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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.
With the cloud brush prepared, let's paint a sky for this castle. I'm envisioning a firey, dusky sky with a streak of yellow right here at the horizon. Make a new layer behind the castle and hill layer, and name it sky. Using the heads-up color picker, choose a dark, intense red. Start by darkening the horizon. And then, let's choose a bright orange red off of the plate. We'll use that to intensify the red of the sky behind the castle. Then add some red tones behind it to clarify the silhouette. Select our clouds dynamic brush to start adding some clouds to the sky. The custom brush is giving us some really nice randomized cloud shapes that would be hard to do with a normal brush.
Now select a darker tone off the plate so we can cut into the clouds we just painted. You should constantly re-size your brush as you paint so you get a lot of different cloud sizes. Adding indication of clouds at the horizon. Now select a burning yellow-orange color. Let's add a streak of that yellow like the sun burning through the clouds. Paint some streaks around it where the sun would catch the bottom of the clouds. I'm adding lots of little strokes to give the look of a layered cloud bank. Now chose a slightly darker, intense red to give these clouds a little more definition.
I'm going to add some dark streaks to break up the sky a little more. I'm selecting that soft, round brush again. I want to even out some of the lumpy areas in the sky. I'm hopping all around here, reworking areas I'm not happy with.
And then back to the cloud brush one more time for some finishing touches. I'm making sure that these towers clearly silhouette against the sky. Almost done, just a little bit more work on the streaks of yellow. That finishes the sky. Next, we're going to add some erupting volcanoes to the background.
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