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Members Area Tutorial: Photo Manipulate an Atmospheric Warrior Scene

In this tutorial we are going to create a Medieval age environment. In this scene the mountain of doom constantly emits black smoke that covers the sky and prevents the light from sun touching the ground. But the rays of hope falls on a warrior who is destined to put an end to the evil.

This tutorial covers topics like, Concept sketching, Creating a landscape using multiple images, Creating flags using the Displacement Option, Importance of Depth Of Field in matte paintings, Complex extraction techniques Lighting, Cinematic Color Correction and more great techniques!

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Sketching is always the best process to start with Matte Painting or while creating a cinematic scene. So here we have done a rough sketch of the scene that we are going to create.

Step 2

Now let’s name the properties that are required in the scene. This makes our work much easier while searching for the suitable images to fit with our concept. The same can be applied while making a short film to calculate the budget.

-The best place to find free stock images is sxc.hu and if you are looking for a model or a character for your work we recommend you to check Deviantart.com. These are the treasure chests for all the digital artists.

Step 3

In this step we will be creating background scenery.

1) Import the image of the hills onto the working canvas and place it on the left side of the canvas as shown.

2) Now import another image of the hills and place it as shown and erase the left side of the ‘hills 2′ layer using the Soft Eraser Tool (E) to blend both the hill layers perfectly.

Step 4

In this step we are going to create an old destroyed gateway on the right side of the scene.

1) Import the image of the gateway onto the working canvas and place it on the right side of the canvas just as we sketched in our concept.

2) Now create a Curves Adjustment layer to the Gateway and set the curves as shown, then set the Opacity of the adjustment layer to 40%.

Step 5

In this step we are going to create a ground on which our warrior will be placed.

1) Import the image of the graveled mud heap on to the canvas and place it as shown. Then by using the Lasso Tool (L) cut the mud in the shape of the selection as shown.

2) Similarly repeat the same process and complete the ground as shown.

3) Now merge all the ground layers and create an Adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation to the ground layer and set the Saturation level to -48.

4) Now create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown.

Step 6

In this step we are going to add clouds to the scene.

1) Grey clouds are the best choice for the scene we are creating, hence import the image of the grey clouds on to the canvas and place it behind the hills.

2) Duplicate the same clouds image and flip it horizontally and fill the rest of the scene.

3) Now create an Adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation to the clouds layer and set the Saturation Level to -48.

4) Now create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Gamma Correction to 0.76.

Step 7

In this step we are going to color correct the hills to blend with the environment we are creating.

1) Create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the hills layer and set the Exposure level to -0.87 and Gamma Correction to 0.70.

2) Now create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown.

3) Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and set the Saturation level to -100 and Lightness to -30. Then reduce the Opacity of the Adjustment layer to 80%.

4) Now fill Black color in the shape of the hills and set the opacity of the black layer to 25%.

5) Now create a new layer and paint the dark shadows at the bottom of the hills and also in the sky as shown.

Step 8

In this step we are going to create a ruined castle located far from our focused area.

1) Import the image of the ruined castle on to the working canvas and place it as shown on the left side of the scene.

2) Now create an Adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation to the castle layer and set the Saturation level -31.

3) Create another Adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation and set the Saturation level to -41 and Lightness to -30. Then set the Opacity of the Adjustment layer to 65%.

4) Now by using the Curves Adjustment layer color correct the castle as shown.

5) Using the Soft Round Brush paint dark shadow on the castle as shown to match with the lighting of the scene we are creating.

Step 9

In this step we will be placing few graves close to the scene.

1) Import the image of the grave with a raven standing on it, on to the canvas and place it on the left side of the scene.

2) Depth Of Field (DOF) always plays a major role in making the scene look more realistic. It is highly recommended to refer as many Close Up and Landscape photographs possible to understand the properties of DOF. Images with perfect DOF will definitely standout from the rest.

-With the ‘grave 1′ layer selected go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 4.0px.

3) Now create a Curves Adjustment layer to the ‘grave1′ and set the curves as shown. Then set the Opacity of the adjustment layer to 40%.

4) Now paint slight shadow on the left side of the grave and also on the top of the raven.

