View Full Version : What's a matte?

06 June 2006, 04:44 PM
Hey this may be a slow question but I'm gonna ask anyway.

I haven't really been trained as an artist. So like what is a matte painting exactly? I mean its obvious that they look like environment paintings, but why are they called mattes and how do they differ from environments?

Was just curious. Thanks!

06 June 2006, 05:27 PM
hi aLoneCuzzo, well I think we all had the same doubt at the beggining, first I would like to say that matte painting is one of the oldest visual effects ever in cinemas, it's history has lots of old classics films as well as artists:
here's some quotes from's same thread

Originally Matte paintings was a post process of double exposure. On set they'd use a "MATTE" to hold out exposure on film and then re-expose it with a painting in its place. Weather its done on glass on set or done on glass during post, process back then was the same. Hold out MATTE..Paint where the Matte was.

this was the traditional way ,now all has become digital, and for most of the people it is faster and with better results

Matte paintings in productions are going to become more photo-real cg environments, because of complicated camera moves, and just in general the freedom of moving around within an environment. Cg matte paintings are already being used by many artists/studios, and the results are great, and it is only going to get better, and these creations more exciting.

in my words, matte painting is not just doing enviroments or stitching photos together, it is a complete art where in this time a matte painter has the skill to create concepts. visualize them, sketching , 3D modelling texturing rendering, 2d painting, photo and video composition, and a lot more. it is one of those techniques where u have to keep learning several softwares to achieve the image you want.

follow this link to a little history about matte painting, written by craig barron , founder of matte world digital

I also recomend his book " the invisible art " by craig barron and mark cotta vaz
a must read

in this link you will se lots of matte painting in action, cool gallery by

06 June 2006, 05:45 PM
Thanks a lot!

That was very very helpful! I checked your gallery too. Great work!

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