Saturday, May 18, 2013

50 Greatest Matte Paintings

Here is a nice article on the '50 Greatest Matte Paintings of All Time'.

Yup, that background in the picture above is a painting. And not a digital painting either. In fact, you'd be surprised at just how many of your favorite movies used matte paintings for critical scenes and you probably didn't even notice!

The rooftops in Blade Runner, the government warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the docking bays in Star Wars... the list goes on.

Personally, I feel like this 'Top 50' list has some glaring omissions, but it is a wonderful article nonetheless! Inspiring, informative, and very well researched.

If you'd like to learn more about the subject, I highly recommend the book 'The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting'. It is quite possible the best, and most beautiful, book you'll find on the subject.


  1. For further reference there's also the blog Matte Shot. The posts are so long it takes me about an hour to get through one, though! What I didn't realize before reading some of them is how many tricks there were for special FX and faking images before computers ever came onto the scene.

  2. Great link. Really great to see so many matte shots revealed. Thanks

  3. You're right, Josuha. This page, run by my friend Peter Cook from NZ, is much more profound than this more or less randomly chosen Top 50. Take for instance Mr. Albert Whitlock, one of my absolute favourites when it comes to traditional matte painting: he produced paintings for over a hundred movies. Incredible stuff.

  4. Hi Thomas and others,

    When I put together that '50 Best Mattes' I consciously tried to avoid too many 'pop culture' shots that are too well known and wanted to be as broad as I could with many genres, film era's and other criteria. As Thomas says, Albert Whitlock was THE greatest artist in the field and I could have so easily just compiled fifty great Whitlock shots without raising a sweat.

    The Shadowlocked guys initially asked for just '10 Best mattes'......IMPOSSIBLE .... so I upped it to 25 and then 50. They want me to furnish a further 50 as that article is one of their most popular ever, or so they tell me.

    Anyone here interested in learning more may like to look at my blog Matte Shot, as linked above by Joshua.