Create Beautiful Sunrise Landscape Matte Painting in Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a beautiful sunrise landscape. We’ll work with different manipulating techniques through practicing common photoshop tools to understand proper use of light, shadows, color and perspective.
Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Resources Used In This Tutorial




Step 1

We will take first steps to build up the ground base. In next ones we’ll go deeper in color, lighting,shadows and other details.
I use several landscape stocks that you may notice most of them were taken in the same place but from different views, angles and distances. I name them according to the position they will be located so you can follow my steps easier.
Create a new layer and fill it with white. You can choose the size you want (mine is 1300×800). Open left mountain image. Extract the mountain and valley only (don’t take the sky and foggy parts) and move it into our white canvas. Press Cmd/Ctrl+ to active Distort Tool and scale it to create a suitable size. Hold the Shift key white resizing to keep the right proportions of it. I locate it at the left:


Step 2

Open midground image. Drag it into the middle section of main picture and remember to downsize it:

Click the second button on the bottom of Layer Pallete to add layer mask for this part. Then use soft black brush to hide selected area as shown below:

Don’t worry about the bad look of this picture as we’ll add more elements to hide these flaws later.
Step 3

Choose the right mountain and make a part with any selection tools you’re familiar with:

Place it here after changing the size:

To get the right perspective, I flip it horizontally. Go to Edit-Transform-Flip Horizontal:

Now use layer mask to eliminate the hard edges:

Step 4

The ground is more completed but still boring and uninteresting. There are lots of plant areas and they look like repeated. So I use right foreground to correct it. Make a square with Retangular Marquee Tool (M) on this stock as the image below shows:

Move it into our main document by Move Tool and position it on the right:

Blend it with the ground by layer mask and black brush. One thing you have to take care is to look at the edges of this ground before masking out and see how it can be blended with the rest. First I use soft brush to remove hard edges. Then I use brush with hardness 100% to remove soft remained parts:

Step 5

Now it’s time for adding sky. It’s better choose a sunrise image with good contrast and lighting, rich colors and we will have more chance to play with light effect as the selected one. Copy sky part as I did below:

Add it into our main scene and situate sky layer above background and under ground base (mountains, midground, right foreground):

Duplicate this sky then move it upwards and rightwards:

Use layer mask and soft black brush with big size (300-400 px, but it depends on the size of your document) to hide selected area. I vary brush opacity for different parts while blending. You can see how I masked it on layer mask:

Result:

Step 6

I want to group sky layers to edit them together. Make sky layers selected (click to choose one of them then hold Cmd/Ctrl or Shift and click another). Press Cmd/Ctrl+G and we have group of these ones. Now change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default mode group) to Normal 100%:

To make colors of sky richer, more vibrant and contrasted, I use an adjustment layer. On sky copy layer, go to New Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Selective Color:

Because the mode of group changed to Normal 100% (no Pass Through) so this Selective Color layer only affects the layers inside the group (sky ones).

Step 7

I add a new layer within this group to enhance colors of sky a little. Take soft brush with a bright yellow color (I choose #fcda81) and paint on the sides of sky. I paint with brush 100% opacity and flow on the left but with very low opacity on the right (20%). Put this layer mode to Overlay 100%:


Step 8

To add more details for the bottom of sky, I use another stock. Open sky 2 image and choose the part below: