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Igor Staritsin and Marcos Shih have worked as Matte Painters for over a decade, and they both agree on one thing: you can thrive in whatever industry you prefer. But first, you need to be a really good artist.

Once you’ve mastered the foundational art skills of matte painting, you will be able to handle jobs in film, TV, animation, commercials, and games. Whereas other disciplines like animation and sculpting can vary widely between different positions, it’s easier for Matte Painters to adjust to new software and workflows. “What’s more important is to develop your critical eye and your understanding of what makes for a good image,” Igor said.

Because it’s easier for matte painters to take advantage of various industries and positions, it’s important that you’re aware of the options that are available to you. Here are five career opportunities for matte painters:

  1. Film
  2. TV
  3. Commercials
  4. Animation
  5. Games
Igor Staritsin. Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

1. Film

As a matte painter in film, you have your work cut out for you. The quality of digitally painted and CG-imposed backgrounds has improved so much in recent years that audiences expect the highest levels of realism. Scroll below to see the impact a Matte Painter has on a shot!

Before matte painting.
After matte painting.

In film, you get to be slightly more independent than in other fields. You can work on a single shot on your own time, and weekly (ish) meetings with the CG Supervisor will ensure the shot is up to par and you’re on schedule.

Your work usually begins after the camera angles and lighting decisions have been made, so it’s important to create a background that works from all of those angles. This means in addition to the wide shot of the full scene, your micro compositions need to be just as good!

Igor Staristin. Malificent.

Read “The Power of Art Fundamentals” to see what foundational skills you need to succeed as a matte painter.

2. TV

Television didn’t use to have a demanding need for top VFX and CG artists, but shows like Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier prove that is no longer the case.

People want movie-quality effects on their home television screens.

Think about it, The Crown didn’t even have explosions and its first season cost $13 million.

That’s what it takes to digitally replicate Buckingham Palace!

TV matte painters have very similar workflows to film matte painters but sometimes work on tighter deadlines due to the episodic nature.

3. Commercials

Now that people are used to seeing quality VFX in film and TV, they want it everywhere.

Creative teams for brands have the resources to take advantage of great artists like you, which creates an unexpected opportunity for matte painters in commercials!

Look what it took to create the “Heineken Trailblazers” commercial.

Commercials usually demand quicker turnarounds. Though the workflow and skillset are the same as film and TV, commercials have to sell a product or brand, not just a story. It’s not every aspiring artist’s dream to create commercials, but it can actually be an amazing opportunity for well-funded creative projects! Check out Marcos’s matte painting work for the Mitsubishi Highlander ad.

Check out CGMA’s Storyboarding for Live Action & Commercials course to see how this fast-paced pipeline works.

4. Animated Film/TV

Matte painting for animation requires you to be able to fit various stylized approaches with the same skill and diligence a photorealistic background would. You need to be incredibly aware of the movement and camera angles in each scene. This often means more communication with other teams on an animation process.

Marcos Shih. Angry Birds.

5. Games

Games is the biggest jump from film and TV. Instead of a CG Supervisor, you’ll have an art director or a ‘Lead.’ Plus, you need to juggle more plates in this industry. In addition to painting, you might have to add animation to your scenes.

Marcos Shih. Apex Games.

You also need to create a background that can blend into the playable spaces. Unlike a film, where you have control over the camera angles, players have control over the angles they see. For this reason, you’ll work more with Sky boxes than with individual shots.

Skilled Matte Painters have a lot of flexibility in the industry, project, and position they end up in. Just check out Marcos and Igor’s demo reels below to see all of the exciting opportunities!

Enroll in Matte Painting and Concept Art for Production taught by Igor Staritsin to learn from the best!

LEARN MORE

CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for Art, Games, and VFX industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.

RELATED LINKS

Read “The Power of Art Fundamentals” to see what foundational skills you need to succeed as a matte painter.

Check out CGMA’s Storyboarding for Live Action & Commercials course to see how this fast-paced pipeline works.

Enroll in Matte Painting and Concept Art for Production taught by Igor Staritsin to learn from the best!

Sources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh23cQ9rUno&t=29s

https://screencrush.com/most-expensive-tv-series/