How I Created This Large Composite Matte Painting in Photoshop

In this video walkthrough watch, as I show you how I created this large composite matte painting scene in Photoshop. Here is the first image from my personal series Days Gone By, The Forest of Galtres, titled The Wolves of Galtres. Days Gone By will be a series of images based around the history, myths, and legends of York and Yorkshire. We will first be focussing on the legendary forest of Galtres which was a medieval forest, established by the Norman kings of England. The forest to the north of York stretched 15 miles from Monk Bar up to Craike -Hill.

The forest was treacherous, rife with wild beasts, rife with wolves, and haunted by thieves and robbers. It was the scene of many perils and exploits. To guide travelers through the dangerous trees the lantern tower at All Saints church on Pavement, inside the walls of York, was illuminated, a beacon of light to guide them to safety. With this series, I aim to create a sense of place and time and take inspiration from the painters of old, especially the Romanticist painters like Caspar David Friedrich, John Atkinson Grimshaw, and Louise Raynor to name a few. I wanted it to feel like an aged painting.

In the video, you will see me building up the background with images I shot on the Isle of Skye. Once that is in place it is then time to cut everything out using the pen tool. With any large composite, the key is to match the tone and color of all the pieces. I show you how to I did this with curves. Part of doing a personal series is to choose a subject you are passionate about and explore it. So when you choose your own personal series, do not follow trends. Look deep into your inspirations, beliefs, and past, it is here where the magic lies. 

This video walkthrough is great for people of all levels who want to see how a composite like this is pieced together. When I was learning I found it of great benefit to watch other artists' processes and workflow. Taking what I needed and applying it to my own.

Clinton Lofthouse's picture

Clinton Lofthouse is an Advertising/Entertainment photographer, creative artworker and Photoshop expert from the U.K. Specializing in composite and photomanipulation imagery.
When he is not chained to his desktop PC editing, Clinton likes to put on Synthwave music, wear Aviator sunglasses and pretend to be in an 80s movie.

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I'd still love to see more out of focus background and it would help cover up the cut out trees at the same time. A good way to prep for compositions is to just walk outside and focus on something in the middle of a shot and then look at the foreground and background focus. Good for a reference.

Great tutorial. Thank you for sharing.