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Members Area Tutorial: Learn How to Produce an Elaborate Matte Painting

In this tutorial we will be creating a fantasy landscape with a cloudy environment.

This tutorial covers the key topics of cinematic Matte Painting.

-Concept sketching.
-Prepare and organize resources.
-Water replacement.
-Digital Painting for color correction.
-Very accurate and detailed cutting of palm leaves.

Creating a Fantasy Landscape

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. Then draw a rough sketch of the concept in a new layer.

Step 2

In this step we are going to create the hill on which the tower is located.

1) Import the image of the rocky hill on to the canvas and place it as shown. Then by using the Lasso Tool (L) cut the hill into the shape as designed in the concept.

2) To eliminate the bright light we are going to place another hill texture on the previously created hill. Import the image of the hill texture and place it on the hill layer as shown. Then create a Layer mask to the texture layer and fill it with black, now by using soft brush with white color selected reveal the parts of the texture as shown by painting on the Layer Mask.

Step 3

In this step we are going to create mountains in the background.

1) Import the image of a hill on to the canvas and place it on the left side of the scene as shown behind the tower hill. Name the layer as ‘hill 1′.

2) Now import another hill image and place it on the right side of the scene. Name this layer as ‘hill 2′.

3) To blend the hill 2 layer with the other hills create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the layer and set the Gamma Correction to 0.73.

4) Now create a Hue/Saturation layer to the ‘hill 2′ layer and set the Saturation level to -63.

5) Import another hills layer and place it behind the hill 2 layer and cut the hill in the shape as sketched in the concept using a Lasso Tool (L).

Step 4

In this step we are going to add the sky and sandy shore to the scene.

1) Import the image of the sandy beach on to the canvas and place it as shown beneath hill layers.

2) Now import the image of the dark cloudy sky and place it as shown.

3) Create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the beach layer and set the Exposure to -0.51 and Gamma Correction to 0.87.

4) De-Saturate the beach layer to -32 using Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer.

Step 5

In this step we are going to color correct the Tower hill layer.

1) Group all the tower hill layers into a single folder and create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the folder. Then set the Offset value to +0.0174 and Gamma Correction level to 1.08.

2) Now create Selective Color Adjustment layer to the tower hill folder and select White from the Colors drop-down list and set Cyan level to +83, Black=+18 and set Magenta and Yellow to +100.

3) By using the Hue/Saturation set the Saturation level to -76 and Lightness to -23.

4) Create a new layer above the tower hill layer and fill the color #2b27720 in the shape of the tower hill. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 64%.

Step 6

In this step we are going to color correct the Hill 1 layer.

1) Using the Lasso Tool (L) select a mask in the shape of the trees, then create an Exposure Adjustment layer to the hill 1 layer. By doing so Layer Mask will be created only for the trees. Now set the Exposure level to +1.97, Offset=+0.0204 and Gamma Correction to 0.81.

2) Now select a random mask on the left side of the hill 1 as shown, then create an Exposure Adjustment layer and set the Exposure level to -1.28.

3) Create a Curves adjustment layer to the hill 1 layer and set the RGB curves as shown.

4) Now by using Hue/Saturation de-saturate the hill 1 to -57.

5) Now create a new layer above the hill 1 layer and fill in with the color #272521 in the shape of the hill 1. Then set the Blending mode of the layer to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 70%.

6) Create another new layer above the hill 1 layer and paint the color #575f64 on the distant hills as shown.

Step 7

In this step we will be color correcting hill 2.
1) Create a new layer above the hill 2 layer and fill it with the color #3a3731 in the shape of the hill 2. Then set the Opacity of the layer to 49%.

2) Now duplicate the previous layer and set the Blending Mode to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 19%.

3) Using the Stamp Tool (S) clone the trees as shown.

Step 8

In this step we will be color correcting the hill 3 layer.

1) Create an Exposure adjustment layer to the hill 3 layer and set the Gamma Correction level to 1.13.

2) Using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer set the Saturation level of the hill 3 layer to -63.

3) Fill the color #575e60 in the shape of hill 3 in a new layer placed above the hill 3 layer. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to 66%.

Step 9

In this step we will be adding base to the hills.

1) Import the image of the shore into Photoshop and erase the unwanted part of the image as shown using the Eraser Tool (E).

