Create a Misty Landscape Using 3D Renders and Stock Photography – Tuts+ Premium Tutorial - Technology Portal

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1/20/2013

Create a Misty Landscape Using 3D Renders and Stock Photography – Tuts+ Premium Tutorial

Final Product What You'll Be Creating

When working on a matte painting in a production environment, you will likely be provided with either a 3D render or a photo to use as a base for your artwork. In this Tuts+ Premium tutorial, Ed Lopez will combine photo manipulation with digital painting to create a misty landscape in Photoshop. This tutorial includes both written and video content and is available exclusively to Tuts+ Premium Members. If you are looking to take your matte painting skills to the next level then Log in or Join Now to get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.

Step 1 – New sky and sketch

So here we go; for the base image I will provide you with a base render I made for you guys specifically for this tut. In a production environment for matte painting, 99% of the time you will be provided with either a 3d base or an image from the production to work with, at least you get a storyboard or sketch to start. Go ahead an open up the bas image here.
First thing we need its a new layer where we can start sketching out our plan for the image.
Now let’s pick up this chalk brush here; we will be using this one quite a bit.
Other thing we will be doing all the time its sampling color from the base next to the different sections we will be painting on.
We quickly sketch out some nice overhang peaks, and when we move further back in z space we sample color accordingly from the plane in which we will paint. We are just painting quick shapes, we are more interested in the overall look and positioning of the shapes; avoid getting into any detail, and keep in mind only the overall image. We need to train our eye and get something that pleases our vision. Don’t worry if you paint something that doesn’t look good just remove it and paint somewhere else.
You can see here how we are building up shapes on to the horizon, it also doesn’t matter if you paint yours in different positions, or maybe even different shapes, we must be creative. Also you can see as mentioned earlier that its only very rough shapes, while you paint, zoom out and look at the overall image constantly to see how the composition feels.
Once we have the rough shapes in place we sample highlight color to start planning on where these highlights need to be positioned according to the light source.
In the same way just paint in some rough highlights as shown here, that quickly give us the light direction and feel from our light source.
Once we are satisfied with what we have, let’s grab the eraser tool with the same brush.
With our eraser tool let’s just polish the edges of our painted peak shapes just a bit, and check our scene and decide if we want more peaks or maybe even remove some.
Once we are all set with the initial sketch, let’s grab the magic wand tool.
On the base plate let’s use it to select the whole sky, which wont be a problem since it is mostly well defined. This is a basic on matte painting, you will be asked to replace skies all day.
If you have some section where the magic wand spills off such as this one, just use your lasso tool to remove that section from the selection.
Once you have a good selection of the sky, just inverse the selection, and click on the mask icon which will give you and instant mask of what we selected. This is a non destructive way in which I like to work, where you can edit the mask if something is not correct, and also so you can easily detail the mask as you need. Take a bit of time and check if there is any left over from the sky that needs to be removed.
Once you have detailed the mask you should have a clean sky extraction, ready for the new sky. If you miss something you can always go back to the mask and detail it further.
I selected this image for our new sky, yet you can choose some other sky. As its usual with low sun images there is always heavy noise and artifacts in them, so we will use the reduce noise tool to get rid of all this.
Adjust the dialog settings as shown here to get full noise reduction.
Bring the image on to our main project.
Scale it wide and flat as shown here.
Now let’s make a new layer on top of the sky layer.
Now let’s grab the brush tool again and select a big soft tip.
Sample a very light color from the landscape horizon, and paint in all across so we blend the new sky with the landscape.
Now let’s create even another layer on top of the sky and fill it in with black.
Use the lens flare filter as shown here and set the layer mode to linear dodge.
Let’s scale and rotate the flare a bit as shown here..
With the soft brush tip and the eraser tool just erase a bit of the sharp edge from the top right.
On top of the horizon and sky layer we need a color balance layer, and adjust the levels as shown below.
Over the flare layer we also need a color balance layer, yet this time clipped so it only affects the layer below, and we can now bring the colors of it to match our sky.
Adjust the color balance as shown here so the warmth and balance matches as seen below
To get rid of the obvious lens artifacts we can apply Gaussian blur again.
Let’s now go back to the layer where we sketched our overhang peaks.
Let’s select the brush tool and enable transfer and pen pressure on the brush palette.
Let’s use the same chalk brush again and make it only 2px.
It’s now time to make our sketched shapes shown here on to rocks that match the detail of the rest of the landscape. The most important step to start with is to sample color correctly from highlights and shadows that match the landscape close by.
Then with this very small brush and taking advantage of the settings we have on the brush palette we add detail a bit more to our peaks as shown here, yet keep in mind that we will add even more detail later on, but I like to add my detail in increasing stages, so there is always a chance to modify something without the need to waste any work.
If you arrive at a section that is way to rough, it is always better at this stage to refine the border a bit with the eraser tool..
Just quickly go around the edge making it more defined.
And next once again sample color from the plate for both highlights and shadows. Then let your eye guide you to our new increased level of detail as shown below.
You have to pay close attention to sections where there is influence from haze and fog as shown here where you need to match your color pick for both depth and altitude to match.

...and that's the end of the preview!

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