Mind-Blowing Matte Paintings From Classic Movies

Before 3D modeling came along, filmmakers had to rely on simpler means to give the illusion of a lavish set: paint. To create a dystopic city or elegant hall without spending the entire budget on a physical set, matte painters would create impeccably detailed backgrounds for the characters to look out into or even directly interact with. Reddit user Rowsdower_Rowsdower put together a compilation of some of the best photorealistic landscapes from classic films, many including photos of the artists at work. Here are some of our favorites from the collection.

batman matte

Batman, 1989

citizen kane matte

Citizen Kane, 1941

the wiz matte

The Wiz, 1978

dick tracy matte

Dick Tracy, 1990

earthquake matte

Earthquake, 1974

ben hur matte painting

Ben Hur, 1959

planet apes matte

Planet of the Apes, 1968

raiders lost ark matte

Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981

mary poppins matte

Mary Poppins, 1964

greatest story matte

The Greatest Story Ever Told, 1965

ghostbuster 2 matte

Ghostbusters II, 1989

vertigo matte

Vertigo, 1958

the sting matte

The Sting, 1973

torn curtain matte

Torn Curtain, 1966

empire strikes back matte

The Empire Strikes Back, 1980

return jedi matte

Return of the Jedi, 1983