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  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-a A
  • Keywords: 3D


Class Format:
Length: 8 Weeks
Lectures: Pre-Recorded each week
Assignment: Deadlines each week
Feedback: Individually recorded
Q&A: Once a week
*For classes with less than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.


The focus of this class is to take the matte painting skills you have, and apply them to the real world scenarios you might encounter working at a studio. The goal is that by the end of the class each of you will have completed several matte paintings that demonstrate a solid technical understanding of what modern matte painting entails.

Students will have the opportunity to set up and paint a variety of shots, from 2D to more complex 3D shots as well as learn the tricks to bring those paintings to life. Just as every studio has a different workflow, students will also gain a basic knowledge of working with different color pipelines, cameras and plates and learn how to adapt while creating their shots.

This class is geared for intermediate to advanced Photoshop users with some Nuke compositing and 3D modeling skills in Maya, or industry professionals who want to enhance their toolset.

Students should feel comfortable with basic modeling in a 3D environment as well as basic Nuke compositing.

Classroom Access Policy

CGMA policy states that all students will have access to classroom content for the duration of the class plus 4 weeks to review content. After this time is up classroom content will no longer be available.

For those classes with live Q&As, Q&A recordings as well as feedback recordings will be available for up to 6 months after the class is complete.

Certificate of Completion Policy

CGMA policy allows students to miss up to 2 assignments per class before they become ineligible to receive their Certificate of Completion.


Week 1 - Revisiting the Basics & the Static Matte Shot

Video: technical setup, pitfalls and roadblocks

What resolution do I need to work at and why?
Dealing with motion blur in plates
Plate/photo grain averaging / film grain & noise
Reference grain
Flattened plates vs unflattened plates


Video: Reference: The key to good matte painting

Matching perspective
Matching lighting
Color matching
Bit depth and file formats
Permissions & copyrights
Building your own personal library


Video: My approach to finding perspective in photoshop


Video: PSD Organization and teamwork

File naming
Layer names, folders and organization
Overlays, curves, & blending modes
Using RGB to paint mattes for comp
Working with someone else’s file


Video: The 2D matte shot from Photoshop to comp

Setting up a static matte painting shot in photoshop and nuke
Establishing scale
Compositing your matte painting: adding life to a static shot


Assignment: static aerial matte painting

Week 2 - Color Pipelines and Color Range

Video: Color pipelines and working with various formats

Maintaining color range in your paintings
Video space, log space and linear space color workflow
Working with high dynamic range images
Night shots and clipping your blacks, highlights and clipping brights
Icc profiles, show luts, etc
Using your High dynamic range matte painting to help light a 3d scene
The difference between clipping in photoshop and clipping in comp


Video: Roll with the punches

plates changing
cameras changing
notes changing


Assignment: High Dynamic Range sky replacement

Assignment: Continue to work on static matte painting

Week 3 - The “Nodal” Pan Shot

Video: Setting up the nodal shot

What is a nodal camera?
How to tell if your camera is truely nodal or "nodal enough"


Video: Setting up projections for simple camera moves

studying your footage for the best frames to project on
simplifying your projection setup and why
Pros and cons of multiple paintings/projections in a single shot
Tips for camera coverage (how to tell if your projection covers the camera move)
The importance of file and camera name organization
Oversizing your projection/canvas for safe coverage
Ignoring areas of your canvas not seen in the shot
Focusing on areas of importance


Assignment: Nodal Day for Night Matte Painting in log space

Assignment: Continue to work on sky replacement & static matte painting notes

Week 4 - The 2.5D Shot

Video: What is a “2.5D” matte painting?

How to keep your shot from looking “cardy”


Video: Setting up a z-traveling or zoomed in shot

Video: Concept for matte painting

Assignment: Concept for the fully matte painted shot:

Assignment: 2.5 D alien planet painting

Week 5 - The Fully Matte Painted Shot

Video: The fully matte painted shot

Letting geometry do all the heavy lifting
When to matte paint, when to lookDev in 3d
Simplifying geometry for fewer projection complications
Using geometry to find horizons, perspective, and scale
Different approaches to matte painting with 3d geometry
Lining up your geometry edges


Assignment: First pass of the fully matte painted 3d shot

Assignments: Continue to address notes for all other shots

Week 6 - Matte Painting for Stereoscopic Films

Video: When will matte painting in stereo work?

Video: Working on stereoscopic shots

Getting camera coverage for both eyes
Which eye do you project from?
Geometry must reflect real world scale and spatial relationships
Building geo for lots of foreground parallax
The static stereo shot
When can you simplify your geo in a stereo shot?


Assignment: Continue to polish all matte paintings

Week 7 - Projection setups for more complex camera moves

Video: Setting up a Large traveling shots (both in X and in Z)

Video: Array camera shots for pano shots

Video: Advanced approaches to sequence level work

Setting up paintings for multiple shots


Video: the 360 shot

Assignments: Finish up all matte painting shots by next week

Week 8 - Wrapping things up

Video: Tips for staying employed:

Personality matters.. finding a job and staying employed
The artist vs the craftsman
Listening to your notes vs. defending your creative choices
The importance of being efficient as a Matte Painter
Let the small things go, but follow up on your shot


Video: Play to your strengths

Video: Self Marketing:

Notes for portfolios, websites and demo reels
Detailed breakdowns of your shots


Due this week: Final revisions to all your matte paintings



  • Intermediate - advanced knowledge of photoshop
  • You should feel comfortable with basic modeling in a 3D environment as well as basic nuke compositing.


  • Photoshop
  • Nuke 
  • Maya 




Intro to Digital Matte Painting
with David Luong

This workshop is useful for beginners in digital mattepainting as much as for the ones who already have proficiency in it.
workshop-level-i I
8 Weeks 8 WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Jul. 22) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)