Photoshop Matte Painting in Easy Steps

Photoshop Matte Painting in Easy Steps
Photoshop Matte Painting in Easy Steps

Learn how to create a breathtaking scene in simple steps. This Photoshop tutorial will teach you how to blend elements together using nondestructive techniques, paint with vibrant colors, and blur/smudge to create a dramatic scene.

Preview of Final Results


Tutorial Resources

Step 1 - Size

Open the background stock. The size of the stock is width: 2250px and Height: 1500px.


Step 2 – Smart Object

Transform the background into a smart object. Pressing right click in the layer thumbnail and selecting the option Convert to smart object.


Step 3 – Smart Object

Press double click in the smart object thumbnail.


Step 4 - Edit

Now a new window will pop up. This allow you to edit the smart object. So press ok.


Step 5 - Duplicate

Now press Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer in case you need to go back to the original image.In this layer you will use the patch tool to hide undesired parts of the image.


Step 6 – Duplicate and Change color

Press Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer and then press Ctrl+U and in the option saturation put -70. The image will have this color.


Step 7 – Save

The the changes you made to the smart object  press ctrl + S and close the window.


Step 8 - River

Now go to folder you have the stocks and grab the image of the river. You will see that the image is an smart object itself, you can change the size clicking in the corners.


Step 9 – Layer Mask

Create a layer mask to erase the undesired parts of the image. Pick a soft round brush to paint over the parts you want to remove. You will have something like this:


Step 10 – Hue and Saturation

Go to Create a new fill or adjustment layer and click in the option Hue/Saturation.


Reduce the Saturation to -60.


Step 11 – Apply to one object

To Apply the changes only in the layer of the river you have to press right click over the Hue and Saturation layer and select the option Create Clipping Mask.


Step 12 - Duplicate

Now go back to the Background image and duplicate the layer pressing Ctrl+J and then change the layer mode to soft light.


Step 13 - City

Grab the image of the city, and repeat the process of creating a new layer mask to blend the layer to the background


Layer mask:


Step 14 - Blur

Now go to filters – blur – Gaussian blur and add 2 radius pixels to get this result:


Step 15

Now pick a castle and resize it to fit the mountain like this:


Step 16 – Layer Mask

Create a layer mask and like you did before hide with the brush tool the parts you don’t want to use of the image.


Step 17 – Layer mode

Change layer mode to overlay.


Step 18 - Waterfall

Add a image of the waterfall and resize it to fit the mountain.


Step 19 – Layer mask

Use the layer mask technique once again to blend the waterfall.


Change layer mode to soft light


Step 20 – More Elements

Now add more elements to the image, can be mountains, castles, ruins, all of this to give to the image a better look. Use the layer mask technique you learned in the steps before in each of the elements and remember to change layer mode to soft light or overlay.


Step 21 – Add a Stone

Pick a stone stock and add to the image, resize it pressing Ctrl+T.


Step 22 – Select the stone

Now with the Polygonal lasso tool select the stone.


Step 23 – Layer

Add a layer mask to the image to have the selection.


Step 24 - Duplicate

Duplicate the layer pressing Ctrl + J and then change the layer mode to multiply with 60% of opacity.


Step 25 - Moss

Add a moss layer, create a layer mask and hide the undesired parts.




Step 26 – adjustments

Use the layer mode in soft light and reduce the saturation to -40.


Step 27 - Model

To hide the original background of the model, you have to use the polygonal lasso tool and select only the model.


Step 28 – Layer Mask

Now add a layer mask to the image, In that way the selection you made is going to be the only thing you see.


Step 29 - Dress

Duplicate the layer and select only the model’s dress using the same technique as before. Using layer mask and with the brush hide the undesired parts.


Step 30 -

Now go the the layer mask and choose the option add mask to the selection to have an editable layer of the dress.


Step 31 – Change size and color.

Now press Ctrl +T give a right click and choose the option warp to modify the dress, press enter when you are done to save the changes.


Step 32 - Converting

Convert the dress layer into a smart object pressing right click in the layer thumbnail and then selecting the option Convert Smart Object.


Step 33 – Black dress

To make the model’s dress black you have to reduce the saturation to -100.


Step 34- make up

Now for the make up I just paint over the model’s face with pink tones in the cheeks and lips and some brown in the eyebrows. Also add some eye shadows.


