Tutorial w. videos: Digital painting


Heya. I recently wrapped up a personal project, and as I usually do, afterwards did a walkthrough of the process to see if I could get a little more conscious about what I’m doing wrong (and right)

 This was the image:

and these were the sources used:

the original image:

a couple of sky photos I shot outside our house:

A flowery hillside near our house:

and last: a quick 3d-rendered farmhouse that I used as a base for painting over. Don’t do what I’m doing here, I was just feeling my way for a method of setting up 3d for integration. I won’t do it
this way again, but rather just render it directly onto a plane that’s mapped with the image I’m integrating it into :slight_smile:

[img]http://www.skjoldbroder.dk/gfx/quiet/tutorial/01.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.skjoldbroder.dk/gfx/quiet/tutorials/01.jpg[/img]


Above: This is the source plate that pluginz.com provided for the matte contest. A couple of things right away struck me as something I wanted to change: first, I wanted to get rid of the sky
since it’s so messy and overbright - second, I wanted to change the mood of the picture to sunny. That specific mood was the overall guideline when plotting out a course to go - and third: I wanted to try my hand at doing an integration of a 3d element.<br>

Above: First thing I do, is resizing to a nice big 4000 pixels wide - which was incredibly stupid, since the original resolution was 2048 wide! Gaah, what a moronic mistake, right out the gate! Rescaling at a factor of not 50% or 200% (25, 400, etc…) will lose your detail and add stuff that Photoshop just makes up, because of the image interpolation that happens in the scaling. (I dunno what I was thinking…sigh…)

Anyways. I paint out that big tree in the foreground - I want to add something into that space, so I need it cleaned.

You can clearly see that I’ve cloned my way through this, and that it’s not very pretty. I’ve tried to show a bit more clearly how this can be done in the video below. Please forgive a few slipups and few bad spots in the sound recording - I’m ad-libbing this stuff and make a few mistakes in calling the ‘clone stamp’ ‘colour stamp’ and so forth :slight_smile:


Below: The next step here is altering the entire colour palette of the image a bit. I don’t want it this green, since what I’m going for is a sunny image - in my mind, sunny means a lot more yellow and warm than what we have here. One simple solution is to selectively shift the hues

Above: In the image we have 1: the source plate, which I’m first modifying in 2: Using the hue/saturation adjustment panel, I’m shifting all colour ranges (notice it says ‘Edit: Master’ at the top. You can select different colour ranges in this dropdown menu). Image 3 is the result.

This isn’t a bright, sunny landscape yet - and that’s not what the aim is here. The aim is simply to turn the hues towards a warmer landscape - I guess you could think of a sunny day, but overcast :slight_smile: Notice the background mountains and the lake are tilted too far towards cyan… very psychedelic. I want that turned back, so I open the hue/saturation adjustment panel again, and this time select ‘cyan’ in the Edit dropdown menu. This will only affect colours in the range defined as ‘cyan’ now - which of course won’t always work for blues, since they might be in the range defined as either blue or magenta as well. For this, you’ll have to try and see. Image 5 is the result - a slightly warmer landscape, but still with the blue-tinted lake and hazy mountains.

Above: This was the actual hueshifted version I used.

Above, I’ve painted over a bit of the lake - I was just experimenting with the way it looked, really. The main thing I’ve done here is to add a mask for the sky. The reason I’m doing this is that I wanted to change the image to a sunny one, which of course also calls for a sky replacement. Rather than having to paint carefully so as to not paint over any background elements, I might as well just create a mask to paint within. A lot of people use quickmasks, but I’m more partial to using layers with the ‘preserve transparency’ option turned on.
I’ve captured a short video clip of various masking techniques, which you can download below.


I hope noone takes offense at my little wisecrack about ‘grads’ VS ‘gradients’ - it seems like that’s the LA slang for gradient; I’ve certainly heard it said a few times, but I of course have nothing but respect for the matte artists in question. If you want to get back at me, you can always hit me about that ‘quickwask’ I’m talking about in the beginning of this video.


The next bit of detailing I want to show, is the addition of those nice sparkly sunlight streaks you see on the lake when the weather is good. I’ve done a very quick overview of a semi-procedural method of doing this, which you can take a look at below:


After cloning stuff out, I extend the canvas a bit upward - just because I want a big sky in this image - obviously this is different to the widescreen “movielike” dimensions that you’ll usually see in a matte, but I don’t really care about that :slight_smile: I’m thinking about sticking in a mountain as well, so I could use some space. I took a few snaps of a sunny afternoon sky outside our house one day, which I pasted into my masked area:

 Great, huh... Lots of branches and stuff that's not really any good. That needs a lot of work!


Using the methods (briefly) described in the video above, I arrived at the image below: I did take a little while, but wasn’t actually that bad. When I say that I’m colourpicking from the photo, what I mean is that I have my brush tool selected [B], and use the [left alt key] whenever I want to pick up a colour from the canvas. As soon as you let go of Alt again, you’re returned to your brush tool, which is very handy.

In the video below, I’ve gone into a little detail with one way of adding lighting to a landscape like this: It’s basically a process of duplicating the base layer, adjusting it to a bright, sunlight level, masking it off, and finally painting through the mask in places you want the sun to hit.


Besides adding sparkling bits to the lake, I also added a bit of haze in the distance (using a semi-transparent gradient on a layer beneath the sky, so it only showed up on the landscape)
Looking at it now, I decided that the big cloud was a bad thing: a scale-breaker and overall bad influence. So I painted him out, using the same techniques as I did on those branches in the video above.
I’ve also brightened up the lake a bit.

