Cleopatra Queen of Egypt Matte Painting, Frederic St-Arnaud (2D)


Title: Cleopatra Queen of Egypt Matte Painting
Name: Frederic St-Arnaud
Country: Canada
Software: Photoshop

To begin with, I always wanted to create a Matte Painting with the famous Taj Mahal monument from India. This project was also a great occasion to do something different than usual, not dark and scary but beautiful and hopeful. So, I found an interesting photo from my trip to India and just start to reshape it slowly during free time. The overall work was a bit chaotic because I had no ideas where I was going until I decided to do an Egyptian theme, inspired by one of the movies from Dreamworks, The prince of Egypt.

It finally end-up with this image which is a mix of 3D geometry, photos manipulation and digital painting. It was also a great opportunity to do a special collaboration with the 3D illustrator RainFeatherPearl who did an amazing 3D Cleopatra and a few props. Cleopatra Queen of Egypt was done on and off into a period of 7 weeks, including the collaboration and few photoshoot sessions. Different part of this image was done with 3D softwares but mainly in Photoshop CS3.

See the tutorial page for information about how this Matte Painting was done:

Frederic St-Arnaud site:
RainFeatherPearl site:


Even the “sticking” of the Architecture and gardens seems to be a little eccentric and hazardous…:hmm:
Good work, beautiful colors.
Keep it up!


I really like the way this collaborative effort has turned out; it has a pristine freshness about it. A well balanced scene with good symmetry, delicately painted.


Amazing matte, i saw tutorial in Starno web site-great stuff :applause:


Respected Sir, :slight_smile:

This Matte-Painting is the true definition of a “Masterpiece”! :bowdown:I’ve been to the Taj Mahal & I simply love it’s great architecture & the work of art; but now, after looking at this Matte-Painting, if I was given a choice between the two, I’d definitely choose to visit this fantasy place, created by you! :wink: Your Matte-Paintings ROCK! :buttrock:


Dear Kaustav,

Appreciating works of art at the cost of forgetting ones cultural roots and traditions smacks of ignorance on your part however skillfully the artist has rendered it. This post is in no way trying to offend the sensitivity of the artist. The Tajmahal stands as a monument to love and rightly described by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore as “A teardrop on the face of eternity”. The Taj to a billion Indian’s and millions across the world still evokes a feeling of sacredness and sanctity. But you, if given a choice would choose hashed up fantasy over reality which is one among the seven wonders of the world…No hard feelings but this is just my personal opinion…


Thank you all for you comments. I appreciate your time.

Concerning the issue about the Taj Mahal. I did’nt want to offend people by using piece of this monument as a base for my matte painting. This is how I usually work when I created a matte painting, which I always start with real photos that I manipulate and transform them to make something different with it. My intentions was very simple: creating a matte painting with pieces of this great monument.

I’m pretty sure Kaustav knows as well how important is the Taj Mahal to the eyes of all architecture lovers around the globe. Like Kaustav, I went to the Taj Mahal and when you are there, in front of this incredible white marble wonder. You have no choices but to understand how impressive and how fascinating is this piece of art.

Frederic St-Arnaud


By the way, for those who did’nt click on the tutorial link. Here is the original photo of the Taj Mahal I started with. Also this is the 3D geometry I created for the background.

Frederic St-Arnaud


Nice angle. Cool matt painting. Nice use of detail and I like the fabric on the couch. Cleopatra looks nice but somewhat generic. All well, it’s a matt painting, not a portrait. Anyway, great job. Maybe one day I’ll try out some matt painting.


Hi Frederic,

nice job for first! But I have a bit of crit. if you don’t mind :stuck_out_tongue:
I think no question about light and atmosphere-very nice, but I just miss there some details, in foreground on the urns or the “stairs/path” to go to the palace-very sharp edges and too flat bricks(looks like never used).
Also the trees miss the haze for transition to the other objects(if you know what I mean) and it will be good to see some weathering on the palace(is there for some time) + a bit of dirt/dust or so. Even if is a new palace, it will get some.

