picture into 2 parts.

Step 1

I start colouring the water first with an airbrush with an textured brush so that it gives me no sharp edges. everything should be smooth. Opacity of the brush is 50%. This gives me overall idea of the placements.

Step 2

Now in a new layer above the water layer i start adding details. some mountains foreground mountains dark and background ones light. some debris floating on thewater or some small plants.

Step 3

Now here i start adding details on the right side of the scene. I have merged hand painted mountains with some photographs.

Step 4

I continue adding details with some more photographs of rock and painting over for the desired effect. Finally we get the basic layer of the matte. now we need some depth and more details! It's time for some rainy clouds.

Step 5

Ok, now you must be wondering how did i get this? yes, its again merging of photographs and hand painted clouds equally. Eraser, air brush and rubberstamp are the main toolsi used here.

Step 6

Ok, now I place the cloud layer over sea layer. Slightly overlapped at the edge of horizon so we get smooth blending! :) I know you still see the unfinished edges but dont worry we will fix it ahead.

Step 7

To create some more interest, I added an tower like mountain. and painted itdark blue. Also, some extension of the picture is done with help of some snaps and i hand painted over the rocks a bit.

Step 8

The final desired effect i need was something blue and mono colour feel with different tonal value. so firstly i converted the step 7 picture to black and whitegradient map and then i played around with colour balance and variation tool. Finally we are done to composite this shot.


A. Keep all the pictures or references or ur painted layers in different sets in the layer tool-box. name the sets clouds, ground, mountains etc. so its easy tonavigate when it comes to the point of some changes in the picture.

B. If you plan to animate it in after effects, with some subtle cloud movements, thenbe carefully you dont merge the layers into one.

I hope you all like this small tutorial and if u have any questions please do mail me back.

You can also check out some more matte paintings at my email contact : Shantanu Jahagirdar,

Best Regards:
Shantanu Jahagirdar
2D Supervisor / Digital Matte Artist
THESIGN - Digital Pictures Entertainment

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