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Delineating the background

From: Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

Video: Delineating the background

Here is the perspective drawing of the castle. And all we have to do is turn it into a line drawing for the next section on Form. However, we have no indication of the background yet. And it would be helpful to have the hill, volcanoes, and water indicated in the line drawing. So let's quickly draw those in. Make a New layer and call it Background. Let's start with this far shore and the volcanoes.

Delineating the background

Here is the perspective drawing of the castle. And all we have to do is turn it into a line drawing for the next section on Form. However, we have no indication of the background yet. And it would be helpful to have the hill, volcanoes, and water indicated in the line drawing. So let's quickly draw those in. Make a New layer and call it Background. Let's start with this far shore and the volcanoes.

We don't need anything detailed for the background, just a general indication of what's here. We need the outlines of both of these volcanoes and a little something to indicate the smoke, and this smaller background, volcano.

We need a little indication of the bottom of this hill, and the mount behind the castle, and a little indication of the rocks around the castle, and on this little bridge also. The water will be moving in the final plate, but it's good to give an indication of what's here and sketch in this bit of foreground water pattern and block in a little bit more of this volcano smoke up top and down below here. Indicate a little bit of the slant on the hillside, and these clouds on the left.

You don't really need much in the background, just an indication of the major forms. A little bit more of these clouds and that'll do it. What we now have are white lines on top of our concept sketch. You're drawing maybe different depending on what color you worked in. But what we need is a black line drawing on a white background for the Form section of this tutorial. So, let me show you how to turn this into a clean black and white drawing.

In the Layers window, scroll down to the Guides layer and turn it off to clean up the drawing a bit. Then go all the way down to your Background layers with the concept sketch on them, and turn them off. The transparency of the background should now show up, and if you look closely, you can see that the white line drawing is still visible. Scroll up to the top layer with your prospective drawing on it. In my case, it's the layer with the background drawing, and select it.

Make sure you've selected a visible layer. If you're on a layer that has the visibility turned off, it won't copy anything. Then select all in your drawing, Cmd or Ctrl+A. Now, Copy merged, Cmd or Ctrl+Shift+C to copy everything inside the selection. This is different for a regular copy. Since normal copying, Cmd or Ctrl+C, only copies the contents of the current layer but Copy merged copies everything visible.

Then Cmd or Ctrl+Shift+V to paste that right back in the same place. Now all of your perspective drawing on all the various layers are on a single layer. Name this layer, Final Drawing. Make a New layer, move it behind your Final Drawing layer and name it White Background. Fill it with 100% white. Here, we have white lines on a white background, hardly what we had in mind.

So, select the Final Drawing layer and press Cmd or Ctrl+L. This opens up the Levels control. And we'll talk a lot about color correction in a future section. But for now, just drag the White Output Levels arrow all the way to the left. Regardless of what color your line is, this adjustment will make it black. It's not dark enough, so duplicate the Final Drawing layer to make it darker. This drawing is pretty clean, but yours may be a little rougher at this point.

And i want to show you a way to clean up your drawing if it needs it. Back in the predigital era, when I was working with Paint and Brush, I would do my drawing for paintings on tracing paper. The drawing would sometimes take several iterations. And each time I cleaned up the previous drawing, I would lay a new piece of tracing paper on top of the old one, which would obscure the previous drawing slightly. I'd use that as a guide for the new drawing. You can do the same thing in Photoshop by adding what I call Digital Tracing Paper.

Make a New layer in Photoshop on top of the drawing you want to clean up and name it Tracing Paper. Fill it with white. The old drawing is completely obscured. Now, turn down the Opacity to 60%, and now you can see the old drawing but much lighter. Add another layer on top of the Digital Tracing Paper and call it Clean Drawing. With black loaded into your brush and the Opacity set to a 100%, you can clean up your drawing using the old one as a guide.

You can turn the Tracing Paper back up to a 100% if you want to see the clean drawing clearly. Let me get rid of these two layers since I'm not going to use them. And let's zoom out and take a look at the final drawing. I did a little additional clean up on the drawing, and moved the final drawing to the top of the Layers panel. We'll be using the Perspective Guides in some of the future lessons, so let's move them above the final drawing so you can see them. For those of you who are lynda.com premium members, I'm saving this perspective drawing with all the layers and guides inside of the Exercise Files Perspective folder as PerspectiveFinish.psd.

In the next lesson, I'll recommend some great reference books on perspective you might want to check out after this and give you my final thoughts.

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Digital Matte Painting Essentials 2: Perspective

30 video lessons · 3291 viewers

David Mattingly
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