Behind the Mask Artists

Harrison Ellenshaw

Age: 78
Born: July 20, 1945

Matte Painter


Harrison Ellenshaw painted the Slave I matte painting in "The Empire Strikes Back" and was credited as the Matte Painting Supervisor for over 100 matte paintings.

Ellenshaw later re-did this effort in an original painting called "Boba Fett's Special Cargo."


"The shot happens at magic hour on Cloud City; there needed to be a real glow to it. So we took the [Slave I] model outside in the parking lot of ILM and we waited for a magic hour and I took my Hasselblad camera and I photographed it with natural light, with the cross-light of the sun just as it was going down. Then we took that to a still lab and had them blow it up onto color print film. That's what got placed on the glass. I then started modifying some of the photography of Slave 1. For example, the cockpit – that wouldn't photograph right, so we cut the cockpit out and then that was painted. I airbrushed in a little area for that. In the background, one of the buildings was also a photograph of a miniature, and then I painted some other ones, too. ... After we made the blow-up that we shot outside, we cut that out. I put it on the glass. I added the other stuff. And then behind that was a piece of masonite with the clouds on it. Then we shipped it off to Van Der Veer Photo Effects in Hollywood and they added Han Solo in carbonite and the men and Boba Fett walking up the ramp that had been shot against bluescreen in England." -- Harrison Ellenshaw, to Befores and Afters

Last updated: February 20, 2023
Article ID: 175