Matte and miniatures at Ray Harryhausen films

This page is dedicated to matte paintings and miniatures at the movies of Ray Harryhausen, master of stop-motion animation.

Harryhausen himself made some glass paintings for his earlier movies. A good example could be his abandoned personal project of “Evolution”.  He was a great painter and illustrator, and probably could have become a really good matte painter but he focused his career on Stop-motion animation.


As far as I know, the only movie in which there was a matte painter credited was “Clash of the Titans”(1980) where Cliff Culley was responsible for supervising the miniatures and matte paintings.

The rest of the matte painters that contributed to Harryhausen films were uncredited, like Les Bowie, a matte painter who became all around FX master.

Under his supervision, some miniatures and matte paintings were made for movies like “First Men in the Moon” and” One Million Years B.C.”

At Les Bowie matte department were Ray Caple and Bob Cuff.

Harryhausen didn’t use matte paintings always; he favored also the use of model miniatures which were matted into the live-action set.

Most of the optical effects were done in England, at Shepperton Studios where they create some miniatures and matte paintings.

During the 50´s and ’60s, Wally Weevers was head of the visual effects department at Shepperton, and among his collaborators where matte artists like, Bob Cuff,  George Samuels,  Gerald Larn or Doug Ferris.

Some of the Harryhausen movies were filmed in Spain, and among his Spanish collaborators were Emilio Ruiz del Rio who painted some glass shot on location, and Francisco Prosper, constructor coordinator in charge also of building model miniatures.

I have been able to give credit to some artists thanks to the collaboration of professionals like Bob Cuff, Gerald Larn, John Grant, Doug Ferris, or  Emilio Ruiz, to whom I’m very thankful.

The beast from 20.000 fathoms (1952)

Warner Bros
Producer: Hal Chester; Jack Dietz
Director: Eugene Lourie
Written by: Lou Morheim, Fred Firburger
Based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
Special Visual Effects Created By: Ray Harryhausen
Art Director: Eugene Lourie
Director Of Photography: Jack Russell
Film Editor: Bernard W. Burton
Music by: David Buttloph
Miniature maker: Willis Cook

Lots of miniatures but not a single matte painting, as far as I know. Director Eugene Lourie was art director and FX expert. He used hanging miniatures very often. He didn’t favor the use of matte paintings.

fathoms1b fathomsMiniat

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

Director: Robert Gordon
Cinematography by Henry Freulich
Art Direction by Paul Palmentola
Special effects: Jack Erickson
Special visual effects: Ray Harryhausen

There is an uncredited matte painting for a long view of San Francisco harbor. The tentacles creature was also painted.  Jack Erickson was the FX supervisor for Columbia films. There were not matte painters credited at Columbia films. They probably hired a freelance artist for the matte work.


Animal World (1956)

Warner Bros
Directed by Irwin Allen
Produced by Irwin Allen
Cinematography by Harold E. Wellman
Art Direction by Bill Tuttle
Visual Effects by Willis H. O’Brien / Ray Harryhausen
Matte painting: Jack Shaw

Miniatures sets build by Harryhausen and matte paintings by Jack Shaw

animalWorld1 animalWorld2

 The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Producer: Charles H. Schneer;
Director: Nathan Juran
Written by: Kenneth Kolb
Special Visual Effects Created By: Ray Harryhausen
Art Director: Gill Parrondo
Director Of Photography: Wilkie Cooper
Film Editors: Edwin Bryant, A.C.E.; Jerome Thoms, A.C.E.
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Technicolor Color Consultant: Henri Jaffa
Matte painting: unknown
Miniature artist: George Lofgren
Set and model construction in Spain: Francisco Prosper
Scenic artist: Emilio Ruiz del Rio

Miniatures were made in London under Harryhausen’s supervision. Matte painting shots were stock footage by other films.  There were not mattes originally painted for that film.


This matte painting of Baghdad was not originally made for the Harryhausen film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad by Columbia Pictures.  In his biography book, Ray didn’t remember from what film it was taken.  It was a Universal film “The veils of Baghdad” (1953) Probably the matte painting was from Russell Lawson head of Universal matte department at that time.

There is another matte painting on this Harryhausen film that was originally made for another film. in this case is a coastal scene with a ship. That painting appears on a previous film, for Decameron nights (1953)

7th Voyage 2

The entrance cave was a set made on location by Francisco Prósper team, and the upper part was a miniature matted in by Harryhausen.

