Photoshop tutorial: Fantasy digital matte painting

Step 7
Now create a new layer and name it ‘Left foreground mountain’. Paint in the rough details as you did in the previous step. Once done, select ‘Layer 1’ again and create a new layer named ‘Middle-ground’.

Step 8
We will now add the final extensions over the original plate, which includes the waterfall and another small peak towards the rear of the ruins. Once done you can delete your ‘Outlines’ layer. Your rough should now look similar to the screengrab above. This sketch will give you an idea of what your final composition will look like, displaying elements such as colour, lighting and perspective.

Ideally you shouldn’t spend more than a few hours working on this colour rough. Next we will start to render our matte in a bit more detail and try to give the painted area more of a photorealistic appearance.

Step 9
We will start with the sky again. Select your ‘Sky’ layer and with a variety of different sized brushes, carefully build up the layers of cloud. If you are feeling a bit artistically challenged you can always find a good-sized photograph and paste it in, retouching it a bit with some brushwork. Make use of adjustment layers and colour overlays placed over your sky layer to view changes without affecting your working layer.

Step 10
I have painted in some distant mountains beneath the sky to give the painting more depth. These are just flat colour silhouettes with some highlights added to the edges. Once your sky is finished go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and add a little bit of Gaussian Noise to help it match the ‘film’ grain of the original plate.

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