Matte Painting Course for TV & Film

Learn matte painting techniques used by major film and TV studios around the world!

From sprawling fantasy landscapes, floating alien mountains and period piece set extensions, matte painters help create the immersive environments that seamlessly integrate into the stories we love. With more films and TV shows being produced than ever before, the demand for professionally trained artists is on the rise.

CG Spectrum’s Introduction to Matte Painting course is designed to help artists enhance their digital skill set and pursue an exciting film and TV career.

Digital Matte Painting Course Overview

In 12 weeks, you’ll learn matte paintings techniques used by professional TV and film artists.

Throughout the course, you will: learn how to properly set up your shots; understand the differences between a flattened and unflattened plate; discover sophisticated methods for extracting and masking; find out what makes high-quality reference material; transform your shots from day to night using proper color correcting techniques; and learn how to professionally prepare your file for export out of Photoshop and into Nuke. Graduate with several amazing portfolio pieces!

The matte painting course can be taken in a small group or as a one-on-one mentorship. Whichever you choose, your mentor will take a personal interest in your future success and guarantee an educational experience like no other.

Start Date

September 7th, 2020


3 Months

Delivery Method

Weekly online classes via Zoom along with recorded feedback, e-mail support and a student community


A student educational license of Photoshop and Nuke is provided to all students for free

Course Load


Skill Level

Intermediate to Advanced


Course Curriculum


Basic Matte Painting Techniques

Basic Matte Painting Techniques

Start your matte painting course by learning how to set up a clean plate for your shot, avoiding common technical issues that arise in the matte painting pipeline. Discover what makes good reference imagery and master seamlessly integrating small details and textures into your work. Learn to export out of Photoshop and into compositing package Nuke. Your work should be more than a static environment shot; it should be a living, breathing shot that looks alive. Explore ways to bring your work to life by animating the sky, adding lighting effects, and incorporating extra footage.

Learn how to:

  • Properly set up a matte painting shot
  • Use flattened vs unflattened plates
  • Source high-quality reference material
  • Transform shots from day to night

Weekly Breakdown

  1. Technical Setup
  2. Masking & Background Replacement
  3. Day to Night
  4. Texture & Details
  5. Bringing Shots to Life
  6. Finding Perspective

*Curriculum subject to change based on industry input


Advanced Matte Painting Techniques

Advanced Matte Painting Techniques

Mimicking a client-vendor relationship, you’ll learn how to deal with the challenges of delivering a professional shot. Discover what makes a shot unique and how to establish the proper perspective for a shot using your new skills. Using advanced techniques in Nuke you will learn how to lay out perspective lines, properly track your shot and create camera projections in order to create a shot with camera movement similar to those created for in film and TV shows. Discover how to add proxy geometry and extract perspective data in order to paint assets into your moving shot.

Learn how to:

  • Analyze a plate for matte painting
  • Create an accurate projection camera
  • Composite your matte painting seamlessly
  • Merge your matte painting and plate

Weekly Breakdown

  1. Working with Challenging Perspective
  2. 2D Painting in Film Footage
  3. Nodal Camera Pan
  4. Aerial Projection Patch
  5. From Plate to Painting: Setup
  6. From Plate to Painting: Finalizing

*Curriculum subject to change based on industry input



Meet Your Mentors

Heather Abels

Heather Abels

A senior matte painter with over 12 years of feature film experience, Heather has worked at top studios such as Disney Animation, Matte World Digital, and Rhythm & Hues. Her work can be seen in films including Big Hero 6, Life of Pi, Avatar and Golden Compass. She’s held titles as a Set Extension Artist, Senior Matte Painter, Lead, and Supervisor. With a passion for educating the next generation of artists, she has taught at universities, developed training material for studios and created online courses.

Known For

Heather Abels

Ryan Prestridge

Ryan Prestridge

Ryan started his career at Rhythm and Hues as a Lead Matte Painting TD, then to MPC as a Senior Environment TD, then moved to Lead 3D Digital Matte Painter role. He later worked as a Technical Matte Painter at ReelFX Animation. Currently, he is a Matte Painting Compositor at DreamWorks Animation. During his career, Ryan has had the opportunity to work on films such as Django Unchained, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Boss Baby and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Known For

Ryan Prestridge

Alumni Testimonials

Studios Who Hire Our Alumni


The CG Spectrum Advantage

Flexible Scheduling

Whether studying full-time or working around a busy schedule, CG Spectrum’s virtual learning model allows you to study when you want, where you want.

Industry Mentors

Learn from highly experienced and passionate mentors who are actively working in the industry on major feature films and AAA video games.

Job Ready Skills

Our specialized, custom-built digital art courses and hands-on teaching method ensure the skills you gain are exactly those that studios are looking for.

Payment Plans

Your education is an investment. We offer various payment options to help you pursue your passion, hone your craft, and start working sooner.

Ready to Start Something Great?

Tuition & Study Options

1-On-1 Private Option

Progress faster as an artist with 1-on-1 mentorship! Private tuition offers a higher level of individual attention and more flexibility to schedule classes around work and family commitments. Your mentor can also customize the matte painting course based on your strengths and interests. This option is perfect for those looking to change careers to get into the industry, or established artists looking to upgrade skills or change specialties.


$850 USD

3 x payments



$2290 USD

1 x payments

(Save 10%)

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