Filmmaking Basics/Matte Painting/Build Starters

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This school is:
Wikiversity Film School - Narrative film production
Crystal Clear app package graphics.png
This course is:
The basics of narrative filmmaking
This lesson is:
Lesson: Creating a matte painting
Pages of this Lesson:
Introduction to Matte Painting

Assignment #1 - using Art Rage Free or Adobe Photoshop or the free GIMP or Corel Painter:

1A - Matte Painting for "Seduced by the Dark Side!"
1B - Building your own starter pages (optional)

Assignment #2 - using Tux Paint:

2A - Matte Painting for "Out For A Walk"
2B - Starter page sets for Tux Paint
2C - Building your own starter page set for Tux Paint (optional)

Matte Canvas

How to create simple starter pages for matte paintings

This is for people who want to make their own custom starter pages.

An orginal movie frame

Still frame from a locked camera
Initially, we need a matte painting for the storyboards. Therefore, start with a frame from your storyboards.
Later, when you want to use a matte painting for a scene, you start by grabbing a test frame. The movie camera is locked down therefore the position of the physical movie set will never change in the frame by even a single pixel.
From the test frame, it is very easy to decide what part of the physical movie set you want the audience to see and what part you want to hide behind the matte painting.
Therefore, it will be very easy to build a mask which protects the good part of the physical movie set so your matte painting will never cover this up.
Creating the mask is the critical part of preparing a starter page for Tux Paint.

A frame from your storyboards

Matte painting for tunderboy9.png


Film school - Matte painting beginning frame.jpg

A still frame from your storyboards.

A picture on a piece of paper

Setting up a matte painting canvas
The concept is very simple. You take one frame from the movie or storyboard and put it on a large canvas. That's it.
The size of the canvas
The size of the canvas can be anything you want. Since the movie will be in the wide screen format (16 by 9), probably the best thing is a canvas that has a 16 by 9 aspect ratio.
Zoom factor
The size should be determined by how much of a zoom effect you want. If you want a zoom out effect of 2 to 1, then you should create the matte painting which is 2 times 480 pixels tall by 854 pixels wide. (Always work in square pixels.)
Dolly factor
If you also want a slight dolly effect (dolly left or dolly right), you will also need to extend the widths of your matte painting as well.


Select a paint or drawing program
Matte paintings can be done in Photoshop, GIMP, Painter.
Import and begin
Simply import your picture and begin to paint (begin careful not to change any of the original picture where the actors are.)

Place the picture

Matte Painting GIMP complete.png

The movie frame is on a blank page.

More details

Use the frame from your storyboards

Start with your storyboards
For this assignment, start with a frame from your storyboards.
Later, when we do 3D animation, you will start with a frame from your animation.
When we do the live action version, we will use a frame from the actual movie.
FrameForge 3D Studio
If you are using FrameForge 3D Studio, here is what you do:

Matte Painting Export FF3D.pngMatte Painting Export FF3D select.pngMatte Painting Export FF3D height.png
The three steps
To export a frame, you need to select EXPORT and then click on the picture of the frame you want. Then specify the height which is 480 pixels.

Create the matte painting canvas

Using GIMP
With the paint program GIMP, you can do this:

Matte Painting GIMP new 2660.pngMatte painting for tunderboy9.pngMatte Painting GIMP complete.pngMatte Painting GIMP save.png
The three steps
Decide on the frame size, open the frame in the same program, drag the frame to your new canvas, save the picture as a png (which might require an EXPORT.)

Draw your matte painting

Protect the frame
Draw your matte painting and send me a copy.

Send your picture to me

Simple matte painting plain alt.png

A matte painting.

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Send me your finished matte painting

When you are finished with your matte painting, please email a copy to me.

Contact Your Instructor