But, if this kind of style was your goal, please forget the lines I wrote up there :wink:

I just put some crit. coz I really like your works and this one looks a bit unfinished compare to the others you did. And i am working on the show which is very, very similar :stuck_out_tongue:
I am sorry, I wrote so many things, that’s because I expect from the others the same kind of crit. :slight_smile:

Anyway, you doing very good stuff and is pleasure to look at them!
Gerardo :slight_smile:


degerardo: I appreciate the time you spent for this critic. You have good and interesting suggestions for this image. I would admit myself that all my personal work is always unfinished. Why? Because I do it for fun. I don’t want to go crazy with details also because I do the same kind of job each days, 365 days per year. When I’m home, I want to be creative and not too much technical.

That’s why all my personal images are always unfinished. I prefer to create great moody stuff than perfect technical matte paintings in every details. I keep these painful tasks when working for real clients. And as far as I’m concern, I will always keep this philosophy. However, I’m happy when people like you notice what’s wrong and what’s not. It makes the post more interesting when people share interesting thoughts. By the way, keep up your good work. I always like to see new stuff from you.

linainverse23: Thanks for your comments.

Frederic St-Arnaud


Very nice picture! I especially like the atmosphere the and colors of the background. From my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with having a picture of Taj Mahal as a reference. It is practically impossible to recognize it in the final image. Great work!!! I am just curious about 3D software you used. What was it?


wow! That’s a great piece Fred - nice to see some new stuff from you




Hi PC,

Well, truly speaking, I’m neither forgetting the cultural roots, nor the traditions (it’s just your personal opinion)! I had written, “I’ve been to the Taj Mahal & I simply love it’s great architecture & the work of art”; as you can see, I’ve shown my respect and appreciation to the Taj Mahal! :slight_smile: But, I guess, you took the comparison in a wrong way! Being an aspiring Matte-Painter myself, I always get mesmerized and am full of appreciation, whenever I see any beautiful Matte-Painting; since, I liked this Matte-Painting very much, I made that comment!

PS: The bottom-line is, I’ve my deepest respect & full of appreciation to both, the great Taj Mahal & this Artwork! :slight_smile:


wow!this is really great and fantastic!


Thank you all for your comments! I appreciate it.

I used Softimage XSI for the background. And Poser and Vue for the main character which was done by the artist RainFeatherPearl.

Frederic St-Arnaud


Dear Frederic & Kaustav,

Please allow me to respond to both of your posts simultaneously. If you can go through my earlier post carefully, nowhere have i objected to the artwork per-se apart from commenting over kaustav’s choice in choosing as he himself puts it, Quote: “I’ve been to the Taj Mahal & I simply love it’s great architecture & the work of art; but now, after looking at this Matte-Painting, if I was given a choice between the two, I’d definitely choose to visit this fantasy place, created by you!” Unquote.
By your latest posts i have come to know that both of you have visited the Taj and have appreciated the same for its outstanding quality of craftsmanship and enduring architectural value. From what i have seen and understood about the matte painting, it was created with an intention of doing something different, “Not dark and scary but beautiful and hopeful”, if i may take the liberty of quoting frederic. In the same expanse, i quote Al Serov “From my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with having a picture of Taj Mahal as a reference. It is practically impossible to recognize it in the final image.” It would be wrong to say that one cannot recognize the Taj in the final image since any person knowledgeable about it can instantly recognize the facade and the minarets as well as the pathway leading to the structure itself, but instead of the dome of the mausoleum one can see the head of sphinx seated behind doubling up as the dome with the backdrop of egyptian pyramids. To me, this seemed like a clear de-construction of the Tajmahal or rather disfigurement, since as i mentioned earlier it holds a lot of sentimental value to many across the world in general and to Indians in particular.
Now, coming back to my earlier post regarding kaustav, appreciating works of art at the cost of forgetting ones cultural roots and traditions seemed wrong to me since it was plain and clear that what i saw was the artistical disfigurement of the Tajmahal, and as someone who respects it i pointed out the same though not this elaborately, which in my hindsight i feel i should have. As all debates go, i respect both of your opinions on your piece of art if that is the way you guys want to depict and view it. But as far as my view is concerned apart from the technical finesse with which the matte has been executed, i still see this as something dark and scary since the dome of the Tajmahal seems to have been injested by the sphinx, while cleopatra looks beautiful in the foreground and hopeful too, foreseeing the arrival of caeser, Maybe.

PS: This is still my personal opinion.


This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.