Matte Painting Tutorial of Tajmahal Using Photoshop

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Traditionally, matte paintings were made by artists using paints or pastels on large sheets of glass for integrating with the live-action footage. The first known matte painting shot was made in 1907 by Norman Dawn (ASC). Later on Matte Painting revolutionized to an extreme level for which Avatar is an example. In this tutorial we are going to cover few basic concepts and tricks in matte painting using Adobe Photoshop and designing the great and wonder of world Tajmahal.

Resources Used

open land:
wooden wheel:



Fog Brushes:


Before starting any Matte Painting it’s very important to make a rough sketch of the matte that you are going to make,it helps you very much while searching for the resource.


Open a new canvas in photoshop with HD resolution 1280x720px.Then import the pic of a marble estate and select a mask to remove the background using the Pen Tool(P).

step2: 1)

Now import ‘country side’ pic and maskout the sky using the Magic Wand Tool(W).

2)Import the ‘country side’ pic onto the canvas and place it under the ‘marble estate’ layer.

3)Duplicate the layer to cover the background with hills as shown.

4)According to the laws of optics the far away object appear little blurred, so let’s add Gaussian Blur(Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur) with radius equal to 1.6px.


Now place the image of the distant mountains under the previous layers.The sky in this pic suits the scene that we are going to create.


Maskout Taj Mahal from it’s original image using the Pen Tool(P).Then place it on the canvas as shown.

-Using the pen tool gives an accurate cut,so i prefer using it while cutting an image.If you feel any other tool can do  better feel free to use it.


Now by using the Clone Stamp Tool(S) remove the trees that are covering the base of the Taj.


Since we are going to show the construction of the Tajmahal, we must ceate some unconstructed parts of Taj. Hence mask out the parts where you want to show the unconstructed areas.


Maskout the background of the ‘roman crane’ using the Pen Tool(P).

step8: 1)

Now import the ‘roman crane’ onto the working canvas and transform it to the prospective using the Move Tool(V).

2)Using the Clone Stamp Tool(S) remove the excess rope from the wheel.

step9: 1)

The TajMahal exterior was built by red stone and then covered with the layer of marble.
To show the uncovered part of the redstone, mask some part of the Taj using the Lasso Tool(L) and change the                     Hue/Saturation levels to Hue=34,Saturation=34,Lightness=-27.
2)Similarly mask some part of the tomb of the Taj and set the Hue/Saturation levels to Hue=Saturation=34,Lightness=-      30.
3)With the whole Tajmahal layer selected change the Exposure(Image>Adjustments>Exposure) to Exposure=- 0.30,Offset=+0.0102,Gamma Correction=1.00.


To show the constructional rods of Taj use the Pen Tool.
Before using the pen tool set the Paint brush size to 2px and select hard round brush.Then select the pen tool and make a curve with it,then right click on the curve and select Stroke Path.In the stroke path drop down list select brush. Then you can see the path stroked with the brush properties selected.You need to make a new path for every rod, because all rods don’t look the same.


Before painting the construction support rods lets refer few pics to get the clear idea of how to paint them. Referring with real images is very important to get the maximum realistic look to the work.


Now by using the hard paint brush and with the dark brown color selected paint the constructional support for the tomb as referred in the reference.


Similarly follow the previous step in painting the constructional support to the minar.


Using the Clone Stamp Tool(S) remove the proclamation scoop from the ‘marble estate’ layer.

step15: 1)

With the ‘marble estate’ layer selected goto Image>Adjustments>Curves and change the curves as shown.
2)Now select the ‘Taj’ layer and colour correct it using the Curves as shown.
3)Similarly color correct the background layers using the curves. Make sure that the colour correction matches other layers.

step16: 1)

Now select the ‘roman wheel’ layer and colour correct to match the scene using the curves.
2) Set the exposure levels to Exposure=0.047,Offset=0.0020,Gamma Correction=1.02.


Now select the Burn Tool(O) and select the basic Chalk Brush from the brushes pallet,then set the brush properties to Size Jitter=100%,Minimum Diameter=0%,Angle Jitter=52%,Roundness Jitter=30%,Minimum Roundness=25%.Also make sure that Scattering and smoothing options are checked.
Then click on the ‘roman wheel’ layer thumbnail holding Ctrl to select the mask of the layer. Then using the burn tool add shadows to the wheel as shown.


Now click on the thumbnail of the ‘Taj’ layer holding Ctrl to select the mask in shape of Taj. Then by using a Soft  Round Brush and it’s opacity set to 37% with the black color selected paint some shadows to the Taj assuming that the sun is on the left side.


Since we are focusing on Taj the wheel appears to be out of focus, So let’s add Gaussian Blur of 1.1 Radius to it.


Also let’s blur some part of the ‘marble estate’ layer which is near to the screen.
1)Using the Lasso Tool(L) select some part of the estate layer and set the mask feather to 75px.
2)Now set the Gaussian Blur Radius to 1.0px.

Step21: 1)

Now import an elephant image onto the canvas and transform it to fit the matte using the Move Tool(V).
2)Add shadow to the elephant using an airbrush, then set the Opacity of th shadow layer to 32%.


Make a new layer and add some dust flying in the air using the brush tool,then set it’s Opacity to 45%.


Now add Lens Flare to the matte as shown and set the lens type to 35mm Prime.

Final Image:

taj mahal:

open land:

wooden wheel:



fog brushes: 
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