Home Tutorials Photo Manipulation How to Create a Mysterious Matte Painting Landscape in Photoshop

How to Create a Mysterious Matte Painting Landscape in Photoshop

Learn how to create this beautiful mountain landscape in Photoshop. This tutorial shows how to develop a amazing and meditative landscape of the mysterious East theme out of a plain background using photo manipulation, photo montage techniques coupled with some painting inside Photoshop.

First of all we will create foreground atmosphere using temple and lotuses photos. In next part add towers to expand the landscape and make the transition between plans. Then we will create a surreal mountain landscape and add a variety of color effects. In the final step, we will create light effects and sun. Finish it up with using adjustments layers properly. I have used Photoshop version CC 2014 to create this work but you cam use any version from CS onwards will be fine as well.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Opening Photoshop and get started! Create a new document at 1800 pixels wide and 3300 pixels height, resolution 300 Pixels/Inch.

Step 2

Now, we’re going to create the base of our artwork. I started with the first central temple. It was from its position I can move on and build a correctly perspective. Go to File > Place (Place Embedded) and add in working document image “byodo_in_temple_in_oahu_by_cynnalia_stock-d7bz2oh”.


Step 3

In the case of vertical image, I did not change the original size of the photo. I positioned it so that the photo started with 2536 pixels height up. Try to place the picture precisely, so as not to background stood out (to make it easier to hide the background layer by clicking the eye icon next to the layer).


Step 4

I immediately removed the fog and pyramidal trees, that it does not interfere. For this I used Pen Tool (P). I need a clear and straight edges of the temple. If you use other tools as Quick Selection Tool (W) you will get rough edge and some unnecessary items can stay. For matte painting every detail is important and forms the basis for a good picture. Leave trees on the left and right sides of the image. When you selected trees do not need to exactly follow the contour, leave some free space above them as well as at the edges of roofs. From created path make a selection (right – click on image or button on upper Options panel).


Step 5

Make Feather: 0px, set checkbox on “New Selection” and click OK. Improve the selection and remove the extra. First inverse Selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I or Select > Inverse) and go to Refine Edge (Opt/Alt+ Cmd/Ctrl + R or Select Refine Edge). In Refine Edge set checkbox on “Smart Radius” and set Radius: 0.3px. Use brush in this window and several times draw it along the edges of the trees, where stayed background. After all click OK.



It remains to remove background. Add a layer mask by clicking on the Add Layer Mask button in the layers panel or by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.7

Step 6

We go further. The next step, I began work on the first plan. I added in working document (File > Place (Place Embedded)) a small lotuses (Stepping stones) image “Stepping_Stones_by_Ekuboryu”. Resize it so lotuses be smaller (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) and place them between temple coast and the left edge of the image.

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