Matte Painting in Krita: 10 Practical Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Get familiar with the software
  2. Use the right brushes
  3. Practice layer management
  4. Work with references
  5. Create a color palette
  6. Focus on light and shadow
  7. Learn perspective drawing
  8. Incorporate textures
  9. Be creative with blending modes
  10. Take breaks and review your work

Whether you're a seasoned digital artist or just starting out, becoming proficient in matte painting in Krita can seem daunting. But fear not! With patience, practice, and a few practical tips, you can elevate your digital artistry to new heights. We'll walk you through ten simple and effective ways to get better at matte painting in Krita, one brush stroke at a time.

Get familiar with the software

Remember your first day at school? You probably felt a bit lost, right? The same feeling can happen when you open Krita for the first time. But just like you found your way around school, you can get the hang of this software too. Here's how:

  • Explore the interface: Familiarize yourself with the layout of Krita. Know where the toolbar is, what the different panels do and how to navigate the menu. It's like getting to know the rooms in a new house.
  • Learn the shortcuts: Krita offers plenty of keyboard shortcuts. They are your best friends for a smooth and efficient workflow. For example, 'B' selects the Brush tool, while 'E' activates the eraser. Just like speed dial, shortcuts can save you a lot of time.
  • Play around: Experiment with different tools and settings. Try out various brushes, play with opacity, try different layer styles. It's like trying out all the toys in a toy store. You never know what you might end up liking.

Getting familiar with Krita is the first step towards getting better at matte painting in Krita. A good understanding of the software will let you focus on the creative process, rather than getting stuck on technicalities.

Use the right brushes

Imagine trying to paint a delicate flower with a brush the size of a broom. Difficult, isn't it? In Krita, the brushes are your tools, and using the right one can make a world of difference.

  • Explore Krita's brushes: Krita comes packed with an array of brushes for different purposes. From soft airbrushes for smooth gradients to hard-edged brushes for detailing, Krita has it all. It's like having a magic box of infinite brushes.
  • Customize your brushes: One of the great things about Krita is its flexibility. You can modify brushes to suit your specific needs. Want a brush with less opacity? Or a brush that mimics watercolor? You can create them in Krita. It's like crafting your unique set of tools.
  • Manage your brushes: Keep your frequently used brushes handy by adding them to the favorite list. Think of it as keeping your favorite toys in an easy-to-reach place.

Remember, using the right brushes can significantly improve your matte painting in Krita. It allows you to achieve the desired effects more easily and effectively. So, get to know your brushes, and they'll become your best allies in creating stunning matte paintings.

Practice layer management

Imagine you're building a sandwich. You wouldn't throw all the ingredients on the bread all at once, would you? No, you'd place them one by one, layer by layer. And that's exactly how layer management in Krita works.

  • Start with a base layer: Think of the base layer as your bread. It's where you start your matte painting. You can use it to sketch your initial ideas or set the background color.
  • Add more layers for different elements: Just like adding lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese to your sandwich, you can add more layers for different parts of your painting. This can help you keep things organized and make changes without affecting other parts of your painting.
  • Use layer masks: Layer masks in Krita are like the secret sauce in your sandwich. They can help you hide or reveal parts of a layer without actually erasing anything. This way, you can experiment without worrying about messing up.

Proper layer management is key to getting better at matte painting in Krita. It can help you stay organized, work more efficiently, and make your painting process smoother. So, next time you're working on a matte painting, think about it like building a sandwich — one layer at a time.

Work with references

You know that feeling when you're trying to describe something, but the right words just won't come? You might know it's a bird, it's blue, and it's small, but that's not enough to paint a vivid picture in someone's mind. And that's when you pull out your phone, find the perfect picture, and say, "This. This is what I'm talking about." That's the power of references.

  • Use references for accuracy: When you're working on a matte painting in Krita, having a reference image can make a world of difference. It can help you get the shapes, colors, and details just right. It's like having a map when you're exploring a new city.
  • Don't copy, adapt: But remember, references are just guides, not something to copy exactly. Use them to understand the subject better and then put your own spin on it. After all, you're an artist, not a photocopier.
  • Keep a reference library: And just like a bookworm has a library, a Krita artist should have a reference library. Collect images that inspire you or that you might want to use in future paintings. This way, you'll always have a source of inspiration at your fingertips.

Working with references is like having a cheat sheet for getting better at matte painting in Krita. It can guide you, inspire you, and help you create paintings that are both accurate and unique. So, next time you're stuck or unsure, pull out your reference library and let it guide you.

Create a color palette

The world of matte painting in Krita is like a rainbow—full of colors waiting to be explored. But just like too many cooks can spoil the broth, too many colors can spoil your painting. That's where a color palette comes in handy.

  • Begin with a base: To start, select a base color. This is the main color that will set the mood for your entire painting. Think of it as the lead actor in a play. It's the star, but it needs a strong supporting cast to shine.
  • Add complementary colors: Next, add a few complementary colors to your palette. These are the supporting actors. They need to work well with the base color, but also add some variety and contrast. It's a delicate balance, but when you get it right, it's magic.
  • Don't forget the neutrals: Finally, add some neutral colors to your palette. These are like the stage hands—they're not in the spotlight, but the show can't go on without them. They're perfect for backgrounds, shadows, and any area where you want the main colors to stand out.

