Matte painting with After Effects

Today I learned about matte painting and bringing things into After Effects to alter an image. I first made some mood boards to get some ideas together for my basis. I made a moodboard for ruined buildings taken over by greenery and nature admittedly mostly based on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), and I made another one based on a ruined Tokyo landscape.

I then went into After Effects to make something. First I got a baronland landscape, then brought in a picture of some streets in Tokyo. Using the pen tool, I cut out what I wanted, added a feather mask, and did some colour correction on the picture to make it fit into the scene better. I then added a  Gaussian blur to it, to blur the lights and make it look distant. I also brought in a picture of some corrosion, upped the transparency, and made a mask around it and put that picture over the streets, to make them look like there is a dust cloud around them. I then added in the birds using the ‘Multiply’ effect on the bird layer itself to remove the white background. And I then used the same feather mask tool to add in the rock that is in the foreground. The last thing I did was add colour correction curves to the desert layer and the rock to bring out the reds a little bit and pull back the blues a little bit.


I think this worked out really well for my first time matte painting. Admittedly I got a lot of help making this, because at the start I didn’t have a clue what to do. I really like how it turned out, I think it looks really cool and I like that it looks somewhat realistic. I think my only nitpick is that I didn’t mask the rock so well because there is a small rock, but it’s a super minor detail so I’m not beating myself up over it. I think if I could improve, I would just add more things into it, maybe add more streets into the city, or more rocks around in the sand.


Posted in: VFX

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