25 Stunning Matte Painting Photoshop Tutorials

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What are Photoshop matte paintings?

Traditionally, matte painting was a hyperrealistic art effect used in photography and film. This allowed photographers and filmmakers to create cityscapes, armies, and machines by painting directly onto glass or film.

The same idea has been translated to Photoshop, in which we can build worlds and landscapes using digital photo manipulation. Whether you’re looking to create a fantasy world for a movie or game, or simply trying to learn new techniques, you’ll love digital matte painting.

Like any other type of art, digital matte painting requires practice in order to master the skills. Fortunately, there are some outstanding tutorials that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how specific matte paintings were created.

The Best Matte Painting Tutorials for Photoshop

The Abandoned City Matte Painting Tutorial

This in-depth video shows exactly how talented designer Didier Konings created this amazing abandoned city scene. The video tutorial is nearly 50-minutes long and quite in-depth. You’ll definitely learn a lot, even if you already have some experience.

This detailed tutorial walks through every step of creating this amazing scene. It begins by combing a few stock photos and then using various tools in Photoshop to create a snowy landscape. The tutorial is in text format but several videos are included as well. Overall, this is one of the best tutorials out there if you’re looking to master digital matte painting.

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Making of Renaissance

This tutorials covers the basic steps used to create this stunning apocalyptic scene. The tutorial does not go into extreme details for every little step, so it’s better suited for someone who already has a bit of experience with digital painting in Photoshop.

Making of Renaissance

Learn how to create this epic scene that looks like it could be straight out of a fantasy movie or video game.

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Create an Epic Fantasy Digital Matte Painting

If this image looks a bit familiar, that’s because it starts with a photo of the world-famous Machu Picchu. This is another one that provides an awesome overview of the steps but does not go into extreme detail in Photoshop. You’ll need a little bit of experience to follow along.

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Basic Principles of Digital Matte Painting

This article is an excellent primer or starting point. It’s quick and explains that basic process used. Then, after you’re done with this one, you can work through one of the more detailed tutorials and have a better understanding.

Basic Principles of Digital Matte Painting

Matte Painting 101: Meteor Impacts

Envato’s Tuts+ blog features a series of tutorials called “matte painting 101”. This one is in video format and shows how to alter a photo to create the meteor effect.

Matte Painting 101: Meteor Impacts

Matte Painting 101: Basic Extraction and Composition Techniques

This 20-minute video tutorial continues the 101 series and shows how to create this nice scene with some photo manipulation techniques.

Matte Painting 101: Basic Extraction and Composition Techniques

Matte Painting 101: Basic Destruction Techniques

Our third slection from the 101 series is this video tutorial that shows how to create amazing destruction effects from a photo.

Matte Painting 101: Basic Destruction Techniques

Matte Painting 101: Lighting Fires

The last video that we’ll showcase from Envato’s 101 series shows how to use lighting and fire. It’s nearly 30 minutes long but you’ll be able to use this techinique over-and-over again in your own work.

Matte Painting 101: Lighting Fires

Create a Fantasy Landscape Matte Painting in Adobe Photoshop

If you’re a fan of fantasy, you won’t want to miss this tutorial. You’ll learn how to create matte paintings and composites that look amazing.

Fantasy Landscape Matte Painting

Creating a Devastating Tidal Wave in Photoshop

You will learn to add a tidal wave image and then incorporate it nicely and uniformly in the picture along with other smart objects.

Creating a Devastating Tidal Wave in Photoshop

Create Ruins of a Forgotten Abbey in Photoshop

This text-based tutorial is detailed and lays out the step-by-step process to recreate this image.

Ruins in Photoshop

Matte Painting Tutorial

You will combine and customize each image separately to create a colorful and amazing manipulation.

Matte Painting Tutorial

Create a Scenic Matte Painting in Photoshop

This landscape scene is fairly simple and provides a great starting point for anyone just getting into matte painting.

Scenic Matte Painting

Matte Painting: Making of Barbarossa

This behind-the-scenes look shows how to create an amazing, historic matte painting.

Matte Painting: Making of Barbarossa

Matte Painting Tutorial of Tajmahal Using Photoshop

You can create or customize the Taj Mahal using matte painting effects. It can be a lot of fun to create a fantasy scene from a well-known landmark that everyone recognizes.

Matte Painting Tutorial of Tajmahal Using Photoshop

Making of Urban

A lot of matte paintings are landscape scenes. This one takes a different approach with a grungy urban scene.

Making of Urban

Making of the Futuristic City

Another urban scene, this tutorial shows how the designer created a stunning futuristic city that looks like it could be straight out of a video game.

Making of the Futuristic City

Matte Painting: Cleopatra Queen of Egypt

You will learn to remove people from the image, customize the ground surface, introduce 3D smart objects into the image, and other manipulation and compositing techniques.

Matte Painting: Cleopatra Queen of Egypt

Create a Post-Apocalyptic Matte Painting

This tutorial shows how to transform a photo by introducing a light source through a hole in the roof. It’s a useful technique that could be duplicated with other scenes.

Create a Post-Apocalyptic Matte Painting

Create a Realistic Panoramic Matte Painting in Photoshop

This tutorial uses a single stock photo and the end result is an epic scene with an apocalyptic feel.

Create a Realistic Panoramic Matte Painting in Photoshop

Digital matte painting techniques can be used to create surreal scenes that exceed anything we’ve ever seen with our own eyes. That’s the case with this tutorial. You’ll create an amazing and awe-inspiring fantasy city.

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This apocalytic scene is a perfect example of why digital matte painting is so popular and effective. You can create scenes (in movies, for example) that simply can’t be created in reality.

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Making of Distant Planet

The last tutorial on our list shows you how to create an out-of-this-world scene from another planet.

Distant Planet

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