Creating a color palette is a fun, creative part of getting better at matte painting in Krita. It's like picking out an outfit for a special occasion. You want to look your best, so you plan ahead, choose colors that work well together, and make sure you're ready to shine.

Focus on light and shadow

Mastering the play of light and shadow is like learning a secret language. It breathes life into your matte painting in Krita, giving it depth and dimension. So, how can you get better at this subtle art? Let's explore!

  • Understand the source of light: In the real world, light doesn't come from nowhere. It has a source—like the sun, a lamp, or a candle. So first, decide where your light is coming from. This will guide where the shadows fall in your painting.
  • Remember: Shadows are not just 'dark': It's easy to think of shadows as simply the 'dark parts'. But they're more than that—they're filled with color! Depending on the light source, shadows can have hues of blue, purple, or even green. Don't be afraid to experiment.
  • Use light to guide the eye: Light is also a powerful tool for directing the viewer's attention. By strategically placing highlights and shadows, you can guide the eye through your painting, like a visual tour guide.

Getting better at matte painting in Krita isn't just about the right brushes or the perfect color palette—it's also about understanding and using light and shadow effectively. It's like being a movie director, setting the stage for a powerful visual story. Ready to roll?

Learn perspective drawing

Imagine standing in a long hallway. The walls seem to converge as they stretch away from you, don't they? That's perspective at work. It's a key part of giving your matte paintings in Krita a realistic feel. Here's how you can get better at perspective drawing:

  1. Start with one-point perspective: This is where all lines converge to a single point on the horizon. It's great for simple scenes, like looking down a road or a railway track.
  2. Move onto two-point perspective: This is a bit more complex, with lines converging to two points on the horizon. It's perfect for drawing buildings or any object at an angle.
  3. Try three-point perspective: This is the most complex, where lines converge to three points. One is usually high above or below the horizon. It's used for dramatic shots, like skyscrapers looming overhead.

Remember, perspective isn't just about getting the lines right. It's about creating a sense of depth and scale. It's what makes a small bird on a tree branch look tiny compared to the vast sky behind it. So, don't shy away from this powerful tool in your quest for getting better at matte painting in Krita.

Incorporate textures

Ever noticed how the bark of a tree has a rough, bumpy texture while a pond's surface is smooth and reflective? Textures add a whole new level of realism to your matte paintings in Krita. Here's how you can incorporate them effectively:

  1. Observe real life: The best way to understand texture is to observe it in the world around you. Notice how different materials reflect light differently, or how they appear under different conditions.
  2. Use texture brushes: Krita comes with a variety of texture brushes. Play around with them and see how they can add depth and detail to your matte painting.
  3. Import textures: You can also import real-world textures into Krita. This is a great way to add a realistic feel to your work. But remember, less is often more with textures. Don't overdo it.

Adding texture isn't just about making your work look more realistic; it's also about adding a certain mood or atmosphere. A rough, crumbled wall might give a sense of decay and abandonment, while a smooth, shiny surface could suggest cleanliness and modernity. So next time you're working on getting better at matte painting in Krita, don't forget to add some texture!

Be creative with blending modes

Blending modes in Krita are like the secret ingredients of a delicious recipe. They can dramatically alter the mood, atmosphere, and even the narrative of your matte painting. So how can you get creative with blending modes in Krita?

  1. Experiment: Krita offers a plethora of blending modes such as Multiply, Overlay, and Dodge, each with its unique effect. The key is to experiment. Don't be afraid to test out different modes and see how they change your painting.
  2. Layer them: One blending mode can already make a big difference. Imagine what you could achieve by stacking different blending modes on top of each other. Just remember, it's all about balance. Too many blending modes can make your painting look overdone.
  3. Consider your colors: Not all blending modes work well with all colors. For instance, Screen mode tends to wash out darker colors. Keep this in mind as you play around with blending modes.

Think of blending modes as your magic wand in the world of matte painting in Krita. With a dash of creativity and a pinch of experimentation, they can transform your work from good to great. So go ahead, start getting better at matte painting in Krita by unleashing the power of blending modes!

Take breaks and review your work

Imagine spending hours on a matte painting in Krita, only to realize that something feels off. It's easy to lose perspective when you're knee-deep in the creative process. That's where taking breaks and reviewing your work come into play.

  1. Step away, literally: Sometimes, all you need is a fresh pair of eyes. Take a break. Step away from your computer and do something else. When you come back, you'll see your painting in a new light. You'll be better able to spot areas that need improvement.
  2. Zoom out: When working on details, you might be zoomed in too close. Try zooming out to see the whole picture. This can help you see if the elements of your painting are working together harmoniously.
  3. Flip your canvas: This is a neat trick that can help you see your painting from a different perspective. In Krita, you can easily flip your canvas horizontally or vertically. This can reveal issues with your painting that you might have missed.

Remember, getting better at matte painting in Krita isn't just about mastering techniques. It's also about developing a keen eye for details and an ability to critique your own work. So take those breaks, review your work, and watch as your matte paintings reach new heights!

If you enjoyed learning about matte painting in Krita and want to expand your painting skills even further, check out 'Improve Your Acrylic Painting Skills' by Rachel Christopoulos. Although focused on acrylic painting, the skills and techniques you'll learn in this workshop can be applied to various digital painting methods, including matte painting in Krita. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your artistic abilities!