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George R.R. Martin’s series of novels “A Song of Ice and Fire“ has made its mark on the TV landscape in the past eight years. The unique look and feel of blockbuster series “Game of Thrones“ has been greatly influenced by numerous German visual effects artists who have been designing dragons, castles and landscapes in Berlin and Frankfurt. Now 40 of those artists have teamed up to illustrate the origins of Westeros and showcase their artwork in cities across Germany starting in early 2019. The “Unseen Westeros” exhibition will present previously unpublished scenes from the “The World of Ice and Fire”.

Join us as we take a look behind the scenes of visual effects creation. Watch exclusive making-of videos and in-depth tutorials to learn how Westeros cities and landscapes come to life in Adobe Photoshop CC.


Making-of videos featuring “Unseen Westeros” artists

In these short videos, you’ll learn how the artists turned their ideas into cities and landscapes for the “Unseen Westeros” exhibition.

  • Lorath
  • Lorath

    The city of Lorath is located on a flat, rocky island. In ancient times, it was inhabited by the mysterious mazemakers, who disappeared a long time before historiography even began and left nothing behind but their mazes. The mazemakers constructed extensive buildings of remarkable complexity. Scattered across the entire island, they take up more than three-fourths of the island’s surface area, which includes four underground stories. Even today, experts wonder what the mazes were made for.

    Sven Sauer, who initiated the “Unseen Westeros” exhibition, lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Working as a digital artist for international movie productions, Sven has a project portfolio that includes Atomic Blonde, Oblivion and Melancholia. Also, he has been working for the “Game of Thrones“ series since season 2. In his role, he developed Dragonstone and Harrenhal. His projects have earned him the Academy Award for Visual Effects.

    Berlin-based Kirill Barybin has been working as a concept designer for international computer game productions for three years now. In collaboration with Berlin-based design studio KARAKTER, he has been involved with the production of a number of video games, including Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms. 

  • Valyria

    For many thousand years, the Valyrians used to be the most powerful people in the known world. Its capital, home of the dragons, was a magnificent city until one day it was wiped out completely within only a few hours. The hills erupted, and the land was covered in ashes, smoke, and fire. Until today, no one has figured out what caused the disaster that instantly destroyed what used to be the world’s proudest city.

    Max Riess is a Germany-based visual effects artist. He’s been working in the VFX industry for over a decade now. The projects he was a part of include Melancholia, Super 8, The Physician, and Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning movie Hugo. As for “Game of Thrones“, he’s been contributing to the series since season 5. In 2016, his work for Dragon’s Lair was nominated for the Visual Effects Society Award (VES). He co-developed and took part in the relaunch of Dragonstone in season 7.

    Sven Sauer
    : see above.

  • Valyria
  • Chroyane
  • Chroyane

    The city of Chroyane used to be called the “Festival City” of the Rhoynar. Rumour has it that its streets were made of water and its homes were made of gold. Chroyane was once the most affluent and most beautiful city on the Rhoyne river until it was destroyed in the war with Valyria. Since then, the ruins, which are covered in foul fog, have been cursed and are now inhabited by a people called the Stone Men.

    Falk Boje was born in Germany. After working in Europe for several years, he moved to Vancouver, Canada, four years ago. A lead generalist, he specializes in the creation of photorealistic landscapes and environments for international movie productions. For “Game of Thrones“, he primarily worked on Fist of the First Men and Beyond the Wall in season 2, which earned him the Visual Effects Society Award (VES) in 2011. For season 3, he was a member of the team that brought the desert city of Yunkai to life.

  • Bleeding Sea

    Bleeding Sea is located east of the Bone Mountains. An inland sea, it was named for its blood-red waters that are caused by a plant that grows in it.

    Benjamin Nowak is based in Vancouver, Canada, and has been working as a digital artist for international movie productions for five years now, including Oblivion, Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War. His work for Spike Jonze’s Kenzo World earned him a nomination for the Visual Effects Society Award (VES). He co-developed Yunkai for season 3 of “Game of Thrones“.

  • Bleeding Sea
  • Tyrosh
  • Tyrosh

    The city of Tyrosh was founded as a military outpost for the Valyrian Freehold. The Tyroshi are notorious for their greed. Slavery still exists in the city. The inhabitants of Tyrosh love bright colours and even colour their hair and beards brightly.

    Claudio Pilia is based in Stuttgart, Germany, and has been working as a digital artist for two years now. His portfolio includes international projects for Justice League and The Walking Dead. He has been part of “Game of Thrones“ productions since season 7, including the development of Dragonstone and Dragonpit.

Matte painting tutorials by “Unseen Westeros” artist Philipp Scherer

Join the experienced visual effects artist Philipp Scherer as he walks you through the creation of the city of Norvos by combining multiple images and digital painting techniques in Adobe Photoshop CC.

Philipp Scherer Tutorial
Turning an idea into a sketch

Philipp shows you how to do research, find reference images, and create a sketch for your matte painting.

Philipp Scherer Tutorial
Filling and combining sketch elements

Using photos, blending modes, and colour adjustment tools, Philipp creates a fantastic “Game of Thrones“-style collage.

Philipp Scherer Tutorial
Adding a film look and finishing touches

Philipp adds depth of field, makes the foreground come to life, and uses some photographic tricks to make the landscape look realistic.

Try Photoshop CC for free and create your own matte painting.

Download the “Unseen Westeros” artists’ tool of choice and start creating your own matte painting. See below for further help and resources, including the final background and useful images for creating the collage.


Getting started is easy. Download our free resources.

Even if you’re new to Photoshop CC, you can create your own matte painting by using our resources. “Unseen Westeros” artist Philipp Scherer has shared the background image of his Norvos matte painting and other resources (brushes and actions) he used. In addition, you can download 10 free* images he used for the Norvos painting from his Adobe Stock gallery.

Download the Photoshop file and resources

* Only available for new customers as part of a free membership, which will automatically become a paid membership at 29.99 €/month plus tax unless you change or cancel it within the first 30 days. Credit card information required to take advantage of this offer.

The matte painting workflow

Once you‘re done creating a matte painting in Photoshop, you can turn it into a moving image using After Effects and Premiere Pro. The artist has to create a new matte painting for every new perspective.

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