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Start Your Journey Into the Imaginative World of Matte Painting

Start Your Journey Into the Imaginative World of Matte Painting

Matte painting is a great skill for any creative to have. It’s a really effective way to learn skills like photo manipulation and blending, all whilst honing your ‘realism’ skills.

Generally at PSDFAN we love creating big fantasy inspired outcomes that look awesome, but aren’t all that realistic.

However, sometimes it’s good to get our feet firmly back on the ground and focus on the subtle art of digital realism. This involves stuff like light sources, perspective and color matching. This kind of design doesn’t have to be boring though! In fact, it can be a lot of fun being able to create entirely new scenes and landscape. You can really kick your creative imagination into gear and think outside the box. Get creative – do you want to transform a farmyard landscape into a sprawling futuristic city. Within reason, you can truly creative anything you desire.

What You’ll Be Creating:

In today’s lesson you’ll be creating this scenic, cinematic looking landscape, by combining a lot of different source files. The end result will be pretty believable, but in true PSDFAN form we’ll also be throwing some futuristic floating machines into the mix ;) . Hey, with the power of Photoshop at our fingers why not?

Here’s a look at the outcome you’ll be able to produce by the end of this lesson:

Here’s a look at the images we’ll be combining to create our masterpiece.

Ready to begin? Great, let’s get started!

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Create a new canvas in Photoshop and draw a rough sketch of the city skyline concept.

Step 2

Import the image of the base image of the city skyline on to the canvas. Make sure to cut the sky from the image before importing it on to the working canvas.

Step 3

In this step we are going to create sky in the scene.

1) Import the image of the sky on to the working canvas and place the layer under the city layer.

2) Now select the Stamp Tool (S) and set the ‘Clone Sample Mode’ to current and below. Then create a new layer above the sky layer and paint out the gaps in the sky as shown.

3) Create a new layer under the sky layer and paint the color #8edafa.

4) Now duplicate the sky layer and place it as shown on the top of the scene.

Step 4

In this step we are going to create few distant hills in the scene.

1) Import the image of a hill on to the working canvas and place it on the right side of the scene as shown and place the layer under the city layer.

2) Similarly place another hill image on the left side of the scene.

3) Now import the image of snow covered mountains and place them behind the second hill image as shown.

4) Create a new layer above the city layer and paint the fog covering the hills as shown with the color #8edafa with Brush Pressure set to 19%.

Step 5

In this step we are going to create a castle on the top of the hill.

1) Import the image of the hill top castle on to the canvas and flip it horizontally to match with the lighting of the scene. Then place it on the top of the right hill. Make sure the castle layer is placed under the previously created fog layer.

2) By using the Curves adjustment layer slightly increase the level of Blue curve as shown.

3) Now by using the Exposure adjustment layer set the Offset value to +0.0174 and Gamma Correction to 1.75.

Step 6

In this step we are going to create a castle bridge.

1) Cut the arches from the castle image into a new layer as shown.

2) Now duplicate the arch layer and move it adjacent to the primary arch layer as shown.

3) Cut the base of the arch layer into a new layer and erase them on the main layer. Now Cut the portion of the pillars on to a new layer and move them downwards, then place the previously cut base image to the bottom of the extended pillars as shown.

Step 7

In this step we are going to make the bridge look extending from the hill top castle.

1) Place the previously created bridge beside the hill top castle as shown in the scene.

2) Follow step 6 to extend the pillars of the bridge.

3) Now create a new layer above the bridge layer and paint the fog similarly like we painted on over the hills.

4) Now merge all the bridge layers and add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.3px to blend the bridge with the DOF of the scene.

Step 8

In this step we are going to create a tower on the other end of the bridge.

1) Cut the image of the tower from the Parliament image and place it on the other end of the bridge as shown.

2) Create a Curves adjustment layer to the Tower layer and set the RGB curves as shown.

3) Now paint the fog over the tower in a new layer to blend with the other elements.

Step 9

In this step we are going to color correct the bridge and the tower together.

1) Group all the Bridge and the Tower layers into a single folder. Then create a Curves adjustment layer and set the RGB curves as shown.

2) Now create Exposure adjustment layer to the folder and set the Offset value to +0.0217 and Gamma Correction to 1.35.

Step 10

In this step we are going to draw the floating laser machines to match with the perspective of the scene we are creating.

1) Draw Two Point Perspective lines as shown and draw the floating machine using the lines as shown.

2) Now create a new layer and paint White on the front side of the machine as shown since it gets direct sunlight.

3) Now paint cool gray color on the side of the machine as it get partial light.

4) Now paint the color #afb0b2 for the inner structure of the machine.

5) For the base of the machine paint the color #585657.

6) Now type in the number 05 on the machine, to indicate that every machine is numbered as per the order and maintenance.