Step 10

In this step we will be adding another grave which will be located near to the warrior character as depicted in the sketch.

1) Import the image of the ‘grave 2′ on to the canvas and place it as shown on the right side of the scene.

2) Now create an Adjustment layer of Curves and color correct the grave as shown. Then set the Opacity of the layer to 40%.

3) Create an Adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation layer and set the Saturation level to -35.

4) Now create another Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown to get the perfect blend of the grave with the environment of the scene.

5) Using the Soft Brush paint the shadow on the grave2 as shown.

6) Similarly add few more graves in the scene as shown.

Step 11

In this step we are going to paint shadows in the scene to blend all the elements perfectly together.

1) Using the Soft Brush paint shadow on the Ruined Gateway as shown.

2) Now add shadow to the graveled mud ground.

3) Now paint black shadow along the borders of the scene as shown.

4) Create a new layer beneath the Hills layer and paint dark shade along the top edge of the hills as shown.

Step 12

In this step we are going to paint the dark smoke bursting from the hill.

1) Using the smoke brush with the black color selected paint black smoke on the top of the hill as shown.

2) Now select another smoke brush and paint it as shown to illustrate that the black smoke has covered the sky and obstructing the sunrays from reaching the ground.

Step 13

Now since we had our Back Ground setup, it is time we bring in our main character into the scene.

1) Cut the image of the warrior from the original plate using the Magic Wand Tool (W) and import it on to the canvas and place it as shown, just the way we sketched in the beginning.

2) Now create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer to the Warrior layer and set the Saturation Level to -55.

3) Create a Curves adjustment layer and set the curves as shown.

4) Now create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Exposure level to -0.10, Offset to -0.0392 and Gamma Correction to 0.77.

Step 14

In this step we are going to paint shadows on the warrior to match him with the lighting of the scene.

1) Using the Pen Tool (P) create a mask around the warrior’s right leg and paint the shadow as shown and set the Opacity of the shadow layer to 77%.

2) Now paint shadow on the right arm and set the Opacity of the layer to 42% and change the Blending Mode of the layer to Hard Light.

Step 15

In this step we are going to add age old columns located by some distance from the character.

1) Import the image of the column on to the canvas and place it as shown.

2) Since it is located away from the scene add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.5px to maintain the DOF of the scene.

3) By using the Exposure Adjustment layer set the Gamma Correction to 0.80.

4) Now color correct the warrior using the curves Adjustment layer and set the Opacity of the Adjustment layer to 40%.

5) Now by using the Soft Brush paint dark shadow on the column as shown.

6) Similarly add another column in the scene. As we know that the object gets smaller by the increase in distance though they are of same size, hence make the second column small as shown using the Move Tool (V).

Step 16

In this step we are going to create a displacement plate for the flag that we will be creating in the next step.
1) Import the image of the flag into Photoshop and mask out the flag from the original image.

2) Now by using Hue/Saturation set the Saturation Level of the flag to -100.

3) Using the Exposure set Offset level to +0.0653 and Gamma Correction to 0.83.

4) To elevate the shadows set the Contrast level to 100 and Brightness to -1 using Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer. Then save the flag as a .PSD file.

Step 17

In this step we are going to create the custom designed flag to the scene.
1) Fill in Red color in the rectangular mask and then by using the Medieval Brushes paint the crossed key pair as shown.

2) With the flag layer selected go to Filters>Distort>Displace, then set Horizontal and Vertical Scale to 11. Then select the flag.psd which we created in the previous step and press OK.

3) Then cut the flag in the shape of the real flag.

4) Place the image of the real flag on the top of our custom flag and lower its Opacity to 57% and set the Blending Mode to Hard Light.

5) Merge both original and the painted flag together and create an Exposure Adjustment layer to it and set the Offset value to +0.0392 and Gamma Correction to 1.30.

Step 18

1) Import the image of the flag we created previously on to the working canvas and place it as shown behind the warrior.

2) Just for our convenience hide the warrior layer till we finish working with the flag. Now by using Exposure set the Offset value of the flag to -0.0340 and Gamma Correction to 1.00.

