This tutorial shows how to develop a futuristic fantasy theme out of a plain background using photo manipulation, photo montage techniques coupled with some painting inside Photoshop.
Preview of Final Results
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Futuristic Matte Painting.zip | 35 MB
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Create an Amazing Futuristic Matte Painting Photoshop Tutorial
- California Coastline – SXC
- Sky1 – SXC
- Sky2 – SXC
- Sky3 – SXC
- Sky4 – Orangen Stock
- Dark sky – Night Fate Stock
- Building – SXC
- Helipad – SXC
- Base Texture – CGTextures
- Mountain1 – SXC
- Mountain2 – SXC
- Mountain3 – SXC
- Mountain4 – SXC
- Mountain5 – SXC
- Mountain6 – SXC
- Mountain7 – SXC
- Glacier – SXC
- Halong Bay – SXC
- Machu Picchu – SXC
- Yosemite – Dex-Mecha
- Beach – SXC
- Planet – SXC
- Bird Brushes – Adaae-stock
- Bird Brushes2 – Redhead Stok
Step 1: The Idea
When I found the California coastline image I thought to create something interesting with it. I imagined theme and put it on the canvas that you can see below. Some futuristic unconventional building and a huge helipad or aerodrome and some floating mountains or rocks! As I came to a conclusion about what to create I painted it out loosely. I blocked the initial shapes and details using default chalk brushes in Photoshop. Just to give some direction and mood. I encourage you to start by blocking the shapes. Later on we will fill them with photo elements. Please keep in mind you are not just limited to these instructions. They are there to give you some direction. There is always plenty of room for your own creative freedom to improvise things. That is what tutorials are about. So let’s get started.
Step 2: Setting up the Background
Create a new document at 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels height. Bring the California Stock image into Photoshop. Drag and drop it into the working document. I tend to keep things organized into groups to the extent it is sensible. Though we don’t need to create a new group for every single layer. Create a new group called “background”, drag the background image into the group folder.
Flip the canvas by choosing Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontally. Reposition the image. Use the coordinates if you need.
Press Ctrl+M, adjust the values slightly using the “Curves” dialogue box.
Step 3: Replacing the Sky
We have just set up the background. Let’s actually start to build the scene. We are going to work from the back to the front fashion. So we start from the sky. The sky is the key element in an image that defines the mood and lighting. The sky existing sky isn’t going to work for us. Add a Layer Mask and paint out the sky with the Brush Tool.
The sky is keyed out. We will create our own sky by blending different skies together. Let’s open up the Sky1 and drag it into the main document. Resize and reposition the sky. Create a new group called “sky” below the “background”. Drag the sky layer into the group.
Adjust the saturation using Hue/Saturation dialogue box. Press Ctrl+U to load the Dialogue box.
Drop in Sky2 just above the Sky1 layer. Squash the layer in both directions and re align just as you can see here.
Here I kept the portion of the layer I wanted and masked out remaining area using a Layer Mask. Pick a soft brush to paint inside the mask.
Mix it up with the sky below. Match the lighting and color using Curves and Hue/Saturation adjustments.
I sampled the color from the sky layer and painted to fill the gap.
Drop in the Sky3 into the Sky group. Reposition the sky. I wanted the top right portion of the image. So keeping it intact hide the remaining with a Mask.
Adjust the tone and lightness with Hue/Saturation box.
I Duplicated the background Layer. Disabled the mask, copied the portion that I wanted. Blended it using Layer Mask and Curves adjustments.
Step 4: Creating the Futuristic Building
This is what we are going to create
So we have this idea of having a giant structure in the scene based on the sketch. To create the initial shape we will use Illustrator’s 3D tools. Switch to Illustrator. Press Ctrl+N to create a new document. Draw the outline shape using the Pen Tool. Change the stroke color to #ffffff
After the shape is defined go to Effect > 3D > 3D Revolve.
Copy the object and paste it into our document as Smart Object. Place it above the mountain range in the middle ground. Create a new group for the object. For the sake of simplicity call it “Building”. This is going to be the base layer that contains photo elements and details.
Yeah the shape is good but I wanted it to be a little bit wider. So I stretched it a little bit by pressing Ctrl+T. Add a Layer Mask to the base layer and hide the areas that are covering the trees in the background to make it look like it is behind the trees.
Recolor the building. Create a new layer above the base layer. Press Ctrl+Alt+G to clip the layer to the base layer. Create a new gradient in with similar values. Apply the gradient by dragging with the Gradient tool.
Lower the opacity of the layer to 50%.
Open the building stock and remove the sky using the Magic Wand Tool.
Set a vertical guide. Press Ctrl+T and rotate the building to align with the vertical guide. Make a selection, copy and paste into the main file.
Now clip the layer to the base layer. Flip the layer horizontally.