Best matte painting software to use today

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Matte painting has been around since the silent era of cinematography. Thanks to the latest advancement in technology, this unique form of art has made its way into the digital world.
  • And it's good that it has because the end results are more spectacular than ever. Match your creativity to the best matte painting software from our list below and unleash your full matte potential.
  • Check out our Design Software page for more creative solutions to include in your workflows.
  • Stay in touch with the latest releases effortlessly - just bookmark our Graphic & Design Hub.
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Matte painting also referred to as glass painting is traditionally made with paints or pastels on large sheets of glass. The purpose? Film-making, of course.

Representing landscapes, cityscapes, and complex environments, a matte painting integrates into live-action footage allowing film-makers to create the illusion of seamless locations that would otherwise be impossible to render or insanely expensive to achieve.

Although traditional matte paintings are still in use, it is no longer a common practice to photograph and scan paintings into a PC

Thanks to the advancements in graphics design and to emerging new technologies, matte painters have gradually moved their skills and artwork in the digital realm and the effects have never been more astonishing.

Matte painting software allows the artists to truly express their creativity blending digitally matte painted textures with computer-generated 3D models and environments, design visualization effects, animation and digital imagery with over-the-top results.

We thought you might want to see what is available on the market in terms of software for matte painting. Without further ado, here are five of our favourite painting programs that you can rely on.

Brush up your painting skills with the ultimate matte painting software

Adobe After Effects (Recommended)

Adobe After Effects

When it comes to graphics and visual effects software, there aren’t many tools that can match Adobe After Effects’ remarkable capacities.

One original way in which you can use this incredibly versatile tool is for matte paintings. Offering features like color grading, images separation and extensions in 3D space and a camera tracker to emulate realistic motion, you can achieve stunning matte paintings that blend seamlessly with the footage.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Graphics enhancements (new dropdown menu expression controls, templates that are easier to update in Premiere Pro, etc.)
  • Seamless work with Adobe apps
  • Pixel-perfect selections
  • Easily remove objects from videos (up to 25 percent faster with a third of the memory)
  • Stunning effects (for videos and images with explosive effects, VR videos to drop your audience right into the action)

Get Adobe After Effects now

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe-Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the pinnacle when it comes to digital painting thanks to its numerous brushes and special effects not to mention the fact that it gives you complete control over your artwork since you can edit it pixel-by-pixel.

The world’s best imaging and graphic design software boasts an impressive collection of brushes to take your matte painting even further with dazzling effects that go from spray paint or ink wash effect, precise linework shading with pencil, ink, and charcoal brushes, watercolor brushes to splatter effects.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Play with color and effects using custom or Photoshop preset brushes
  • Your work is automatically saved to the cloud for quick access, no matter where you are
  • Lens Blur to offer a more natural and realistic look when blurring an object in the foreground
  • Improved Content-Aware Fill
  • Object Selection tool (create fast and precise selections by drawing a simple rectangle)
  • Enhanced Transform Warp

Get Adobe Photoshop now

Adobe Illustrator

adobe-illustrator

When it comes to the state of the art of painting, Adobe Illustrator is the best software that money can buy. Matte painting is as easy as breeze thanks to the Illustrator’s user-friendly brush widely appreciated for its accurate results.

Faster rendering of Drop Shadows, Gaussian Blurs, and Feather Effects in preview mode and freeform gradients help you create rich color blends that give your matte artwork that breath-taking effect you were seeking.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Sketch-based development (you can either draw by hand in Illustrator or import art from Adobe Photoshop)
  • Image Trace (transform your imported sketch into an easily edited vector graphic to refine your work)
  • Real-time drawing and editing
  • Enhanced free distort (modify shapes freely through a bounding box)
  • Improved effects (Drop Shadows, Gaussian Blurs, and Feather effects in preview mode)
  • Freeform gradients (create rich color blends that give your objects and artwork a more natural look and feel.

Get Adobe Illustrator now

Corel PHOTO-PAINT 2020

Corel Draw

Part of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Corel PHOTO-PAINT is the natural choice for matte painting. Draw, color and fill using patterns, textures, color palettes, and color mixers or apply brushstrokes that replicate watercolors, felt markers, and more.

Powerful retouching and restoration tools allow you to paint, draw, apply special effects with adjustment filters for greater control, sharpen, blend and blur as well as correct color and tone.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • AI-powered image improvements (AI-powered upsampling and artifact removal features)
  • AI-based effects (experiment with new Art Style effects that leverage artificial intelligence)
  • Effect lens (apply any bitmap effect as a lens to change the appearance of objects beneath it)
  • User-inspired feature improvements (the new Smart Selection tool bring faster, smoother brushes)

Get CorelDRAW now

Graphic Design Studio by Summitsoft

SummitSoft Graphic Design Studio

Graphic Design Studio offers an impressive graphic editor perfectly adapted to matte painting. You can draw or design your very own creations with easy to use pen and pencil tools or add special effects that can take any matte artwork from average to one-of-a-kind.

You can also upload your drawings into the program for further editing and export your work to any platform once you’re done.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Advanced editing tools (to create eye-catching graphics, retouched to the finest detail)
  • Export your graphics to any program, print or website
  • Enhanced pen and pencil tools (to draw custom shapes and designs)
  • Unique vector manipulation

Get Summitsoft now

Matte painting is a widely known VFX technique. Like many forms of traditional art, it has found a way into the digital world and thanks to dedicated matte painting software it generates even more spectacular results, faster and easier.

Why shouldn’t your artwork benefit from the perks of digitalization? Have you already tried one of the tools from our list? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


FAQ: Learn more about matte painting

  • What is matte painting Photoshop?

Matte painting is a hyperrealistic art effect used in film-making to display complex landscapes as background. Thanks to numerous custom or preset brushes and special effects, Adobe Photoshop matte paintings have become a reference point in the industry.

  • How does matte painting work?

Matte paintings are often executed on glass panes and combined with live footage in post-production in order to create painted representations of landscapes that are to serve as backgrounds for movie scenes.

  • What is matte painting in VFX?

Matte paintings are one of the original VFX techniques used in cinematography that first emerged in the early period of the silent era. Through digital advancement, this painting technique evolved from painted glass panels to entire 3D digital worlds.

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