2) Now import the image of the shore on to the working canvas and flip it horizontally. Then place it as shown at the bottom of the tower hill. Name the layer as “Base Rocks”.

3) Create an Exposure adjustment layer to the base rocks layer and set the Exposure level to +0.40 and Gamma Correction to 1.16.

4) Now by using the Curves adjustment layer pull down the Blue curve as shown.

5) De-Saturate the base rocks to -93 using Hue/Saturation.

6) Similarly create another base rocks layer at the bottom of the hill 3 layer as shown.

Step 10

By using the Fog brush, paint the fog as shown.

Note: For every hill layer paint the fog in different layers and place them above the respective hill layer.

Step 11

In this step we are going to add a Light House in the scene.

1) Import the image of the Light House on to the working canvas and place it on the right side of the scene as shown.

2) Now create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the lighthouse layer and set the Saturation level to -36 and Lightness to -11.

3) Using the Curves adjustment layer color correct the lighthouse as shown.

4) With Exposure adjustment layer to the light house, set the Exposure level to -0.17.

5) Now create a new layer over the lighthouse and paint the shadow on the right side of the lighthouse as shown.

6) Create a new layer above the light house layer and paint the layer with the color #1a1e23 in the shape of the lighthouse. Then set the Blending Mode of the layer to Subtract.

7) Create another Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation level to -54.

8) Using another Exposure adjustment layer set the Offset level to +0.0028.

9) Now create a Curves adjustment layer and set the RGB curves as shown.

Step 12

Create a new layer on the top of the layers pallet and paint the fog as shown, using the fog brush.

Step 13

In this step we are going to replace the lake’s water surface.

1) Cut the water texture from the lighthouse stock image and place it on the working canvas as shown.

2) Now duplicate the water layer and spread it over the entire water surface of the scene as shown.

3) Group all the water layers into a single folder and create a Curves adjustment layer to the folder and set the RGB curves as shown.

4) Now create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the water folder and set the Saturation level to -21.

5) Using the fog brush paint more fog over the water surface as shown in a new layer.

Step 14

In this step we are going to add bushes placed closer to the scene.

1) Using the Lasso Tool (L) create an accurate mask around the bush as shown and separate the selection into a new layer.

2) Now import the bush on to the working canvas and place it on the left and right bottom corners of the scene as shown.

3) Merge both the bush layers and add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 6.3px.

4) Create an Exposure adjustment layer to the bushes layer and set the Exposure level to -1.86 and Gamma Correction to 0.77.

5) Set the RGB curves of the bushes layer as shown using the Curves adjustment layer.

6) Now de-saturate the bushes to -57 using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Step 15

In this step we are going to use the advanced image cutting technique to the cut the palm leafs with very fine details. Then we will be placing a palm tree leaf in the scene.

1) Import the image of the palm tree into Photoshop and select Blue layer from the Channels pallet. Then go to Image>Calculations and select Blue from the Source 1 and 2 Channel drop-down lists. This creates an Alpha1 layer in the Channels pallet.

2) With the Alpha1 layer selected go to image>Adjustments>Levels and set the levels as shown.

3) Now switch back to layers pallet and go to Select>Load Selection and select Alpha1 from the Channel drop-down list and press OK. This creates a mask around the palm tree. Using the mask erase the BG of the palm tree image.

4) Now cut a palm leaf from the image and place it as shown on the working canvas as shown on the right top corner.

5) To maintain the Depth Of Field of the image add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 4.7px to the palm leaf.

Step 16

In this step we are going to add few more palm leaves in the scene.

1) Using the cutting technique used in step15 cut another palm tree image and import the leaves on to the working canvas and place them on the left side of the scene as shown. Then add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 2.1px.

2) Set the Gamma Correction of the palm leaves to 0.93 using the Exposure adjustment layer.

3) Using the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer de-saturate the palm leaves layer to -48.

Step 17

In this step we are going to place the tower on the tower hill.

1) Cut the image of the tower and import it on to the working canvas and place it on the top of the tower hill as shown.

2) Now de-saturate the tower by -43 using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

3) Since it is a cloudy scene the elements of the scene appear slightly bluish. Hence slightly raise the Blue curve as shown using the Curves adjustment layer.

