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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.
Next up I want to show you a great way to add repeating unifying detail to your castle by adding crenelations to the tops of the castle walls. Crenelations are repeating blocky forms soldiers used as protection while defending a castle. Many castles had distinctly shaped crenelations and it's a wonderful way to give your castle personality. Open up the document we used to create the tower tops and square brush. Select the lasso tool or press the L key and with the feather parameter set to 0 draw a triangle. Go up to the top menu and chose Edit, Fill and fill it with 100% black. I think I made the triangle a little too wide.
So, I'm going to press Command or Control+T and transform it horizontally. With the selection still active, go up to the top menu, choose Edit, Define Brush preset and let's name this brush Triangle. Press the B key to access the brush tool and they go up the top brush menu and choose triangle. Deselect the triangle, Command or Control+D, so that we can do some tests with the new triangle brush. Depending on what the defaults are set to in your brush window, if you drag the new triangle brush horizontally, you should get something like this. Let's undo that and make some adjustments in the Brush window. The parameter we want to deal with is spacing, or how much distance there is between each dab of the brush.
As the spacing percentage gets higher, you can see there's more distance between each crenelation. For this to work, you need to make sure that Transfer is turned off in your Brush controls. If it's checked on, there'll be an opacity difference between the depths of paint. Return to the castle document and let's start painting some crenelations. First, make a new layer and name it Crenelations. Pick a color from the dark side of the castle and then line the crenelation up with the top of the bridge. Click once, go to where you want the crenelations to end, and click again. You get a nice repeating pattern of crenelations across the top of the bridge. In this case I think the crenelations are a little too large. So I'm going to undo.
And then use the Bracket key to adjust the brush size. Press the Right Bracket key to make the brush larger. And the Left Bracket key to make it smaller. With the slightly smaller brush click once, hold down the Shift key, and then go to where you want the crenelations to end and then click again. I'm going to add in the visible crenelations on this back side also. Now add crenelations throughout the castle using that same technique of clicking, holding down the Shift key and then clicking again.
Select the light side color so you can paint the light side crenelations. When doing this you should keep the spacing between the crenelations the same, most castles won't have different spacing between the crenelations on different walls. Next I want to show you an easy way to add a back side to these crenelations. Right now they're flat but we want to add some dimension to them. Choose the Lasso tool and then select only the crenelations on the light side of the castle. All of your crenelations were painted on a new layer so make sure that layer is selected and then press Cmd+J to copy those light side crenelations onto a new layer.
Move that copy behind the Crenelations layer, select a color from the dark side of the castle. Go up to Edit, Fill, and with Preserve Transparency checked, fill the light side crenelations full of that dark side color. Let me zoom in so you can see what I'm doing. Select all, and hide the selection. Then press and hold the Command option, or Control+Alt keys. And press the left arrow key multiple times. This makes Photoshop create slightly offset duplicate layers of the dark side crenelations.
Each slightly offset to the left of each other creating a dimensional back side to the crenelations. Let me turn off the other layer so you can just see this Backside layer. Now select all of the dark side crenelations and let's do this same process. With those selected, press Command or Control+ j to copy the dark side crenelations onto a new layer, and place that layer behind your existing crenelations.
Select all, and then Command option or Control+Alt, Right Arrow key to duplicate the backs of the dark size crenelations. Then select one of the darker colors from the dark side. And fill those duplicate dark side crenelations full of that color. Now, all of your crenelations are fully dimensional. Next up, we'll add more detail to the castle.
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