7) It’s a massive machine located by a long distance hence paint the color #bce6f4 over the machine.

8 ) Now merge all the machine layers and add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 0.3px.

Step 11

In this step we are going to create a couple more floating machines in the scene.

1) Duplicate the machine image and resize as shown and add a Gaussian blur of Radius 0.7px.

2) To make it look distant paint the color #bce6f4 on the second machine.

3) Similarly create another machine farther in the scene as shown.

Step 12

In this step we going to add the laser and the lens flare effect on the machines.

1) Place the image lens flare image on the bottom of the first machine and set the Blending mode of the layer to Screen.

2) Similarly add another brighter lens flare over the previous lens flare.

3) Now import another lens flare on to the scene and place it vertically downwards as shown, which depicts the laser emitting from the machine.

4) Duplicate the previously created laser layer to make it look brighter.

5) Similarly add the laser and lens flares to the other machines as shown.

Step 13

In this step we will be creating a parliament house dome in the middle of the city.

1) Cut the image of the dome into a new layer using the Pen Tool (P).

2) Now import the dome on to the working canvas and place it in the middle of the city as shown.

3) Using the Lasso Tool (L) cut the dome to make the building in front of it visible. This can also add a depth to the structure rather than like a cut image in the scene.

Step 14

In this step we are going to color correct the dome to blend with the scene.

1) Create an Exposure adjustment layer to the dome layer and set the Gamma Correction level to 1.47.

2) Now by using the Curves adjustment layer set the RGB curves as shown.

3) Now increase the brightness of the dome by 8 using the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.

4) Create a new layer over the dome layer and paint the light shade on the right side of the dome as shown. Then set the Blending mode of the layer to overlay.

5) Now create another curves layer and set the curves as shown to blend the dome perfectly with the scene.

Step 15

In this step we are going to create few towers in the scene.

1) Cut the small tower structure from the parliament image into a new layer.

2) Now place the tower image adjacent to the parliament dome as shown.

3) Now by using the Exposure adjustment layer set the Offset value to +0.0087 and Gamma Correction to 1.39.

4) Similarly create another tower on the left side of the dome.

Step 16

In this step we are going to create a tower closer to the scene and another tall tower in the scene.

1) Import the previously used tower image and place it on the extreme right of the scene.

2) Since the tower image looks a bit sharp compared to the building around it, we need to add a Gaussian blur of Radius 0.4px to blend it perfectly.

3) Now create a new layer above the tower layer and paint the sunlight using white color.

4) Similarly create another tower in the middle of the city using the tower image used in the step 8.

Step 17

Create a new layer on the top of layers palette and paint the birds flying around in the scene and also around the dome and towers.

Step 18

In this step we are going to create a balcony using multiple images.

1) Import the first image of the balcony on to the canvas and place it on the left side of the scene as shown.

2) Now import another image of the balcony and place it as shown to extend the wall.

3) Duplicate the wall layer and slightly increase the size of it and complete the balcony wall.

4) As we can see that there is an unusual cut at the intersection to the image 1 and 2 of the balcony. Hence, by using the Stamp Tool (S) cover the error.

Step 19

In this step we are going to create branches of a tree with dense leaves covering the upper portion of the scene.

1) Import the image of the tree branches on to the canvas and place it on the upper side of the scene as shown.

2) But here the branches on the right side are covering most part of the scene, hence cut the right portion of the branches into a new layer.

3) Now move the right portion of the branches slightly upwards as shown.

4) Now add a Gaussian Blur of Radius 1.1px to the branches. Then by using a soft brush with black color paint at the tip area of the branches in the Smart layer, because we don’t want the tip area to be blurred.

Step 20

In this step we are going to color correct the entire scene together.

1) Create a Curves adjustment layer on top of the layers palette and set the RGB curves as shown.

2) Now by using the Exposure adjustment layer set the Gamma Correction level to 0.85.

Congratulations, You’re All Done!

Awesome job making it this far! You should be proud of what you’ve created. Show it off to your friends and colleagues and get some feedback.

You can also comment here with your version, or any questions you had about the techniques used. We love to see what you guys create and we’re always here to give helpful feedback and tips to help you to improve.

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

The source files for this tutorial are available to our FanExtra members community. If you want to access the source files for this tutorial (and all of our tutorials + thousands of other resources) then sign up here.

If you’re already a FanExtra member then you can login here to access the source files.

About the Author:

I'm a freelance graphics designer and the Founder of Zillionarts and ZillionArts Workshop. Here we ought to provide the best training on Digital Painting and Visual Effects host by the experienced pros from the Hollywood and Gaming Industry. I work constantly to explore more possibilities and techniques to bring my imaginary worlds to live. You can follow me on Deviantart.

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