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Digital Matte Painting: Changing a Scene From Summer to Winter
Illustration by John Hersey

Color correcting the mountains


From:

Digital Matte Painting: Changing a Scene From Summer to Winter

with David Mattingly

Video: Color correcting the mountains

Now that the mountains are separated from the background, it's time to apply a curve to them to make them look as though they're in the middle of winter, covered with snow. Now open the Curves dialog: Command+M or Ctrl+M. I'm going to have to do this in a couple of passes. Let me move the Curves dialog to one side so we can see what we are doing. I want to make the mountains a lot whiter, but I don't want to blow out any of the areas, or make them go to 100% white. The white point needs to be pulled to the left as far as it can without losing detail.

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Digital Matte Painting: Changing a Scene From Summer to Winter
1h 48m Intermediate Jul 03, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, well-known author, teacher, and illustrator David Mattingly demonstrates his production-proven matte painting techniques and shows how to turn a summer daytime scene into a wintry nightscape using Photoshop and After Effects. David shows how to take a plate, or a still shot from a film, and alter key elements to change the season and time of day. Using advance digital matte painting methods, David removes all of the greenery from the mountains, fields, and trees, and covers them with snow. Then he replaces the sky, and adds realistic touches such as chimney smoke, icicles, and night-lit windows. In the final chapters, you'll discover how to create an animated scene that cross-dissolves between the two versions.

Topics include:
  • Making precise selections using the Color Range command
  • Controlling reference material through layer masks
  • Creating custom brushes
  • Painting snow, icicles, and trees
  • Painting through a high-contrast matte
  • Replacing the sky in an image
  • Animating smoke and falling snow
  • Reformatting and rendering a scene in After Effects
Subjects:
3D + Animation Illustration Video Digital Painting Compositing Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects Photoshop
Author:
David Mattingly

Color correcting the mountains

Now that the mountains are separated from the background, it's time to apply a curve to them to make them look as though they're in the middle of winter, covered with snow. Now open the Curves dialog: Command+M or Ctrl+M. I'm going to have to do this in a couple of passes. Let me move the Curves dialog to one side so we can see what we are doing. I want to make the mountains a lot whiter, but I don't want to blow out any of the areas, or make them go to 100% white. The white point needs to be pulled to the left as far as it can without losing detail.

Then select the Lasso tool and let's add an eighteen-pixel feather to it. Then I want to lasso around these darker parts of the mountain on the left side of the composition and then apply another curve on that area. Again, we'll stop when you start to lose detail. This section of the mountain even further on the left side of the composition still needs to be lightened some more, so apply another curve to that area. And then these lower parts of the mountains look like they could have yet another curve applied to them, and lighten them even more.

That looks pretty good, but now the mountains look too blue, because the curve has added a lot of saturation to the color. Rather than handling this color issue with a curve, I think it could be better to desaturate the mountains overall. Press Command+U or Ctrl+U to open up the Hue/Saturation dialog. Then pull the Saturation slider to the left. You don't want to take all of the saturation out the mountains or they'll go dead, so stop when it starts to look fairly natural.

The mountains still look a little magenta, so I'll used another curve to correct that. First I'm going to go to green channel and see if I can pull some of the red out there. Then select the red channel and pull down on the midtones to add a little bit more green. That looks better. I think it could use one more hit of desaturation. That's a decent start on getting the mountains to look snow covered. I'm almost ready to start painting the trees on this background mountain, but I want to adjust some of the contrast between the foothills and the background mountains.

These trees on the mountains look too contrasty to me, so I'm going to click into the layer icon preview for the mountains to load this selection, make sure you're on the Mountains layer, then choose a big soft round brush like this, and then press 5 to set the Opacity to 50%. With the Brush Transfer mode set to Normal, just haze that mountain back a little bit. Then click into the Foothills layer and load the selection. I'm not satisfied with the light effect on this hill; it doesn't seem to be curving around properly.

I'd like there to be more light on the top of the hill and then have it get darker so it gets to the base. For this I am going to set my brush to Overlay. Overlay won't wipe out quite as much of the detail as the Normal mode. And I'm going to just go over the top of this hill to lighten it. That makes the hill curve around a little better. And the whole top of this hill should also be lighter. That now looks more fully formed. I'm ready to add a paint layer and start painting the trees on the background mountain.

We'll do that in the next lesson.

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