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Members Area Tutorial: Create a Stunningly Detailed Matte Painting Landscape

In this tutorial we will be creating an Assassin’s Creed inspired scene where the assassin stands on the top of a building watching over the city.

This tutorial covers topics like,

-In depth explanation of the New Blur Tools and using them effectively in the scene.
-Digital set extension production techniques.
-Advanced Lighting.
-Matte Painting techniques using reference images.
-Cinematic Color correction using adjustment layers, layer masks and Gradients.
-Creating custom building structures.

Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Create a new canvas in Photoshop with the dimensions Width=2560px and Height=1440px.

Step 2

In this step we are going to setup the city background.

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

2) Now import the distant hills of the cityscape and place the layer beneath the city layer.

Step 3

In this step we will be color correcting the city layer.

1. Create an Adjustment layer of Hue/Saturation to the city layer and set the Saturation level to +14.

2. Now create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the Red and RGB curve as shown to enhance the shadows of the city.

3. Now create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer to the Hills layer and set the Hue level to 52 and Saturation level to 25. Then set the Opacity of the adjustment layer to 41%.

4. Create a Curves adjustment layer to the hills layer and set the Red and RGB curves as shown.

Step 4

In this step we are going to create the roof on which the assassin would be standing.

1. Import the image of the rooftop on to the working canvas and place it as shown on the right side bottom corner.

2. Create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Offset level to +0.0041.

3. Now by using the Curves Adjustment layer color correct the rooftop to blend with the scene.

Step 5

In this step we will be digitally paint the hills, as our original hills are not long enough to fill the scene.

1. Using the color #789fd2 paint the hills as shown in a new layer. Make sure to place this layer below the hills layer.

2. Usually the far away objects appear to be covered in a thin fog, which we can observe in the original image of the cityscape we used. Hence using the color #789fd2 paint the fog in a new layer and set the Opacity of the layer to 73%.

3. Group all the digitally painted layers of the hill into a folder. Then create an Adjustment layer to the Hill Paint folder and set the Hue level to 52 and Saturation to 25. Now set the Opacity of the adjustment layer to 41%.

4. Now create a Curves Adjustment layer to the hill paint folder and set the Red and RGB curves as shown.

Step 6

In this step we are going to setup a sunset sky to the scene.

1. Import the image of the sunset sky on to the working canvas and place it as shown in the scene. Make sure to place the sunset sky layer beneath the cityscape layer.

2. Duplicate the sunset sky layer and fill the scene as shown.

3. Now merge all the sunset sky layers and then by using the soft round Eraser erase the upper part of sky as shown.

4. Now import the image of the blue sky on to the canvas and place the layer beneath the sunset sky layer and position it as shown.

Step 7

While working on the environments it is very essential to remember the working of the natural elements. Since this is a sunset scene we are going to add the moon in the sky merging out slightly as the sun is going down.

1. Import the image of the moon on to the canvas and place it on the right side of the scene as shown.

2. Now reduce the Opacity of the layer to 53%.

3. Now create a Curves Adjustment layer to the moon layer and set the curves as shown to blend with the sky in the scene.

Step 8

In this step we will be adding a gargoyle in the scene.

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

2. Create a Curves Adjustment layer and to the gargoyle and set the curves as shown to blend it with the environment of the scene.

Step 9

In this step we are going to create a base to the gargoyle.

1. Cut the wall from the image resource image. Cut only the portion that is marked in red color. Then import the image on to the working canvas and transform it as shown.

2. Now cut the border design from the same resource image we used in the previous step and place it on the intersection point of the gargoyle and the base.

3. Merge both the base and the border design layers and create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown.

4. Now by using the Exposure Adjustment layer set the Exposure to -1.21, Offset level to -0.0082 and Gamma Correction level to 0.31.

Step 10

In this step we are going to do some final adjustments to the gargoyle layer.

1. With the gargoyle layer selected go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 3px to maintain the DOF of the scene which make the scene look more natural and convincing.

