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In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create an autumnal landscape matte painting. You’ll learn how to combine different stocks together and blend them correctly using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. You’ll also learn some handy tips to work with lighting and shadow, how to arrange your layers and mange the groups, how create depth of field and more.

Final Image

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

Step 1

Create a new document and fill it with white, make the width bigger than the height. Open the sky 1 stock. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag this stock image into our white canvas and place it as shown below:

Don’t worry about the extra white part at the left side, we’ll cover it up later.

Step 2

Move the sky 2 onto the sky 1, change the mode to Hard Light 100%:

Step 3

To soften the sky 2, go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches and set the radius to 3 px:

Step 4

To add more contrast to the sky part, I used an adjustment layer. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves:

Step 5

Isolate the rock 1 and place it at the foreground:

Click the second button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft brush with black color to remove some parts of the rock as the image below shows:

Step 6

To add depth to the scene, go to Filter > Blur > Gassian Blur and set the radius to 6 px:

Step 7

Open the images of another rocks. Choose the image 2 and isolate the rock part, position it at the left of our picture:

I called it “rock 2″.

Step 8

Make a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N) and active the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove some of the plants shown below:

Step 9

Extract the rock 3 from the image 6 and place it at the left corner of the pic (beside the rock 2):

Add a mask to this layer. Use the soft black brush to blend the edge of this rock with the rock 2:

Step 10

To darken the rock 3 (we’ve placed it at the edge) , go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and check Clipping Mask options:

On this Curves layer mask use a soft brush with the opacity about 50% to erase the parts shown below:

Step 11

Make the rock 2, clone, rock 3 and Curves adjustment layers selected then press Cmd/Ctrl+G to group them. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance:

Step 12

I used two Curves adjustment layers within this group to add more contrast to the rocks:

Here are result of these layer masks and result on the picture:

Step 13

I used a Photo Filter adjustment layer to add warm color to the rocks:

Step 14

Drag the landscape photo into our main document, place it under the rocks group and above the rock 1 ones. Add a mask and use the soft brush to remove the sky and the mountain parts:

Apply Gassian Blur with 4 px to the landscape:

Step 15

Add a Curves adjustment layer with Clipping Mask to brighten the top of the landscape. On this Curves layer mask use the soft brush to erase the bottom and the sides of the landscape:

Step 16

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the color of the landscape:

Step 17

To make sunlight, create a new layer above the landscape ones and under the rocks group. Use a soft brush with the color #ffafb8 to paint on the right of the sky and change the mode to Overlay 100%:

Use its layer mask to erase the landscape and the rock 1 parts:

Step 18

On a new layer, take a soft brush with the color #ffba69 to paint within the light part. I altered the mode to Hard Light 50%. Then I duplicated this layer and set the mode to Overlay 100% to make a stronger highlight:

Step 19

Extract the waterfall and place it between the edges of the rock 2 and 3. I changed the mode to Screen 100%:

Set this layer above the rocks group.

Step 20

I used a Curves adjustment layer to darken the waterfall a little:

Step 21

Isolate the tower part from the castle 1 stock and put it onto the rock 2:

Use its layer mask to blend its bottom with the rock:

Step 22

Duplicate this layer twice and scale them down, place one in front of the tower 1 and the other onto the rock 3. Use their layer masks to blend them with the rocks and cut out their tops:

Step 23

To remove the green trees on the towers, I made a new layer with Clipping Mask for each of these layers and use the Clone Tool to remove them:

Step 24

Group the tower layers as done with the rocks. I named these layers from 1 to 3. Create a new layer between the layer 1 and 2 (the towers on the rock 2). Use the soft black brush with the opacity about 40-45% to paint the shadow of the front tower on the one behind:

Step 25

Make two Curves adjustment layers within the towers group to change their contrast. The first one is to darken the left and the second is to brighten the right:

On the layer masks, apply a masking to match the lightness and shade of the towers with the scene:

Step 26

Open the castle 2 stock photo and isolate it from the background. Copy two parts of the tops and place them above the towers. Use their layer masks to blend them with the rest:

Step 27

Make group for these parts as done with the rocks. To match their color with the towers I used two adjustment layers.

