You will use the panoramic of the Sand Dune that you created in article 1 as the basis for the matte painting. The image has been provided for you as well. Go to the Tutorials folders and open “sand dune merged .tif”.
The goal is to build a new sky with some Skyscrapers above the sand dune. To do this you will need to extend the canvass upward a bit. Start by duplicating your layer (Ctrl-J/Cmd-J). Activate your Crop tool (C ) and drag a Crop box around the entire image. Next, extend the top portion of the crop box upwards about 50% higher as shown in figure 1. When you satisfied just hit enter on the keyboard to commit the changes. You should have a result similar to figure 2.
Next, you will remove the mountain ranges from the upper portions of the scene. To accomplish this activate the Magic Wand (W) and select the sky and mountain areas. The Magic Wand will select similar colors or luminance’s contiguously and will stop at any differentiating hue or value. So, if you need to select additional information just hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and continue to add to your Selection. When everything is selected hit the Delete key to get rid of the mountain range leaving only the sand dunes.
Go to your tutorials folder and open “clouds1.tif”. Place this image below the sand dune layer. You will notice that the clouds are approximately 50 % smaller than the sand dune file due to it being a panoramic. Duplicate the clouds layer (Ctrl-J/Cmd-J) and place them side by side with an 30% overlap as shown in figure4. The 30% overlap is important for the next step because Photoshop will need some room to make blending adjustments for any panoramic style techniques. Let’s move on.
Use the Auto Blend Layer Command (Edit> Auto Blend Layer) to blend both cloud layers together seamlessly. You will see the two layers pieced together with the use of layer masks. This is essentially what we did when we used the Photomerge command in Bridge on the Sand Dunes in the previous article; however, Photoshop allows us to choose Auto Blend instead of Auto Align Layer independently.
It would be easier to work on a single layer instead of two so select the two cloud layers and merge them together. Next, duplicate this layer and set its blend mode to Soft Light. This gives the sky a more contrasting look.
Apply a layer mask to paint out the effect of the Soft Light layer form the top portion of the clouds as shown in figure 7.
Now, duplicate steps 3 to 5 to create a single merged layer with the “clouds 2.tif” image.
Apply a layer mask and paint out all of the cloud details for this layer just as you did in step 6. Now, you are getting a little more drama in the sky.
Finally, let’s add some drama to the sand dunes by intensifying the shadow areas. Create a new layer (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-N/CmdOpt Shift-N) and fill it with black. Change its Blend mode to Multiply. Hold down the Alt/Opotion key on your keyboard and select the Create New Mask icon on the bottom of your layers palette. This will create a black filled layer instead of the default white. Now edit the mask using the Paint Brush and paint with white to reveal the black pixel in the shadow regions.
Use a soft edged brush for this step and be patient. However if you decide to make a rough go at it there is another way to fine tune your mask. Open the Mask palette (Window>Masks). Make sure that the mask that is associated with the black filled layer is selected by clicking directly on it. The Mask palette has options for fine tuning the pixel information. The Density slider will brighten or darken your mask.
ON the very bottom of the dialogue box you will see a button called “invert”. Click it and notice that the values on the mask will be inverted.
Invert the mask
Now above the “invert” button you will see a button called “Mask Edge”. Click it and notice that this takes you into the Refine Edge dialogue box that gives you even more controls for fine tuning your mask. Let’s explore those.