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Learn to paint atmospheric scenes

By Byzwa Dher
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 2nd February 2015
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Freelance digital artist, Byzwa Dher walks us through the Photoshop process for his image End of Mountain, using color and light to create an atmospheric fantasy scene.



This making of article will focus on the creation of a fantasy scene. I'll write about my technique for the faster creation of an environment concept, where my main objective was to generate an atmosphere for the viewer.

When I start, I don't have any special thoughts on what the final image will look like. My method involves starting the drawing process by analyzing a certain theme. I collect all the facts and ideas I want present in the image before starting the drawing.
For this piece I chose a fantasy scene, and made some notes about the features I wanted to show in my image. I wanted to feature some mountains, a canyon, some magic lights, a sun and a character who that provides the narrative or storyline for the piece, allowing the viewer to create his own story about it. I was inspired by the references from my visual library that I collected to help start this image.

Step 1: Thumbnails

After analyzing the ideas, I went onto visualizing the composition. The fastest way for me to start was to make thumbnails drafts. I made some layouts in at a low resolution (roughly 300x150px) because you don't need that much time to make small images. I didn't paint details, just a quick sketchy layout of the composition. I took five minutes for each layout.

A selection of the thumbnails

Step 2: Basic shapes

From the thumbnails, I chose the one that was most interesting for me. My decision was No. 3, as I liked the atmosphere of the canyon and the idea of an entrance to a new country. At this point, I had the idea to incorporate perhaps the itinerant nature of the character, who is passing the gate at the end of the mountains.

After choosing the thumbnail, I added an extra 3,000 pixels of resolution. With the Lasso tool I started to quickly trace the single shapes from the layout. I focused on the values, which is important to achieve depth in a picture, where shapes closer to the camera have a bigger contrast than those in the distance. I used just six shades, and made sure not to use either 100-percent black or 100-percent white.

Blocking out the basic shapes and assigning values to create depth

Step 3: Defining shapes

I put every single different shade for each shape in a different layer. I then focused on adding detailed definition for the configuration of the shape. With the Erase tool, with a hardness of 100-percent, I created the outline of mountains. It was important to make sure every single shape was really well drawn, because they were used as templates for the textures in the next step.

For easier working I tried to organize layers into the groups from the very beginning, to allow me to locate components easily. I divided the project into the basic layers of environment composition: foreground, middle-ground and background.

Organizing the scene into fore, mid and background groups

Step 4: Textures

After finishing the outlines of the shapes, I collected photos with nice textures. For a better image, I chose my own photos that I took in the mountains on my holidays. To create the single textures, I added it to single shapes and affixed them with a clipping mask on each layer.

I adjusted the value of every texture with levels and color balance for the concrete layer. When I had a whole scene covered with brushstrokes, I painted the details of textures. I used the standard Chalk brush and a rock texture brush.

Adding in the texture using his own photographs

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 157480, pid: 0) Lu�s Silva on Wed, 04 February 2015 9:50pm
Very good tutorial. Very enlightening images. Many Thanks
(ID: 157468, pid: 0) Lu�s Silva on Tue, 03 February 2015 11:36pm
tutorial very well explained. Very enlightening photos Thank you.
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