2. Again create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Gamma Correction to 0.86.

Step 11

In this step we are going to add the assassin to the scene, standing on the top of the roof.

1. Cut the image of the assassin from the original image using the Pen Tool (P) and import it on to the working canvas and position the assassin on the top of the roof as shown.

2. Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer to the assassin layer and set the Saturation level to -11.

3. Now create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown to blend the assassin with the environment of the scene.

4. Using the Exposure Adjustment layer set the Offset level to +0.0041.

Step 12

In this step we are going to create the sunlight glow on the assassin.

1. Duplicate the image of the assassin and create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Exposure level to +0.82.

2. Now reduce the Opacity of the Assassin copy layer to 64%.

Step 13

In this we are going to work on the set extension. We will be creating new structures in the scene.

1. Cut the image of the spire from the original image and position it in the working canvas as shown.

2. In order to keep up with the DOF of the scene add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.5px to the spire.

-You can take the surrounding buildings of the tower as reference while adding the Gaussian Blur.

Step 14

In this step we will be creating another spire in the scene.

1. Duplicate the image of the previously created spire and place it on the left side of the scene as shown.

2. Using the Curves Adjustment layer color correct the spire 2 layer.

3. Now create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the spire 2 layer and set the Offset level to +0.0124.

4. To keep up with the DOF of the scene add a Gaussian blur of Radius 0.8px to the spire 2.

5. Similarly using the previous steps creating another spire to the scene as shown below.

6. Group all the spire layers into a single folder and create a Curves Adjustment layer and set the Red curve as shown.

Step 15

In this step we are going to create a dome located closer to the roof on which the assassin is standing.

1. Cut the image of the dome from the resource image and position it on the right side of the scene. The by using the Curves Adjustment layer color correct the dome as shown to blend with the scene’s environment.

2. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.7px to the dome to maintain the DOF.

Step 16

In this step we are going to paint birds flying around in the scene.

1. Using the Birds Brush paint the birds as shown flying around the dome.

2. Now add a Gaussian blur of Radius 0.7px to the birds layer.

3. Similarly paint few more flock of birds flying around in the scene as shown.

-While adding the Gaussian blur to the birds take the surrounding as reference to get perfect Depth Of Field (DOF).

Step 17

In this step we will be moving on to the second stage of set extension by extending the cityscape by adding more buildings located far away from the assassin.

1. Import the image of the far away structures on to the working canvas and place them as shown. Make sure to place the layer beneath the spire folder. Group the layer into a folder and name it as domes.

2. Now color correct the domes layer using the Curves Adjustment layer.

3. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 1.0px to the domes layer.

Step 18

In this step we are going to create a giant structure located far away in the scene.

1. Import the image of the Istanbul Temple on to the working canvas and position it in the scene as shown.

2. Now create a new layer above the temple layer and fill the color #7b97c4 in the exact shape of the temple. Then hide the main temple layer.

3. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 2.2px to the temple color layer.

Step 19

In this step we will be working on the final details of the Istanbul Temple structure.

1. First unhide the Temple layer and Add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 2.2px.

2. Then reduce the Opacity of the temple layer to 24%.

Step 20

In this step we are going to create a new structure using the texture of another structure.

1. Draw a rough sketch of the model structure we want to create in a new layer.

2. Now import the image of the Big Ben tower on to the canvas. We ill be using its texture to build our structure.
-Cut the front portion of the big ben tower and place it on the front side of our structure.

3. Now duplicate the front texture and complete the front portion of the structure.

4. Similarly complete the side portion too.

Step 21

In this step we are going to color correct the structure.

1. Merge all the structure layers and add a Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown.

2. Now add Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and set the Saturation level to -26.

3. Now by using the Exposure Adjustment layer set the Offset level to +0.0248.

4. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.6px to the structure.

Step 22

In this step we are going to create the dome on the top of the structure.

