How to Create a Mysterious Matte Painting Landscape in Photoshop

How to Create a Mysterious Matte Painting Landscape in Photoshop
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Step 29

Create a new group under group "Towers" and add on it image of waterfall "Waterfall___Full". Select waterfall, used Quick Selection Tool (W) and on Refine Edge remove all unnecessary with brush, set Radius 1.0px. Add a layer mask.
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Use Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to resize, stretch different sides more or less, flip the waterfall horizontally. Duplicate waterfalls ((Cmd/Ctrl + J ) make it easier, use Opt/Alt + Move Tool (V)) and modify them to make them a lot. Try siting them harmoniously. Most importantly, the top of the waterfall approached form the rock (aka waterfall will look dangling in the air). Add a layer mask to the group and with soft brush (Size: 100px, Opacity: 30%), make the distant mountains and ends of waterfall a bit transparent.
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Here is my result. I hope you will not have difficulty. All layers with mountains, sky and waterfall combined in one group "Sky and mountains". The basis of the work ready and now I moved on to adding effects. It's not difficult but you need a lot of new layers :). To achieve a realistic and beautiful colors need to work on each part of the image separately. Each effect, I superimposed on a separate layer, so that I was able to control the color, shape, opacity and location.
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Step 30

Now that everything is in their groups, then you can start adding clouds and fog. It will be a little tedious, because you need to create a new layer after every one or two strokes and then, when you're happy with the result, merge layers. Before, we were moving down per layers, but now we go up. I let go of the details of creating a new layer but remember about this. Let's start with the most simple. Create a new layer over the group "sky and mountains" and draw shadow from clouds on forest (Soft Round Brush, Size: 300px, Hardness:0% Opacity: 100%, color Black). Set Layer Opacity: 52%.
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With Big soft round brush (Size: 1000px, Opacity: 100%, color: White) crossing mountains and sky to create the illusion of distance. Layer Opacity: 12%.
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Step 31

Here proceed to a little daunting task. We need to draw a volumetric fog between the Huangshan mountains and temple. Layer before group "Temple" (Brush form: "CLOD #2" and "stratus", Size: 300px, Opacity: 15-30%, color: White). As I wrote earlier, create a new layer after every one or two strokes, after completion merge clouds layers (Cmd/Ctrl + E).
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Now over the group "Temple and lotuses" add more fog on the trees and the temple. Brush settings remain the same, but I do not use a brush "stratus".
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And now make a small detail - flying birds. Use brush "Sampled Brush 1" (Size: 150px, Opacity: 100%). Several times I use this brush to make a flock of birds more. In my opinion, the birds will look good near the peak of the mountain. So the landscape becomes more dynamic.
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Step 32

With clouds and fog we understand now and I worked more detailed shadows and create a foundation for the future of lighting. Create a new layer by using Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or go to Layer > New > Layer. In the dialog box, specify the following settings for the layer: Mode: Overlay, set checkbox on "Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)".
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Use the Burn Tool (O) for create shadow and Dodge Tool (O) to create a light and shadow. Set the settings to each tool like shown in the image below. On this layer draw light and shadow, in accordance with the weather conditions, view a specific location (such as yellow trees. They look too bright). Especially pay attention to the lotus flowers. To facilitate your task, use the gray image and retry the shadows and light (you will not have an image in gray) in my example. Use different size brush to darken the big places.

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23 comments on “How to Create a Mysterious Matte Painting Landscape in Photoshop”

  1. Possibly the best tutorial I have done. Absolutly awesome image, and I love the way you explain how you see it & why. It is like a noval.
    Please do more !

  2. Amazing tutorial, now I have to go back and do the rest of your stuff. :D

    A tip for Step 38: just select your top layer, go to Edit -> Select all (ctrl/cmd + A)
    then Edit -> Copy merged (shift + ctrl/cmd + C)

    This will copy all the visible layer (inside your selection), now you just have to paste it,

    Edit -> Paste (ctrl/cmd + V) or Paste special -> Paste in place (shift + ctrl/cmd + V).

  3. wow, what a wonderful great tutorial.
    Very well explained so even a "beginner" to work with.
    Thank you also for the material and links to the trouble to write it all. Once again, simply grandiose.
    Kind Regards

    1. Easy to follow. But I have some problems with making it exactly the same you have showed. I would have to search in http://google.com for photoshop basic tools documentation.

      However, thanks!

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