Elven lands - matte painting


Hello, so this is my first attempt to a matte painting. The inspiration clearly came from the LOTR and the Hobbit movies as I have watched them all over again and felt like I had to try that. I’ve used some of my own photos from Norway and a few stock images from CGTextures. I’ve spent quite a long time as I was learning the process on-the-go and although the overall feeling is quite nice to me and the fantasy mood is there, the image still looks slightly flat. Any critiques would be appreciated, since I’m a self-taught hobbyist. Thanks!


Hey Janvavrusa!

This looks absolutely amazing! especially if it’s your first attempt. I’m only just starting to learn about Matte painting through a course, so there isn’t a whole lot of advice I can give.

I guess from my beginners point of view, I think the foreground mountains look flat, almost like it’s on a card. Unfortunately I don’t know enough on how you might be able to fix this or even exactly why it looks 2D to me. Maybe the lighting is too even from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the mountain (like on the left most mountain), so it looks like it has the same light flat across the whole thing. Does that makes sense?

Sorry I can’t offer much more advice than this. Either way, it looks really awesome, and I’m jealous that you’ve made that on your first attempt :slight_smile:

Well done!


Technically speaking, you should not be putting any kind of lens flare effects into a matte painting, or anything that’s supposed to be moving, such as moving water. Matte paintings are meant to be used as virtual backdrops, and they should not contain anything that is meant to be moving, because they’ll appear to be “frozen” in the actual final result (birds frozen in the sky, moving water frozen in place, falling leaves frozen in mid-air, etc). As for lens flares, they are mechanical in nature, caused by the way lenses are designed, and that shouldn’t be part of your matte painting (especially if the shot is meant to have camera movement–your lens flare will be frozen into the background–again, very strange). The images you see on matte artist’s websites that contain moving elements, are usually screengrabs from the actual movie, when those moving elements have been composited into the shot. The original mattes themselves would not contain any moving elements.

I agree with Timothy that your image appears a bit flat. The turning of forms in your individual small shapes such as the trees aren’t prominent enough.

Your form/cast shadows should match the color cast of the sky dome more, since they receive the bounced ambient light mainly from the sky. Also, I think the shadows are a bit too dark, as if they aren’t getting any ambient light from the sky at all.


Thanks guys for the critiques, much appreciated!

I understand the purpose of matte painting, but since this is a personal artwork without further application, I assume it’s OK to add elements that will make the image look like the final shot. But I see your point and I didn’t really think about it before. Thank you.


I’m not a pro either (I’ve just started using the forum), but I do agree with Lunatique. The shadows fall flat.

Another thing that I noticed was how the shadow seems to be traveling along the hill towards left. That kind of sharp shadow along terrain is usually seen at dawn, that too horizontal, not when the sun is high up already. I may be wrong, though. Just my POV.

Hope it helps.

Best of luck :thumbsup:


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