7th voyage filming2

7voyage03 7voyage04  7voyage06colosa1HarrySinbad58

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960)

Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Jack Sher
Writing: Arthur A. Ross / Jack Sher
Original Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography : Wilkie Cooper
Film Editing: Raymond Poulton
Art Direction: Derek Barrington / Gil Parrondo
Visual Effects: Ray Harryhausen
Matte painting: Unknown
Miniatures in Spain: Francisco Prosper
Scenic artist: Emilio Ruiz del Rio.

Some of the miniature work was done in Spain by Francisco Prosper team to be used during the filming. Some other models were built during postproduction in London. There is a matte shot that could be painting or a miniature matted in. Travelling mattes were done at Pinewood Studios. Probably the matte painting was done also at Pinewood matte department, at that time under Cliff  Culley.

Gulliver2Gulliver3 Gulliver4 gulliver5 gulliver6

Three images of the miniatures built in Spain. With Harryhausen is art director Gil Parrondo.

Gulliverminiat1 Gulliverminiat2 Gulliverminiat3

Mysterious Island (1961)

Columbia Pictures
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Cy Endfield
Screenwriter: John Prebble, Dan Ullman, Crane Wilbur based on the novel L’Ile Mysterieuse by Jules Verne
Editor: Frederick Wilson
Cinematographer: Wilkie Cooper, Egil Woxholt
Music director: Bernard Herrmann
Art design: Bill Andrews
Special effects: Ray Harryhausen
Art director: William C. Andrews
Matte artist: They were executed by the Shepperton Studios matte department, under Wally Veevers supervision. They would by painted probably by Bob Cuff and George Samuels, Alan Maley and Ivor Beddoes worked freelance for Shepperton Studios at that time, so maybe they also contributed.
Miniatures in Spain: Francisco Prosper

Miniatures were built at Shepperton Studios. Also, the matte paintings were done by the Shepperton matte department with Wally Veevers supervision. British matte artists Bob Cuff worked on those paintings. Some miniatures were also built in Spain by Francisco Prosper like the Nautilus cave. The black and white illustrations are the work of  Harryhausen.

islandbaloon islandcoastline

Matte painting at left,  and filming the set built at the location in Spain at right.

islandfacade islandlogchasm

Miniature built at Shepperton Studios. Ray with the balloon miniature.islandraybaloon Islandrockcave islandvolcano

Nautilus cave and Volcano miniatures built in Spain.


Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Columbia Pictures a Morningside production
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Don Chaffey
Screenwriter: Jan Read, Beverley Cross
Editor: Maurice Rootes
Cinematographer: Wilkie Cooper
Music director: Bernard Herrmann
Art directors: Herbert Smith, Jack Maxsted, Toni Sarzi Braga
Special visual effects: Ray Harryhausen
Matte painting & miniatures: They were executed at the Shepperton Studios in England, under Wally Veevers supervision. They would by painted probably by Bob Cuff and George Samuels.

Mattes and miniatures were done at postproduction again at the Shepperton matte department under Wally Veevers. Bob Cuff was one of the matte painters on that show. Les Bowie contributed also with some FX and miniatures.

jason1 jason2 jason3a jason4a

The set of the Temple without the matte.


First Men in the Moon (1964)

Producer: Charles H. Schneer;
Director: Nathan Juran
Written by: Nigel Kneale / Jan Read by the story of H.G.Wells
Special Visual Effects Created By: Ray Harryhausen
Art Director: John Blezard
Director Of Photography: Wilkie Cooper
Film Editors: Maurice Rootes.
Music by: Laurie Johnson
Matte painting & miniatures: Les Bowie Company, with Ray Caple and Bob Cuff, and Peter Melrose.
Text explanations by the book: Ray Harryhausen, an animated life.
” Shepperton studios were to be used for all the live-action photography, but because of the huge number of traveling mattes and miniatures to be produced, I realized I would require assistance. I approached Les Bowie, who has done some work on Jason and the Argonauts”

Matte paintings and miniatures were done by Les Bowie company. Ray Caple and Bob Cuff in charge of matte paintings. Kit West worked at matte and miniature photography.

Firstmen1 Firstmen2 Firstmen4

“The descending shaft that allowed sunlight to penetrate the world of Selenites was, in fact, a cardboard tube of approximately 24 inches diameter by about 10 feet long, and was shot horizontally against black.”

