Matte Painting:

Matte painting has a long history,in olden days when the movie needed a large set,they would usually hire artists to create a huge back-drop(background for the scene).The actors will be acting before a large canvas that would have a pictutre of a large city or a market place,etc.,The same technique is still followed but with the help of computers.

Matte painting is extensively used in fantasy and sci-fi movies,where an artist is required to prepare an digital painting of realistic looking environment that the artdirector needs,for example for the Star wars movie,the artists need to prepare digital paintings of futuristic building,space ships,aliens,etc.,

The artists make use of photographs taken of the real buildings,cars,etc and then modify them in any digital painting software to make them look like a futuristic building.Or incase of landscapes like the ones in lord of the ring movies,the artist is required to create stunning fantasy landscapes,that doen's exist in the world,using real photographs taken of a landscape!(following image would explain this clearly,you can see the bottom image,which is matte painted,over the to image.


This is a matte painting from the movie 300


This is a matte painting from the movie King kong


Another example for matte painting


Concept art:

Concept art is a kind of study/creation of characters or landscape or objects That do not extist at all,they serve as references for lighting,modeling and texturing artists.For any game or sci-fi film it is required that all characters and the environment represent a certain theme,For example in the game Prince of persia,extevsive concept arts are made,illustrating how the environment should be,how the characters should look like.unlike matte painting where the artists use a photograph,modify things to create a new digital BG,in concept art,artists prodce illustrations from scratch.Here are some examples of Concept art:

This is a concept art of the prince character in prince of persia game


This is a concept art from the game Tomb raider


The following are concept arts of prince of persia game




Many softwares are used to create matte painting and concept art, two of the prominent softwares used by artists areCorel painter and adobe photoshop.

  • Corel painter enables the artist to create realistic looking painting,it offers a wide range of tools ranging from art brushes like oil brush,water color,acrylic,etc., to tools like air brush,chalk,crayon,etc.,The main advantage is corel painter can simulate real bristles i.e. when you make a line with a brush it looks like you've made it with a real brush(you can see variation of color,you can see jagged edges,etc)


  • Photoshop also offers a lot of tools but they do not produce real bristle painting.But it allows intensive editing of image.


  • Another prominent software that allows artists to experience a sense of real painting and drwaing is the software called artrage,using which you can create stunning paintings.The software is good but not good enough yet to compete with photoshop or corel painter.


Most digital artists make use of graphic tablets,these are human interface devices which replace the mouse,to enable the user to use a pen,to make the cursor move.The advantage of using a graphic table it thet it allows you to make natural artistic strokes.

images of some of wacom tablets:




It offers a lot of great features like pressure sensing-the graphic tablet measures you pen pressure and varies the width of the stroke as you draw,and there are lots of other features that are artist friendly.One of the big companies producing graphic tablets is Wacom,it offers a huge range of products,check out it's website to know more.

Happy Digital Painting!!!!

Visit the following links to know more about graphics and visual animation in movies:

These links should get you started in mattepainting and concept art:

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