Since the early 2000s, computer generated images, aka CGI, has been the default technology for special effects, but in the 70s and 80s, hand-painting was the technique used for certain scenes, which can be seen in the original Star Wars trilogy.
“Matte paintings are fake sets that—most of the time—are used to be made with plexiglass and oil paint. The artists used oversized panels to create the necessary detail that the camera needed to fool the audiences when the film was projected over the large surface of the theater screen. The paintings were combined with live action film to match the perspective of the painting. If done well, the public would totally buy into the shot.”
Click the jump to check out the original Star Wars trilogy paintings and a history timeline of CGI in movies.