VFX: Matte Paintings

In many scenes from films, video games or TV shows a lot of the scene is fake, and masked buildings from the internet. Such as:

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Most of the Moon of Endor was made from pictures of large Candia oak trees, and bridges from things such as canyons.

Image result for star wars matte painting

Lord of the Rings

The Elven Cities, as well as Mordor itself were all Matte paintings using stone arches from Italian cities.

via Dylan Cole

My Attempt at a Matte Painting

I decided I was going to make a underwater city, that had once been used but now it is wrecked at the bottom of the sea. So I started with a picture of the sea bed.


Things I had to take into account is that the water still looks quite shallow, which means I should make the buildings quite far away to look realistic, also to put the buildings around the light, to make it look good. I started with getting a bunch of images of wrecked building models.Ruined Buildings.jpg

Next I started placing the buildings into the scene. I have removed their background with Photoshop if necessary, and then scaled them into the scene. I did 3 different things to make it look good.


Using color correction I made the images more blue / green, to make then look A. more themed underwater, and B. Mossy and worn.

Color Correction

Gaussian Blur

Things underwater would be defocused if very far away, so I put a blur on the buildings to give the matte painting a sense of distance and 3D Aspect.


I masked the light rays from the sea to the front, so that the buildings would still refract the light.


The Final Product

At the end of the lesson I had a good product, which still needs to be finished but looks great! I figured its all about the scale at the end to make it look realistic, and I still have some buildings to place.




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