1. Cut the dome from the cityscape into a new layer and position it on the top of the previously created tower.

2. Now merge both the tower and the dome layers and add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.6px.

3. Now by using the Exposure Adjustment layer to the tower layer set the Offset level to +0.0164.

Step 23

In this step we are going to create the chimney located closer to the scene.

1. Cut the top portion of the “roof” layer Chimney into a new layer and position it closer to the scene as shown.

2. Now paint two chimney outlets in a new layer as shown.

3. Now by using the Soft Round brush, paint the sunshade on the outlets.

4. Merge all the chimney layers and add a Gaussian blur of Radius 6.1px.

Step 24

In this step we are going to create the roof to the chimney we created in the previous step.

1. Cut the image of the roof from the original image and position it in the scene as shown in front of the chimney.

2. Now import the image of the antenna and place it on the roof.

3. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 6.1px to both the roof and the antenna.

Step 25

In this step we are going to add Zeppelins flying in the sky.

1. Import the image of the Zeppelin on to the working canvas and flip it horizontally then position it as shown.

2. Using the Exposure Adjustment layer set the Offset value of the zeppelin to +0.0454.

3. Then add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.8px.

4. Similarly add another Zeppelin in the scene as shown.

5. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.6px to the second Zeppelin.

Step 26

Add an antenna to the chimney on which the assassin is standing.

Step 27

With Photoshop CS6 Adobe has introduced Three NEW Blur option 1) Field Blur (2) Iris Blur and (3) Tilt Shift. In this step we are going to use the Field Blur.

About Field Blur: Using Field Blur we can control and set different blur levels in the scene as per our requirement by setting up multiple blur points.

-Select the Roof layer and go to Filter>Blur>Field Blur and set a Blur point (Blur Point1) on the right side bottom corner and set its blur level to 6px. The set another blur point (Blur Point2) on the edge of the chimney and set its blur level to 0px.

Step 28

In this step we are going to create the sunglow and sunrays from the left side of the scene.

1. Create a new layer on the top of all the layers and paint the sunglow on the top left corner as shown using the yellow color. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Screen.

2. Now import the image of the lens flare and place the layer beneath the sunglow layer. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Screen.

3. Create a new layer and paint the sunrays as shown with yellow color.

4. Then reduce the Opacity of the rays layer to 56%.

5. Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius of Radius 63.5 to the sunrays layer.

Step 29

This step is the first pass of our scene color correction.

1. Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and set the Saturation level to -42.

2. Now create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Exposure to +0.33, Offset to +0.0006 and set the Gamma Correction to 0.93. Then set it Opacity to 40%.

3. Now by using the Curves Adjustment layer color correct the scene as shown.

4. Again create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and set the Hue level to 211 and set the Saturation level to 17. Then set the Opacity of the adjustment layer to 68%.

5. Create another Curves Adjustment layer and set the curves as shown.

6. Now create another Exposure layer and set the Gamma Correction to 0.75.

7. Finally create another Curves Adjustment layer and set the RGB curve as shown.

Step 30

This step is the second pass of our color correction process. Before jumping into the process export the scene in .jpg format. Then open the image file of the scene in Photoshop.

1. Create a new layer attached with layer mask and fill the layer with color #a46254. Then reduce the Opacity of the layer to 80% and set the Blending Mode of the layer to Soft Light. Now merge the layer with the scene layer.

2. Now fill the scene with the gradient as shown with its properties Style=Radial, Angle=43.96 and Scale150%. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Soft Light and Reduce the Opacity to 40%.

3. Create a new layer attached with layer mask and fill it with the color #3b302d. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Hue and Reduce the Opacity to 40%.

4. Now fill the scene with the color #2e2321 in a new layer and set its Blending Mode to Lighten and reduce its Opacity to 10%.

5. Repeat the previous step with a new layer filled with the color #26110c.

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

7. Fill a new layer with the color #b18e10 and set its Blending Mode to Hue and reduce the Opacity to 20%.

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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