Hue/Saturation:

Color Balance:

Step 28

To refine the contrast of these parts I used two Curves adjustment layers:

Paint with the soft black brush on these Curves layer masks:

Step 29

Take a part from the arch 1 image and move it into our document:

Blend the left side of it with the rocks using the layer mask:

Step 30

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the saturation of the arch:

Use the soft black brush with the opacity 30-35% to erase some parts, especially the surface:

Step 31

I used Color Balance and Curves to change the color and darken the arch:

Step 32

I made a new layer, changed the mode to Overlay 100% and filled with 50% gray:

Use the Dodge Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to paint more light on the arch contour. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and result with Overlay mode:

Step 33

Open the stair image. First I copied the stair part into a new layer using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).

To remove unwanted details of this stair (plant, leaves), use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to make a selection:

Go to Edit > Fill and choose Content-Aware:

Continue using this method to refine the stair. The tip is using small selections (if you choose a large area, you might get the result with unwanted details). Here is my before/after screenshot:

Step 34

Place the stair after retouching beside the rock 2 and blend them together using a mask. Remember to set this layer under the towers groups.

I named this layer “stair part 1″.

Step 35

Open the arch 1 image again. Take a part from it and place it beside the right of the stair and transform it using Cmd/Ctrl+T:

Go to Edit > Puppet Warp and bend this part to fit the stair as shown below:

I called this layer “stair part 2″.

Step 36

Add a mask to this layer. On this layer mask, use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to define the edges between the part 1 and 2 which we need to remove, step by step ( look at some staircase photographs as a reference and it will help you to imagine better what you’re doing). Erase these parts with a basic brush:

Step 37

Come back to the part 1 layer. Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to change the color of this part:

Step 38

I made a Curves adjustment layer for this stair:

On this Curves layer mask use the soft brush to erase the left side of the stair. You can see the right darker showing the shadow of the part 2 on the part 1:

Step 39

Change the color of the part 2 with some adjustment layers (Hue/Saturation and Color Balance):

Step 40

Create two Curves adjustment layers to enhance the contrast of the part 2:

Paint on these Curves layer masks using the soft brush:

Step 41

Make a new layer with the same settings like in the step 32 but without Clipping Mask. Use the Dodge Tool to make a stronger rim light on the part 2 and the Burn Tool to darken the edges of the stair :

Step 42

Extract the ivies from the background. Copy a part of them and place it onto the bottom of the tower beside the stair:

Add a mask to this layer then change the brush to the grasses ones. Choose the number 199 (bush) then press F5 to change its settings:

Use it to erase the edges of the ivy part. Here is my result after erasing:

Step 43

Continue adding the ivies to the towers using the same method. I used 10 layers for this effect:

Step 44

Group the ivies layers. Use Hue/Saturation and Color Balance to turn the green of the ivies into the orange red:

Step 45

I used two Curves adjustment layers to add more contrast and match the lightness of the ivies with the rest:

Result with the masking:

Step 46

Right click the ivies group, choose Duplicate Group. Right click it again, choose Merge Group and we get a new layer with the ivies selection.. Place this layer under the ivies group.

Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click this layer thumbnail to load their selection:

Go to Edit > Fill (Shift+F5) and choose black color. Move this shadow to the left and lower the opacity to 40%:

Apply Gassian Blur with 2 px:

I used a layer mask to reduce the shadow intensity on the parts below:

Step 47

Make another ivies selection layer as done in previous step but place it above the ivies group. Turn off this layer. Create a new layer and load the ivies selection (Cmd/Ctrl+click the thumbnail). Use a soft brush with the color #f1ce9d to paint on the brighter parts of the ivies to make the sunlight reflection on them. Change the mode to Overlay 100%:

Step 48

Open the arch 2 image. Take a part from it and position it between the rock 2 and 3. Use a layer mask to blend it with the rocks and the towers:

Step 49

I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the saturation of the arch:

Step 50

Time for using Curves to correct the light and shade of the arch:

Step 51

Drag the tree 1 into our main document using the Move Tool. Position it behind the towers on the rock 2 and place this layer under the rocks group. Duplicate it and flip it horizontally (Edit >Transform > Flip Horizontal) then move it to the left:

Step 52

Group all these trees. Use Hue/Saturation to change their color:

Step 53

Use Curves to change the contrast of the trees:

Step 54

Make the trees 1 selection on a new layer as done with the ivies. Create a new layer above this one. Load the trees 1 selection and use a soft brush with the color #f1ce9d to paint on the trees. Turn the mode into Overlay 100%:

