Categories: Animation Articles

MattePaint Academy with Conrad Allan

Sometimes we watch a film and we see an environment that leaves us wondering whether that background was painted or if they built it in real life. In most cases, those sets would have been digitally done up because building that equivalent in real life, would have cost far more than fronting the bill to pay an artist or studio to do a digital version.

This is why Digital Matte Painting is such a valuable skill to have in your toolbox, or if you’d like, you can specialise in it.

To understand the significance of why this skill is so widely used today, we can take a few steps back to where it comes form and take a look at a few examples of it in well known films.


In the EARLY days of Matte Painting artists would paint on a sheet of glass while the image was aligned to a locked down camera and after that, it just evolved into what we know today. Yes, I did skip a lot of canon because this isn’t a history lesson.

Some of the most well known examples of matte paintings, can be seen here:


Apart from that, I’m not going to keep you with more fluff, I’m just as anxious to read and find out about the MattePaint Academy, from the team who brought you MattePaint. Those of you that know me, know that I am also like to crack my hand on an attempt at a matte painting now and then, but I would like to do more of them.


Also, I get distracted very easily and… SQUIRREL!


Okay, okay… back to topic.

Example of an image completed in the MattePaint Academy

So, The MattePaint Academy is an added bonus in the form of self-driven, online based learning resource for digital artists looking to learn the art of Digital Matte Painting basics, but to emphasise, this is a free bonus you get with a monthly membership to to download images so it’s a perfect companion for a learning artist.

Most of the academy consists of you setting your own goals and projects and you learn from the team who are part of the closed group on Facebook. You will work with awesome artists like Conrad Allan, the Co-Founder of Matte Paint and there are multiple avenues for you to explore in getting started.

Wai Kin Lam

Apart from just being there in the group and siphoning off the other group members, learning new techniques and levelling up your skill level, the academy is also working day and night to enhance their offering to you as a member of Matte Paint Academy.

Some of these include:

  • Paint Overs of existing work, where your working files are assessed and you get feedback based on that file.
  • Mock Interviews with Conrad Allan
  • Digital Matte Painting Challenges
  • Tips and tricks for faster workflows
  • One-on-one sessions with Conrad up to an hour long! (depends on his availability)
  • Livestreams


They also have a Discord server for Matte Paint Academy members. As a Discord user myself, I can not emphasise the value of this setup, though I use Discord for gaming and chatting to party members… anyway, back to topic.

Balazs Petheo

For a little sample of some of the Matte Paint Academy, the guys released this tutorial for us to include in this article:


Caroline Sandgren – Cresent Moon Island

Some of the more nugget sized info pieces can be found in the group, where the guys will post short tutorials or little quick breakdowns for you to see.

There’s also the MattePaint Artwork guides, which are available for download without a subscription (you’ll still need a few credits). The Artwork Guides are written by users of and are designed to help artists from beginner up. When you purchase a guide it includes any images and 3D renders that the artist used, has an article to accompany it and even the original PSD from the artist!

With all this being said, from my personal experience with Conrad and the team, I highly recommend subscribing. Not only because it’s as incredible resource, but because I am also busy implementing changes on my work which the Matte Paint community gave me a tonne of feedback on and my piece is better off for it!

If you can’t afford a subscription, you should at least join their free Facebook Community!

Written by Neal Strydom

Co-Owner of Pixelsmithstudios. Specialising in creating content for digital platforms Working fulltime in marketing & Advertising Always meeting new talent

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