Intro to Matte Painting

AFTRS-Australian Film Television and Radio School

About the Course

?This two-day workshop will teach you the art of and techniques used in digital matte painting. It is designed for students who have little knowledge of digital matte painting techniques, but who possess creative skills and basic understanding of the Photoshop interface.


A digital matte painting is a painted representation of an environment used in film and television productions. Matte paintings transport us to these environments and play a key role in establishing locations. The matte painting process can range from the creation of a simple set extension to a breathtaking environment, which can be integrated with animated or live action.

The beauty of digital matte painting is that there are few limits to what can be visualised, and they are a cost effective method of creating environments for film/TV productions. This workshop will comprise lectures, demonstrations and exercises, where students will produce their own matte painting with the aid of teacher supplied material.

Students will be guided and supported through each step of the matte painting process. Handouts, exercise material and recommended reading will be provided.

You will learn about:

  • A brief history of Matte Painting
  • Overview of current industry standard matte painting techniques
  • Traditional techniques essential to the matte painter, including; Composition and Perspective, Light & form, Colour theory and values, Creating a concept sketch, Digital Techniques for the Matte Painter (Adobe Photoshop/After Effects)
  • The Photoshop Workspace and Tools: Working in Layers efficiently, Resolution and bit depth, Using and creating custom brushes
  • Digital painting: Making colour and tonal adjustments
  • Photo Montage basics
  • Masks and Lighting techniques
  • Setting up your matte painting in After Effects
  • Rendering you final matte painting in After Effects

In the course you will use Traditional drawing with pencil and paper as well as Wacom Intuos Graphic Drawing Tablet, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects Software.

Here's some pre-course inspiration: the 50 greatest matte paintings of all time, according to Shadowlocked:

On completion of the course you'll be equipped with an understanding of industry standard skills and techniques required to pursue a career in this field.


Nicole Mather is a senior digital matte painter and artist with over fifteen years experience creating environments and artwork for film and television productions. 
She has worked on a broad range of award winning productions and credits include: Avatar (Weta Digital). CroodsPeabody and Sherman and Madagascar 3 (DreamWorks Animation), Happy FeetThe Guardians of GahooleThe Matrix ReloadedAustralia, & Moulin Rouge (Animal Logic).


• Creative aptitude/ability
• Basic to intermediate Photoshop skills

STUDENT FEEDBACK 'I thoroughly enjoyed the course. I found it challenging, insightful and stimulating. Nicole was an excellent tutor, and I was impressed by the facilities at AFTRS.'

'Excellent -- covered a lot of ground. I was incredibly satisfied with this course.'

'A wonderful course.'


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