I came across a job add that really interested me, but could never figure out how to name it along matte painting tutorials.

They wanted a 2D artist that works in Photoshop (and this job is done in PS), who "paints" 2D over 3D model (it was a scene - matte painting).

Could anyone clarify this for me? What is it called, exactly? I would like to learn the process, so any suggestions would be welcome.

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    I think it means literally what it says. You'd paint over a still of a 3D model.
    – DA01
    Mar 8, 2015 at 23:29
  • @ZachSaucier The question is what you responded to..
    – paddotk
    Mar 10, 2015 at 20:55

2 Answers 2


It means what it says. You paint over something. In matte painting this often means grabbing a photo that is close to what you want for your background, then you paint over it to make it more awesome, like adding fog or lens flare or trees or whatever you want.

In the world of 3D modelling, paintovers are part of pre-production usually, where if you cant draw very well but you're good at modelling, you make the basic 3D model, then fill out the details quickly by painting over-top.

You may paint over something quickly in 2D because the 3D process is much more time consuming. orrrr you may paint over the final result of your 3D render because rendering such a thing as an afterthought would be wayyyyy too time-consuming.


Films need breathtaking backrounds, these are then glued on to the film by separating the foreground from background. Alpha masking the bacgroud out of the picture is called a digital matte in video language.

Matte painting started out by physically painting backgrounds onto canvases. Today they are often built from pictures and photomanipulation to better fit the real background elements. They are also often projected on 3D geometry so that the backgrounds can have paralax for moving shots.

This kind of approach provides good bang for the buck. Its also easier to direct by the art director than full 3D shots.

Theres nothing really magick about this. You can just project a few different pictures over the 3D geometry. Painting can be done in any paint capable application like photoshop. Tough do dedicated 3D painters like Mari could do the trick also. For the final render any 2.5D comp app suffices. As do any 3D app out there.

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