3) Now create another Exposure Adjustment layer to the flag and set the Exposure level to -0.51, Offset value to +0.0340 and Gamma Correction to 1.10.

Step 19

In this step we are going to create a flag pole from a street lamp.

1) Cut the pole of the street lamp using the Pen Tool (P) and import it on to the working canvas and place it near the flag as shown.

2) Using the Lasso Tool select only the pole leaving the design on the pole top. The by using the Move Tool (V) transform the pole as shown to make it look thin.

3) Now by using the Exposure set the Offset value of the flag pole to +0.0340 and set the Gamma Correction to 1.03.

4) Duplicate the flag pole and place it near the second flag as shown.

Step 20

In this step we are going to cut the dead branches without losing any of its details.

1) Import the image of the dead tree into Photoshop and select the Blue Layer from the Channels Pallet.

2) Then go to Image>Calculations and select Blue from the Channel drop down list and press OK. This will create an Alpha1 layer in the Channels Pallet.

3) With the Alpha 1 layer selected go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and set the levels as shown to make the branches into silhouette.

4) Now select the dead tree layer in the Layers pallet and go to Select>Load Selection and select Alpha 1 from the Channel drop down list and select OK. This will create a mask around the dead tree.

5) Using the mask erase the sky in the image.

Step 21

In this step we are going to place the dead tree in the scene.

1) Cut the image of the dead tree as shown into a new layer and import it on to the working canvas and place it as shown.

2) To maintain the DOF add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.9px to the dead tree.

Step 22

In this step we will be creating a fire bowl.
1) Import the image of the bowl on to the canvas and place it as shown.

2) Using the Curves color correct the bowl to match with the environment.

3) Now by using Hue/Saturation de-saturate the bowl to -60.

Step 23

In this step we are going to create the stand for the bowl.

1) Import the image of the logs into Photoshop and cut a log from the image using the Pen Tool (P). Then import the log on to the working canvas and place it as shown.

2) Create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the log and set the Gamma Correction level to 0.50.

3) Now by using Soft Round Brush paint shadow on the log, to blend perfectly with the environment lighting.

4) Similarly create a couple more logs to finish the stand.

Step 24

In this step we will be placing fire in the fire bowl.

1) Import the image of the fire and place it on the bowl as shown and set the Blending Mode of the image to Screen. (Make sure the fire layer is placed above rest of the layers).

2) To add the depth to the bowl and fire paint black color as shown on the bowl and behind the fire.

Step 25

In this step we are going to create the light glow on the edges of the bowl.

-Using the Eyedropper Tool (I) select the color of the fire and paint the fire glow on the edges of the bowl as shown. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Hard Light and Reduce the Opacity to 67%.

Step 26

In this step we are going to create the fire glow.

-Using the color #f87b1a paint the fire glow as shown and set the Blending Mode of the layer to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 16%.

Step 27

Now is the time for color correcting the whole scene to get the perfect cinematic look. We will be doing two color passes for the scene, this step covers the first color pass.

1) Create a Curves Adjustment layer above all the layers and set the curves as shown and lower the Opacity to 40%.

2) Now create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set Gamma Correction to 0.83.

3) To enhance the light and shadows create Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer and set the Contrast level to 34.

4) Again create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the RGB curve as shown.

Step 28

In step we are going to continue with the second color pass.

1) Create a Photo Filter Adjustment layer and select Black color and set the Density to 60%.

2) Now create Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and set Hue=36, Saturation=9 and Lightness=-4. Then lower the Opacity of the layer to 24%.

3) Now create Levels Adjustment layer and set the levels as shown and set the Opacity to 42%.

Step 29

In this step we are going to create sunrays casting from the right side of the scene.

1) Paint sharp cone shaped rays from the right side as shown and reduce the Opacity to 60%.

2) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 50.2px to get the desired effect.

Step 30

In this step we are going to add fire sparks flying around in the scene.

1) Import the image of the sparks on to the canvas and place it on the left side of the scene as shown and set the Blending Mode of the layer to Screen.

2) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 1.5px to the sparks layer.

3) Similarly add more sparks in the scene as shown.

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome.

Member File Download

Download the original .psd file for this tutorial here:

DOWNLOAD .PSD FILE

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