Step 35 - Hair

You can paint the hair with the help of some hair brushes pen tool or tablet.


Step 36 – City lights

Now to make the city lights, create a new layer and with a soft round brush paint to create lights. You can use the brush in 5 px or less.


Step 37 - Blur

Go to filter – blur – Gaussian blur and select 2 px radius to give a softer look. Also you can use the eraser with 30% of opacity in some parts to blend the lights.


Step 38 - Sky

Put a layer of a sky and add a layer mask to it.


Step 39 - Hide

Hide all the blue parts and just leave like this:


Step 40 – Layer mode

Change layer mode to soft light and reduce the opacity to 60%


Step 41 - Light

Paint light effects with a soft round brush with 50% of opacity and 50% of flow.


Step 42 – Soft Light

Change layer mode to soft light and the opacity to 60%.


Step 43 - Shadows

Create a new layer and use it in soft light mode. Paint with a soft round black brush with 50% of opacity and 50% of flow.


Step 44 – Freeform Pen Tool

Nowpick the freeform pen tool to make details stand out.


Step 45 - Paths

After you make all of the strokes give a right click and press the option stroke path


Then select brush pressure:


The result is this:


Step 46 – Blur

Pick the blurand also the smudge tool and pass over the stroke you just made to give a softer look. Also reduce the opacity of the layer to 60%.


Step 47 - Lights

As you did before pick a soft round brush in a white or yellow tone and paint around the model to create lights, make sure the brush have 50% of opacity and 50% of flow.


Step 48 – Layer mode

Change the layer mode to soft light, if you think is necessary you can reduce the opacity. Repeat the process with warm tones around the image. In this way you will be creating the direction of the light. Start in the left corner of the image with more intensity and less intensity in the right area of the image.


Step 49 - Dark

Now in a new layer in soft light mode paint with a black brush with 50% of opacity and 50% of flow to get this result:


Final Results

That’s it


About the Author

image057I hope you enjoy the tutorial if you want to take a look of more of my work go to!

- Andrea García

41 comments on “Photoshop Matte Painting in Easy Steps”

  1. I can't not see your all works how can see your all works please help me and give me some trick how can improve my photoshop work I loved it your all work god bless you I hope you will rply me soon ................

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree with you that it can be confusing and I think I know why. In the previous step, your foreground color is probably black because you were painting with black. Set it back to white before you start Step 44.

      After that, use the Freeform Pen Tool and draw the lines like shown in the image. Right-click on any one of the stroke and click on Stroke Path. Select Brush from the menu and make sure "Simulate Pressure" is turned on. If the highlights are too thick/thin, undo the previous step, select the brush tool, and change the brush size & hardness. Then redo the "Simulate Pressure" step. keep doing this to get the right stroke - sometimes it takes a few tries.

  2. The BACKGROUND stock, which is not linked in the tutorial can be found here:

    The CITY can be found on Pinterest:

    Heres the CASTLE, I had to screenshot it from this tut:

    STONE is also screen shot, and you will need to do some cloning:

    MOSS is another screenshot, cloning required again:

    You can also google for a lot of good bridges and towers/ancient architecture.

  3. Fantastic work...i am designer and learning to create amazing moodboards..i cant find anything regards of moodboard tutorials, i hope to find it here:-) thanks very much

  4. beautiful work and extremely appreciable, but could not understand the steps 34 and 34 (creating hair with the help of some hair brushes pen tool or tablet). If possible please elaborate which would be a help to beginners like me.

    thanks and regards

  5. Yeeea, just some of the pictures doesn't exist anymore, i'd love to make this tutorial but unfortunately nobody can't

  6. Beautiful work, but when I tried to begin work on it I'm not able to access any of the pictures! Help!

  7. Nice Tutorial. It gives a so much knowledge for photo-shop beginers Thanks for sharing your experiance.

  8. madam..excellent creative work nearly 50 steps to create that final image what a Patience. I am just beginner in Photoshop and its most helpful to me your working steps...thankyou

  9. Andrea excellent tutorial, I admire your work very much you are very talent and an artist. Your friend José.

  10. I like your tutorials but you have broken deviantart links. I much prefer stock that are not from deviantart because they disappear and the owners have usage rules that make them difficult to use.

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