Firstmen5 Firstmen6 Firstmen7 Firstmen8 Firstmen9 Firstmen90 Firstmen91

Hary Harryhausen and Les Bowie with one of the miniatures.


One of Les Bowie artist giving the last brush strokes to the Earth model, in front of a tabletop miniature.


One Million Years B.C. (1966)

Produced: Michael Carreras Hal Roach ..Aida Young
Directed: Don Chaffey
Writing: Michael Carreras
Original Music: Mario Nascimbene
Cinematography: Wilkie Cooper
Film Editing: Tom Simpson
Art Direction: Robert Jones
Visual Effects: Ray Harryhausen
Special Effects: George Blackwell
Matte paintings: Bob Cuff, Ray Caple under Les Bowie supervision.
Prologue designer: Les Bowie

Les Bowie company was in charge of matte painting and miniature FX with Ray Caple and Bob Cuff painting.

million1 million2 million3 million4 million5 million7

Valley of Gwangi. (1969)

Producer: Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen
Director: Gordon Hessler
Written by: Kenneth Kolb
Special Visual Effects Created By: Ray Harryhausen
Art Director: Gill Parrondo
Director Of Photography: Erwin Hillier
Film Editors: Henry Richardson
Music by: Jerome Moross
Matte painting: Gerald Larn, Doug Ferris

This time it was again Shepperton matte department in charge of matte paintings with Doug Ferris and Gerald Larn paintings and John Grant at camera work. Some miniatures were done in Spain by Francisco Prosper, and some others in London by Shepperton FX crew.

Text explanations by the book: “Ray Harryhausen, an animated life.”

For the Establishing Shot of the Forbidden Valley, they used the unusual rock formation of Ciudad Encantada near Cuenca,
with some more gigantic rocks matte painted at the upper part of the shot.
That matte painting was by Gerald Larn. The others by Doug Ferris, both at Shepperton matte department.


“The first shot of the balloon and canopy was through a gateway for which I used a miniature of the balloon suspended on a wire 10-12 feet from the camera. Matching up the perspective in the camera, I carefully fitted it to look as though it was part of the full-sized curtain and base.”


“For the high shots, the balloon was a matte painting combined with the real curtain”


“For the low shots inside the arena, I used a matte painting of the balloon and canopy”


“The exterior of the burning church was part real,  part miniature. The upper section with the flames was a miniature matched with the lower section”


Golden Voyage of Sinbad. (1974)

Columbia Pictures
Producer: Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen
Director: Gordon Hessler
Written by: Brian Clemens
Special Visual Effects Created By: Ray Harryhausen
Art Director: Fernando Gonzalez
Director Of Photography: Ted Moore
Film Editor: Toy Watts
Music by: Miklos Rosza
Special Make up: Colin Arthur.
Glass shots: Emilio Ruiz del Rio
Miniatures: Francisco Prosper

Text explanations by the book: Ray Harryhausen, an animated life

Golden01 Golden02
“The Temple of the Oracle of All knowledge. The 39-inch miniature was beautifully constructed and mounted on a large table by Francisco Prosper and his crew. Because Koura demolishes the building, we constructed it in small brick-like sections so that when shot at high speed it would seem to disintegrate outwards like large stone blocks.”

Golden03 Golden04 goldenminiat


“The exterior of the Temple of Kali was, in fact, a 32-inch high miniature into which the actors would be later added (sandwiched between the temple and the foreground miniature foliage) by means of a travelling matte”

The traveling mattes were done at London under Vic Margutti’s supervision.

Golden Voyage Sinbad-Margutti TM

Some other miniatures that were matted at Postproduction.

Golden05 Golden06

Emilio Ruiz del Rio and Ray Harryhausen with one of  Emilio´s “on location”  glass shots for the city of Marabia.



Another Emilio Ruiz del Rio´s cut out painted miniature of the city, mounted in front of the camera with the full-size set of Sinbad´s ship, built miles from the sea at the Verona Studios, near Madrid in Spain. The painting was on two cut out aluminum pieces. The city at right and some buildings at left.

GoldenVoyage-Ruiz GoldenVoyageEmilioFX

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. (1977)

Columbia Pictures
Producer: Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen
Director: Sam Wanamaker
Written by: Beverly Cross
Based on a story by Ray Harryhausen.
Special Visual Effects Created By: Ray Harryhausen
Additional Visual effects: Les Bowie
Art Director: Fernando Gonzalez /Fred Carter
Director Of Photography: Ted Moore
Film Editor: Roy Watts
Music by: Roy Budd
Special Make up: Colin Arthur.

