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A crucial step in building a realistic digital matte painting is texturing your scene. This course shows you how to add light, color, and texture to a basic form using photographic references and the tools in Adobe Photoshop. Author David Mattingly starts the lessons where Digital Matte Painting Essentials 3 left off—with a fully shaded 3D form—but you can also jump straight into this installment to learn more about texturing. Start now to learn how to add crenellations, color correct your form, distort and relight photographic textures, and add glows and special effects that make your painting convincing.
So far we've done fairly workaday color corrections. But before we leave the topic, I want to do an extreme color correction, changing a piece of reference dramatically. Here's a piece of photo reference of a waterfall. Those of you that are lynda.com premium members can it in the Course Materials folder as Waterfall.jpg. It isn't a particularly good piece of reference, it's badly scanned and low contrast. However, I think I can change this into a lava waterfall at the front of the castle by distorting it and applying a really wild color correction.
With your Marquee tool, select around the edges of the waterfall and copy it out. It needs to go at the front of the castle, so paste it in there. Now, transform and distort it. Every time you move one corner of the distort tool, it affects the other corners. So you'll have to work back and forth to get it to sit in this spot properly. Keep adjusting it in smaller and smaller increments, until you get what you want. I think we can all agree this doesn't look very much like a lava waterfall. But let's start pulling the curves and see what we can get.
I'm going to go ahead and do this color correction directly to the layer. You can apply an adjustment layer if you want. First, you'll want to make the waterfall much redder. Since this photo is very neutral, if we pull in on the black point of the green curve, it'll make everything maroon. Let's do the same with the blue black point. Pull it halfway to the right, and that makes everything more yellow. Since we want all of the light tones to be more yellow, pull way down on the white point of the blue curve. Now it's starting to look like lava. It would be nice if the reds would pop a bit more, so let's pull the red curve white point to the left to increase contrast in the reds.
The reds are getting somewhat over-saturated, so let's pull the white point of the green curve to the left. That neutralizes the reds a bit and adds more contrast. Finally, on the RGB curve, pull the white point to the right to increase overall contrast. The darks seem too dark for lava, so let's pull up on the shadows part of the curve. By the way, let me show you an example of posturization, or where your reference no longer has enough tones to represent the image smoothly.
If I pull way up on this light side of the curve, you can see an extreme example of that. Basically, this curve has thrown away so much information, that there are only a few tones available to represent the picture. Clearly not what we want. You can get rid of a point on a curve by pulling up or down quickly. This can be tricky, since if you aren't snappy enough, it can pull the curve in a very weird way. But, that's easily fixed. So, we went from here to here, with one extreme color correction.
Hopefully, that opens up some possibilities for you for using your photo reference in unexpected ways. Next we're going to add a photographic sky, and we'll do that in the next lesson.
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