The matte paintings in Star Wars played a huge role in creating some of the most breathtaking backgrounds within the original trilogy. Matte paintings typically depict landscapes or large set-pieces painted onto glass using oil, acrylics, or pastels. Combined with live footage during post-production, the matte background seamlessly blends into action in the foreground, looking much more realistic than they might behind the scenes. While considered a dying art, many cinephiles argue that matte paintings stand the test of time better than CGI. Featured in film since the early 1900s, matte paintings have also appeared in many of the most recognizable shots in contemporary cinema history. For example, Oscar-winning films like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings utilized matte paintings to establish some of the films’ memorable scenes.
Fans might be surprised to learn just how many scenes in the original Star Wars films contained matte paintings. Chris Evans, Mike Pangrazio, Frank Ordaz, Harrison Ellenshaw, and Ralph McQuarrie, all masters of the oil matte painting, created dozens of backgrounds and settings without CGI. Find out below if you were fooled by any of these gorgeous Star Wars matte paintings.