Step 55

Position the tree 2, 3, 4 at the three edges of the picture as shown below:

Apply Gassian Blur with 4 px and 8 px to the ones at the bottom edges:

Step 56

Double click the tree at the bottom right, choose Blending Options:

Step 57

I used a Curves adjustment layer (Clipping Mask) to brighten the top of the tree at the bottom left then erased its left side:

Step 58

Group these trees layers. Used Hue/Saturation and Photo Filter to add red to them:

Step 59

Create a Curves adjustment layer within this group:

Result after masking:

Step 60

Make the trees 2 selection as done with another elements. Create a new layer, load the trees 2 selection and use a soft brush with the color #f1ce9d to make light on the trees. Alter the mode to Overlay 100%:

Step 61

Extract the model and place her onto the stair:

Step 62

Copy a part from her coat (in the original stock) and add it to the working document. Use the Warp Tool (Edit >Transform >Warp) to bend it as shown below:

I made a new layer with Clipping Mask, used the Clone Tool to remove an unwanted part on this coat part:

Step 63

Add another coat part to the model:

Step 64

Make a new layer under the model one. Use a soft brush with black color, lower the opacity to 60% to paint the shadow under the model:

Step 65

Make a new layer under the model one. Load the selection of the model and coat (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift +click) and fill it with black. Flip it vertically (Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical) and move it behind the model:

Lower its opacity to 70% and use a layer mask to reduce the shadow intensity at the top and the side:

Apply Gassian Blur with 3 px to this shadow, then on Filter Mask use the black brush to erase the part nearer the model to keep it harder than the rest:

Step 66

Group the model, the coats and the shadow ones. I used Hue/Saturation, Color Balance and Curves to match the model with the scene:

Erase the model head on the Curves layer mask to keep it bright:

Step 67

On a new layer within the model group, use the soft brush with the color #f1ce9d to paint on the front of the model, also on the coat contour. I changed the mode to Hard Light 100%:

Step 68

Extract the leaves from the original stock then arrange them over the picture. You need to duplicate, rotate, resize… them use the transform tools, try to achieve a random effect. I applied Gassian Blur with 4 px to the bigger leaves, and the highest with 8 px:

Step 69

Group the leaves layers. I used Color Balance and Curves to change the color and lightness of the leaves:

Work on this Curves layer mask to reduce the light on the leaves near the foreground:

Step 70

Make the leaves selection. On a new layer on the top, load the leaves selection and use the soft brush with the color #f1ce9d, the opacity about 40-70% to paint more light on the leaves. Keep the mode as Normal 100%:

Step 71

Make the towers and rocks selection as done with another elements. Then merge two these layers and name it “1″ or whatever you want.

Step 72

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on the top of the layers:

Lower the opacity of this Gradient Map adjustment layer to 20%, also use the soft brush to erase the area of the sunlight:

Step 73

Use Color Balance, Photo Filter and Selective Color to change the color of the whole scene:

Step 74

Load the selection of the layer 1 (step 71), then on a new layer, use the soft brush with color #f1ce9d to paint on the towers, the rocks, the arch, the stairs. Change the mode to Overlay 100%:

Step 75

Create a new layer, use this soft brush with the color #ffafb8 to paint on some parts of the rocks and the towers, then alter the mode to Color 15%:

Step 76

In this step we’ll add more light to the rock 3. Make two new layers on the top. On the first I used the color #f1ce9d and on the second I changed the color to #d4c58b. Set the mode of the first layer to Overlay 100% and the second to Soft Light 100%:

Step 77

Make a new layer again and I used the color #f1ce9d to create more light for the whole scene. I set the mode to Soft Light 100%:

Step 78

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the top:

Erase the left side with the soft brush:

Step 79

Use Selective Color to change the blue of the sky a little:

Step 80

I used Levels to increase the contrast of the scene:

Erase the lower parts:

Step 81

To change the light focus a little, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient:

Change the mode of this Gradient Fill layer to Overlay 100%. Apply masking on its layer mask:

Step 82

Final step: I used a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the color and the contrast of the scene:

Apply masking on the selected parts below:

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.

Download the Source File for This Tutorial

Download the original .psd file you need to complete this tutorial:

DOWNLOAD .PSD FILE

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