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Painting through a high-contrast matte

From: Digital Matte Painting: Changing a Scene From Summer to Winter

Video: Painting through a high-contrast matte

As I turn off the Foothills layer and take a look at the trees on the original plate, I see there's a lot of deep blue-green in the shadows, and by using the alpha channel to create the snow-covered hills, I've lost some of the natural green that would show up in the shadow areas. I'm going to restore some of that shadow color to the trees by using another technique where I paint through a high-contrast mask. So I'm going to click into the layer thumbnail preview for Foothills to load that selection and then turn off the Foothills and Painting layers and return to my alpha channels again.

Painting through a high-contrast matte

As I turn off the Foothills layer and take a look at the trees on the original plate, I see there's a lot of deep blue-green in the shadows, and by using the alpha channel to create the snow-covered hills, I've lost some of the natural green that would show up in the shadow areas. I'm going to restore some of that shadow color to the trees by using another technique where I paint through a high-contrast mask. So I'm going to click into the layer thumbnail preview for Foothills to load that selection and then turn off the Foothills and Painting layers and return to my alpha channels again.

The green channel has a nice amount of contrast and detail, and I would like to be able to paint through those dark areas to restore some of that deep blue from the original plate. Now I'll duplicate the green alpha channel and apply a high-contrast curve. Basically, the light side of the trees need to go completely white so that it clearly defines the texture of the shadow areas. Then pull the black point to the right so that the shadow areas go completely black. Now, invert the channel by pressing Command+I or Ctrl+I. Then Command+Click or Ctrl+Click into the layer icon preview of the alpha channel.

That creates a selection based on the alpha channel where white loads in as 100% selection and black loads in as 0% selection. This is loading in a selection that contains only the shadow side of the hill. I'm going to turn that off and then return to my RGB channel. I'm going to select some of the color from the shadow side, and let me open it up and we can see what color it is. It's a very intense blue. I'm going to darken it even a little more, then return to the Painting layer and turn it on, and turn on the Foothills layer also.

When you press Command+H or Ctrl+H to reveal the selection, you can see that only the shadow side is selected. Now, open up the brushes and select a big soft round brush. Then go through and paint some of that intense blue-green into the shadow area. This also adds some additional contrast to the deepest part of the hill shadow side. Now I'm going to skip over to this left-side hill. Pressing Command+H or Ctrl+H to reveal the selection, I can see I can do the same thing over on the left side to add some more color and contrast.

So let's zoom out and take a look. That's coming along nicely. Next step, we're going to add some snow to the top of the chalet and winterize it.

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