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Create an AVATAR PLANET with Matte Painting (After Effects Tutorial)

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Adobe After Effects Tutorials

compositing, matte painting, Visual Effects

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Learn how to composite and Matte Painting a surreal environment like the Avatar: The Way of Water in this Adobe After Effects Tutorial.

Matte Paintings

It’s been a long wait, 13 years to be exact but it’s finally coming out, Avatar: The Way of Water. Back in 2009 when the first movie came out it was such a revolutionary movie. The CGI was so good that it even holds up to todays standards.

What really makes this a good movie is the world they create, you really feel like you’re on another planet when watching it. This got us inspired to create our own Avatar world. But instead of creating this in 3D like they do we wanted to show you a different route.

Since not everybody has access to 3d models or the knowledge to create an alien world in a 3D software. We want to use the power of compositing different pictures and videos to create our own Matte Painting.

How does Parallax work?

These days we can easily create digital matte paintings. We can throw some assets together and build a whole new world in a day. We can even use After Effects 3D option to put these assets on different Z axis values and thus creating parallax movements to make it more realistic.

However this wasn’t always the case. Back in the day people used to paint these worlds on big canvases. Which as you can imagine takes a lot of planning and time. If they wanted to create a parallax motion they needed to paint different part on different glass sheets. Put these apart from each other and shoot it with their camera.

How Parallax Works
Parallax created with different sheets/layers

Even to this day you have directors that prefer physical matte paintings instead of digital ones.


Big thanks to Storyblocks for the support on this video. Their community driven library always help us to find anything we need. They really help us to bring our Visual effects to life, without compromising on anything.

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