Les Bowie helped Harryhausen on building some miniatures that were matted in during postproduction.

Comments by the book “An animated life, by Ray Harryhausen”

“The shots of the city of Charak were not, as some people believe, paintings. For some reason, I produced all these shots myself using real locations and making composites that included models”.

Ray and Charles Schneer with some miniatures from the film.

EyeTiger Miniatures

“In the long shot, the real buildings of Medina on Malta were matted in above the walls of Avila and combined with 8-inch high miniatures of minarets and domes to give it an Arabian architecture.”


“The exterior of Zenobia´s Palace was a 16-inch model matted into the Almeria coastline, with the actors standing on rocks. The moon (which was unused footage from Golden Voyage) and the mist were both double printed over it.”


There are some reused matte paintings and some other miniatures probably by Les Bowie.

EyetigermIniat Eyetigerminiat2 EyetigerMiniat3

Strangely there is a reused matte painting from another film. “Scott of the Antarctic” (1948) The original matte was painted by Geoffrey Dickinson.


Clash of the Titans (1981)

Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Producer: Charles H. Schneer/ Ray Harryhausen /John Palmer
Director: Desmond Davis
Writing: Beverley Cross
Original Music: Laurence Rosenthal
Cinematography : Ted Moore
Film Editing: Timothy Gee
Production Design: Frank White
Art Direction:Giorgio Desideri / Fernando Gonzalez / Peter Howitt / Don Picton
Costume Design: Emma Porteus
Special visual effects creator: Ray Harryhausen
Special makeup effects: Colin Arthur
Blue screen technician: Dennis Bartlett
Special miniatures and matte painting: Cliff Culley
Special opticals: Roy Field / Frank Van der Veer
Animator assistant: Jim Danforth / Steve Archer
Matte cameraman: Martin Body (uncredited)
Model maker: Colin Chilvers / Janet Stevens
Floor/physical effects, and miniatures:  Brian Smithies
Prosthetics technician: Nick Maley
Matte and miniature camera: Neil Culley
Miniature makers at Culley´s team: Terry Adlam, Rodney Fuller, Ray Hanson, Leigh Took, Peter White, Mark Woollard

Cliff Culley was the supervisor of matte and miniature effects with Leigh Took assistance. Colin Chilvers and Janet Stevens as model makers. Miniature makers at Culley´s team: Terry Adlam, Rodney Fuller, Ray Hanson, Leigh Took, Peter White, Mark Woollard. Matte and miniature camera: Neil Culley

Animation legend Ray Harryhausen with the miniature city of Argos, with a painted backing behind him.


The miniature city and the painted backing composited with the real sea.


Real location in Malta with miniatures matted in.


“The set all ready to be flooded and you can just see Neil Culley behind the high-speed camera.” Terry Adlam


“This image shows the crew preparing the model prior to the tidal wave. You can just see on the right-hand side of the photo the two ‘tip tanks’ and the chute that the water travelled down.
The amount of work and detail that went into this model was amazing, and so was the resulting shot and all with no CGI!!!” Terry Adlam


“Most of the miniatures were breakaways, right down to the columns and the temple facade were made in Cliff’s workshops. I remember that one of my jobs was making all the roof tiles for the main building. These had to be made separately so that some would fall off when the water hit the buildings. The buildings were made of various materials ranging from wood, plaster, and rubber. I also remember setting this shot one weekend when it poured down with rain all the time, but come the Monday when we shot it, as you can see the sun shone.” Terry Adlam.

Titans04 Titans05

The actors were filmed in front of a blue screen and composited latter into the miniature by Roy Field.


Some other images showing miniatures composited with live-action elements.  miniature of Mount Olympus with a painted backing by Cliff Culley.

Titans08clash titans miniature.

Some other miniatures composited with live-action elements were made under the supervision of Brian Smithies.

Titans06 Titans07

Filmed on the Spanish Location of El Torcal de Antequera, the same miniature was matted in from different angles.  That miniature was also made by Brian Smithies.  The last image is the real location,  where some other movies were filmed like “The Deserter” (1971) with also Cliff Culley matte paintings.

Titans09 Titans090 Titans091paisaje-del-torcal[1]

The left side of the island was a matte painting addition with a temple. Ray adds fog effect at postproduction to improve the composition.