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Learn to create new worlds, both fanciful and totally realistic, in our series on digital matte painting in Adobe Photoshop with David Mattingly, a matte artist for many groundbreaking motion pictures such as Tron and I, Robot. In this installment, he shows you how to set up your palettes and workspace, tone the underlying plate, create silhouettes in your background, and paint in light and other details. Plus, learn to paint waterfalls, smoke, and other elements that make for fascinating movie backdrops.
I have some fun details in mind that I'd like to add to the castle. First, I envision a lava waterfall that comes off the front of the bridge. Sort of like the castle is processing the lava as a power source. Choose the lasso tool, and select the area where the waterfall will be painted. Choose a brush with some scattering on it to mimic the rough look of the lava. Choose a deep intense red as the base color for the waterfall. Make a new layer to paint on in front of the castle and we'll call this layer, Effects.
That selection should be filled with that bright red color. A slightly darker version of that red would be great for adding some detail. Then choose a fiery bright yellow. And now we're going to paint in some steamy streams of lava pouring over the lip of the bridge. You want to break up and randomize these streams so that they're irregular.
I have to admit I haven't seen many lava waterfall so I'm guessing about this. It would probably be darker at the bottom than at the top since the lava would cool as it went over the edge. I'm going to zoom in so I can add some flames on each side of the entrance in these flame holders.
Bright yellow would work well for the core of these flames. I'm going to add a little bright red to intensify that look. And I want to paint the flame on this other side.
I want to add some little yellow windows on each side of the entrance. And then a little red exterior glow. Maybe a little bit more red on those flames. This entrance needs a glow so I'm going to marquee off. And then select the big soft round brush, and grab a bright red orange. And then a brighter yellowish, we look more into the interior of the structure.
I want to marquee off the inner wall of that entrance. It needs to be darker. I'm thinking some smaller copies of the crenelations I have on the castle walls would look over this doorway, so I'm going to marquee off this set. Copy them out and paste them in place.
Then drag them down over the entrance, press Command or Control+T to transform them, then right click, and select distort to wrangle them into position. Press return when it looks about right. We're almost done with the concept painting. In the next lesson, we'll add more implied detail and finish this up.
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