…Aaannd now, I’m just screwing around a bit. Adding in a big mountain silhouette back there, adding some air balloons, all that kinda thing. It was fun :slight_smile: - At the end of my ‘having fun session’, I end up adjusting the image a little bit. I play around with the levels to get it a little more contrasty, and also change the temperature of the picture a bit, so it’s warmer overall.
It’s time to stop playing, though, because I’m going to start the integration of my little 3d farm that I built!


Beautiful, right? Well, not exactly (please don’t think I’m this bad at 3d art :slight_smile: - Next time, I might actually put some work into building a 3d element, but this time around, I really wanted to see how little I could get away with! Would it be possible to render out fairly undetailed buildings and make them look decent once scaled down? It turned out to be a little harder than I thought, though…

 I'm pretty sure what any sane person would do, is this:
step 1: build 3d geometry to a good standard
step 2: set up lights to match the image that it's going to be integrated into
step 3: create geometry to map the image onto, so that you can render shadows onto it.
step 4: align the geometry to the geometry you created in step 3
step 5: render with nice shadows and lights and fluff
step 6: enjoy the powaaah of your 1337 skillz!

Unfortunately, what I did was more like this: 
step A: build crude 3d geometry with only procedural textures (if any texture at all).
step B: set up lights to match the image (roughly)
step C: create a grey plane that's in the correct perspective (kinda)
step D: position the 3d farm.
step E: render with a hard shadow onto a grey plane
step F: go into Photoshop, to start a manual integration.

Which I probably should’ve thought a bit more about - anyways. It’s in the past! Below is the first step of my integration: I cut out everything but the farm and its shadow, and position it on a multiply layer.

I duplicate the multiply layer outlined above, set it’s blend mode to normal, and cut away the shadow. I now have the shadow on the ground, and the buildings as they looked on the initial render. Not really very nice.

Using a pressure-sensitive brush, I paint in some details on the top of the little wall. I’m using standard photoshop brushes for all of this stuff - and I’ll demonstrate in a video exactly how to do some of this stuff later on, when I demo the wall extension I’m doing in the field.

I import a number of textures to help me detail the buildings. For more detail on how to use stuff like this in this particular way, have a look at the texture detailing video.


So this is how it looked when I imported the farm back into the bigger image - Rather poorly integrated, the scale is messed-up, I don’t like it. The animgif below shows a close-up of how I changed it.


So - the farm integrated, the overall image looks as you see below. I’ve added some more details here and there - foliage, brighter leaves in some of the trees, etc. Now I want to do an integration of one of the snaps I took near our house - the hillside with flowers on it. The process is outlined in the video below.


  • the actual result of that integration was the image below.


The next major bit of painting I did was the wall - I had a lot of fun with that, really, even though it was pretty much just a process of colourpicking from the canvas so the colours matched the already existing wall.

On the large scale, it works nicely, I think, but if you zoom in to a closeup, you’re going to see how rough and sketchy it really is - a major benefit from working at a large resolution and then scaling down is that you can get away with stuff like this. The plants just over the wall are painted too, using the scattering, shape dynamics, other dynamics and colour dynamics in the Photoshop brush engine.

I got some nice feedback on a mattepainting forum, among others that the tree in the left side of the picture is huuuuuuuugely massive. Which it is, really :slight_smile: So the next major change I did was taking that tree out, and painting in some more lake behind it. It was a matter of cloning stuff, as detailed in a video above, and of colourpicking from the lake to match up shadow levels and colours. I painted some of the trees behind the lake extension as well, using the same type of brush options as I used in painting flowers onto the hillside, and sparkling bits onto the lake - the brush engine is a superbly powerful tool for this type of thing: you can achieve a randomness and spontaneity in your work, that lends itself nicely to natural things such as leaves and plants, along with colour variations and other stuff - virtually for free!

Now, for detailing the mountain in the back. There are several problems with it:

  • it looks transparent
  • it has no detail
  • the clouds in front of it are a shapeless, foggy mish-mash
  • I want to change it :slight_smile:

Since the sun is coming from the left, I wanted to emphasize the shadows on the right side of the mountain a lot more, and I also wanted to add some brightness to the peak. I probably shouldn’t have made it so bright, but I adjusted that later on (maybe I should’ve just inserted a photographic mountain, but I felt like just painting it.

The animation below shows some stages from the process.

And finally: the last bits and bobs that I added: a little bit of smoke from the chimney of the house, a little more contrast to the shore of the lake here and there, and a little bit of haze off that small hill in front of the mountain.

And that is that, pretty much.

I apologize for the quality of the videos I’ve captured, but as I said in one of’em, I’m just some guy without much equipment or software, so I have to make do with what I have. Thanks for having a look at this, I hope you got some useful input out of it. If not - well. Maybe you can give some to me :slight_smile:

  • if you want a downloadpage for movies only, there’s one here: www.skjoldbroder.dk/downloads.html


awesome! thanks alot for the effort you put into this. you might just have inspired me to try doing a matte. learnt alot from the “this is what i did wrong” parts :thumbsup:


Thank you, thank you, thank you. The best matte tut ever!


thank you for the time to make this tutorial and the awesome tips :smiley: great work :smiley:


5 stars
One of the best matte tutes that’s free! Great for beginners. Keep up the terrific work.


thanks a lot for the positive feedback! I had really great fun doing this :slight_smile:

rende: yeah, one of the reasons for doing this was as a post-mortem for myself so I could see where I went horribly wrong - great that you got something out of my mistakes as well, hehe :slight_smile:


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