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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!
As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:
Create a new document in Photoshop with the given settings:
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:
I used an adjustment layer to darken the sky. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves:
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:
I used an adjustment layer with Clipping Mask to reduce the mountains saturation a little:
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:
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:
I used Hue/Saturation for these mountains:
I used Color Balance to add some cyan/blue to these mountains:
You can see that the mountains contrast does not fit the dark background. I used a Curves adjustment layer to solve it:
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:
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:
I used Hue/Saturation for these mountains:
I used Curves to darken them:
Add the mountains 4 image to our main document:
Mask off some parts of the image to get a similar result like below:
I used Curves to increase the contrast of these mountains.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to match their color with the background:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
I used Hue/Saturation for this castle:
I used Photo Filter to add some subtle cyan to the castle:
The castle looks too bright so I used Curves to decrease its lightness:
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%:
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:
Apply the Outer Glow effect for each red light layer:
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:
It’s time for coloring the whole scene. Make a Color Balance adjustment layer on the top:
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:
Final step : Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the whole color:
You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed the tutorial.
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