4) Now select a mask on the right side of the tower and set the feather of the mask to 35. Then create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to the tower layer and set the Brightness level to -40.

5) Now create another Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and set the Brightness Level to -8.

6) To enhance the shadows of the tower create an Exposure adjustment layer and set the Exposure level to -0.75 and Gamma Correction to 0.93.

Step 18

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

1) Create a new layer and paint the birds as shown over the tower layer as shown using the birds brush.

2) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.4px to the birds layer.

Step 19

In this step we are going to add a couple of plants near the tower grown from the hill.

1) Using the cutting technique used in step 15 cut the two Bonsai plants and place them near the tower as shown.

2) Create an Exposure adjustment layer to the ‘Bonsai plant 1′ and set the Exposure=-2.26, Offset=+0.0175 and Gamma Correction=0.81.

3) Now de-saturate the Bonsai plant 1 layer to -78 using Hue/Saturation.

4) With the Bonsai plant 2 layer selected go to Image>Adjustments>Exposure and set the Exposure to -1.96 and Gamma Correction to 0.70.

5) Now de-saturate the plant 2 layer by -79 using Hue/Saturation.

6) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.4px to both the plant layers.

Step 20

In this step we are going to add the glow in the sky which acts as the primary source of light in the scene.

1) Create a new layer above the sky layer and paint the light glow as shown using the clouds brush.

2) Now create a new layer above the tower layer and paint the white light over the tower as shown.

Step 21

In this step we are going to create a wooden ramp in the scene.

1) Cut the image of the ramp and place it in the scene as shown.

2) Create a rough mask by the bottom end of the ramp as shown and set the mask feather to 40. Then add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 4.1px.

3) Now cut one of the ramp posts and place it as shown in the scene.

4) Since the post is located near the bushes it should probably be under their shade, hence we need to make it look dark. So create an Exposure adjustment layer to the ramp post and set the Exposure level to -1.97 and Gamma Correction to 0.88.

5) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 5.1px to the ramp post.

6) Similarly create another ramp post on the left side of the ramp as shown.

Step 22

In this step we are going to color correct the ramp to blend it with the environment of the scene.

1) Using the exposure to the ramp, set the Exposure level to -0.34 and Gamma Correction to 0.73.

2) Now by using the Curves set the RGB curves of the ramp as shown.

3) Select a mask at the bottom of the ramp as shown with feather 40. Then create an Exposure adjustment layer and set the Exposure level to -0.47 and Gamma Correction to 0.85.

Step 23

In this step we are going to place a human character in the scene.

1) Import the image of the Pirate women on to the working canvas and place the image on the ramp as shown.

2) Create a new layer beneath the women layer. Then by using the Soft Round Brush paint the shadow of the women as shown.

3) Now create a new layer above the pirate women layer and paint the dark shadow on the right side of the women as shown.

4) Now create a new layer above the previously created shadow layer and paint the fog as shown covering the women.

5) Using the Rain brush paint the rain as shown with the White color selected.

Step 24

In this step we are going to color correct the whole scene using the Adjustment layers.

1) Create an Exposure adjustment layer on the top of the Layers Pallet and set the Exposure level to -0.86.

2) Now create Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and set the Brightness level to 21 and Contrast level to 18.

3) Using the Curves adjustments layer set the RGB curves as shown.

4) Now create another Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and set the Brightness to 27 and Contrast to 23.

Step 25

in this step we are going to create a palace in-between the hills.

1) Import the image of the Disney palace on to the working canvas and place it behind the hill 2 layer.

2) Now create a new layer above the palace layer and fill it with the color #363e49 in the shape of the palace and reduce the Opacity of the layer to 51%.

3) Merge both the palace and color layers and create an Exposure adjustment layer to it and set the Offset to +0.0217 and Gamma Correction to 1.09.

4) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.6 to the palace.

Step 26

In this step we are going to paint waves and place a flag to the ramp.

1) Create a new layer above the water layer and paint the waves as shown using the waves brushes.

2) Using the advanced cutting techniques used in step15 cut the flag from its BG and import it on to the working canvas and place it as shown beside the women.

3) De-Saturate the flag by -54 using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

4) Now by using the Hard round brush paint the flag post 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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