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Create a Dark Landscape Matte Painting with Photoshop

Hey PSDFANs,

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a misty landscape matte painting with a dark castle. We’ll create a misty scene with the layered mountains and the light from afar. The main technique here is blending with adjustment layers, masking and brushes. There are something basic you should know about contrast, distance, intensity etc, and we’ll dive into all of those in today’s lesson!

Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the given settings:

Step 2

Open the sky image. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag it into our white canvas, use the Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to enlarge it as shown below:

Step 3

I used an adjustment layer to darken the sky. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves:

Step 4

Drag the mountains 1 image into our main document and place it as shown below:

Click the second button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a basic, soft brush with black color to erase its sky and mountain part as the screenshot below shows:

Step 5

I used an adjustment layer with Clipping Mask to reduce the mountains saturation a little:

Step 6

I used Curves (Clipping Mask) to darken the mountains:

On this layer mask use a soft black brush with a very low opacity (10-15%) to reduce the effect on the top of the mountains:

Step 7

Isolate the mountains 2 image and place it in the foreground:

Add a layer mask and use a soft black brush with a very low opacity (10-15%) to erase the top of the mountains as shown below:

Step 8

I used Hue/Saturation for these mountains:

Step 9

I used Color Balance to add some cyan/blue to these mountains:

Step 10

You can see that the mountains contrast does not fit the dark background. I used a Curves adjustment layer to solve it:

Step 11

Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

Active the Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to darken a part on the top of a mountain. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

Step 12

Open the mountains 3 image. Place it over the working document as shown below:

Use a layer mask to blend it with another mountains, we need the layered mountains on the left:

Step 13

I used Hue/Saturation for these mountains:

Step 14

I used Curves to darken them:

Step 15

Add the mountains 4 image to our main document:

Mask off some parts of the image to get a similar result like below:

Step 16

I used Curves to increase the contrast of these mountains.

Step 17

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to match their color with the background:

Step 18

We’ll make some mist to add some depth to the scene. Open the sky image. Use the Retangular Marquee Tool (M) to choose a sky part:

Place it at the right edge of the image, also set this layer between the mountains 1 and 2 ones:

Add a layer mask and use a soft black brush to remove the hard edges and leaves some smoke/mist between the mountains layers.

Step 19

Duplicate this layer and move it to the left. Use a layer mask to reduce the clouds opacity and make the mist effect more subtle:

Step 20

Duplicate this layer again and place it between the mountains 2 and 3 ones. Use a layer mask to create some mist between these layers:

Step 21

Take another sky part and place it in the foreground, also set this layer above the mountains ones:

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to create some subtle mist effect for the foreground:

Step 22

Isolate the castle from its background and place it on the top of the mountain near the middle.

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to blend the castle with the mountain:

Step 23

I used Hue/Saturation for this castle:

Step 24

I used Photo Filter to add some subtle cyan to the castle:

Step 25

The castle looks too bright so I used Curves to decrease its lightness:

Step 26

The castle does not look blended well with the misty mountains so I used a Color Fill layer to fix it. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick a dark brown color (#343c45):

Lower this layer opacity to 70%:

Step 27

Make a new layer on the top. Use the Retangular Marquee Tool to select a window of the castle and set the feather radius to 2:

Fill it (Shift+F5) with a red color (ff0000):

Duplicate it several times and arrange them randomly on the windows, transform them if needed:

Step 28

Apply the Outer Glow effect for each red light layer:

Step 29

Make two new layers on the top. Change the brush to the birds ones and the color to #010b15. Choose the birds you like and paint them on the top of the mountains, around the castle top:

Step 30

It’s time for coloring the whole scene. Make a Color Balance adjustment layer on the top:

Step 31

I used Curves to increase the contrast a little:

On this layer mask use a soft black brush with the opacity about 20-30% to reduce the dark of the middle:

Step 32

Final step : Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the whole color:

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial.

Get deeper insight into the workflow and techniques used in this tutorial. Access the source files for this tutorial:

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About the Author:

Thank you for reading this tutorial, I hope that you enjoyed it. If you want to view my other arts and tutorials you can look at my Deviantart page or follow me on Facebook.

Leave a comment

6 Comments:

  1. Kristina Hughes says:

    Nice tutorial! Each and every step clearly explore no any confusion to follow it.. Thanks!!

  2. i like this tutorial.
    mysterious castle :-)

  3. Enamul Hoq says:

    wonderful tutorial and Awesome painting using photoshop …thanks

  4. Deona says:

    OMG!! It’s great. I hope i can do this too. Thanks for sharing :) )

  5. Wanda TN says:

    Oh My God! This is so cool!!! >__<
    Once again, thankyou!

    Love from Bali,Wanda :)

  6. Mim says:

    Thank you so much for this! Keep it up with the patiently explained tutorials and don’t get discouraged by no comments on your posts. Thanks again!!!

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