In this tutorial, I will show you how you can Design a Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop. This is an intermediate level Photoshop tutorial so some steps can be a little tricky, but why not have a try :)

Along the way, you will learn tricks on combining objects, and add special effect (such as lava, smoke, laser ray) onto them. I have also included some techniques I have shown in the past such as cloud warping, rain brush creation and hair creation (video tutorials) if you’re interested.

Sticker printing can be helpful for branding on college campuses and in marketing youthful consumer segments.

Here is a preview of the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

overlook mountain flatten 21 500x312 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

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vip sign up 250 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

OK Let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:

Mountain

Explosion Brushsets

Tower

Debris Brushset

Grunge Brushset

Cloud Brushset

Fire Texture

Model

Space Brushset

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1440 * 900px with black background. Load the mountain stock image into Photoshop and select the mountain portion with the quick selection tool:

1 sel 500x191 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Copy and paste the selection onto our document, position it on the lower half of the canvas, and use a soft eraser to remove the top edge as shown below:

1 paste 500x179 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Add the following 3 adjustment layers as clipping mask for this mountain layer:

Black and White

1 bw Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Levels

1 lv Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Layer Mask on the levels adjustment layer: (Use the explosion brushset as eraser to remove the bottom left portion of the levels adjustment layer)

1 lv mask 500x312 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Curves

1 curves Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Layer mask on the curves adjustment layer: (Use the explosion brushset as eraser to remove the bottom portion of the levels adjustment layer)

1 curv mask 500x305 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Also add some cloud effect with the explosion brush on top edge of the mountain: (Do not paint too much cloud, a subtle effect would do)

1 paint cloud 500x82 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Here is the effect so far:

1 effect 500x175 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Step 2

Load the tower stock image into Photoshop, select the tower portion as shown below:

2 sel Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Cut out the selection and paste onto our document, resize and position it to the place shown below:

2 paste 500x135 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Add the following 3 adjustment layers as clipping mask for this tower layer:

Black and White

2 bw Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Levels (Important: Use a small soft brush to erase the right side of the tower on the layer mask of this levels adjustment layer, otherwise the whole tower would turn black)

2 lv Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Curves

2 curves Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Reduce the layer opacity of the original tower layer to around 60%, this will create a fading effect for the tower:

2 effect 500x286 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

And add some cloud around the tower with either the cloud filter, and the explosion brush set. Remember don’t add too much cloud, a subtle effect will do:

2 effect cloud 500x252 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Now let’s add some light shooting from the top of the tower – create a new layer and paint a single dot as shown below:

2 paint light 500x232 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Perspective this layer as shown below:

2 trans light 500x286 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Rotate and attach this light to the top of the tower, adjust its perspective angle again:

2 attach 500x195 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Use the explosion brush as an eraser, set 40% flow and opacity for this eraser, apply it on this light layer to create this “light through smoke/cloud” effect:

2 erase light 500x303 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Here is the effect so far:

2 effect 2 500x192 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Step 3

Now use the cloud brush, add some cloud on the sky portion: (you can use surface blur filter to soften the cloud a bit if you like)

3 cloud 500x246 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Let’s create this laser ray effect – add a new layer and paint a small dot on the the canvas, then compress and rotate it as shown below:

3 laser 490x700 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Use the explosion brushset as an eraser, erase some part of the laser light as shown below:

3 eraser Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Now let’s a some splash light on the bottom to create some ground impact for the laser. Create another new layer and paint a single white dot on it, compress it down as shown below:

3 light base 500x259 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Change the blending mode of this layer to “overlay”, duplicate it a few more times for more effect:

3 dup 500x235 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

and here is the effect so far:

3 effect 500x363 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Optinal: you can add some warped cloud around the laser:

3 cloud warp 500x293 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

If you’re interested in learning this effect, I have a video tutorial here:

Use the debris brush, add some particles on the bottom of the laser: (Use the sharpen filter to sharpen the particle a bit)

3 debris 500x302 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Step 4

Now let’s add the planet onto the image. Create a new layer and use the elliptical marquee tool to draw circle on the top right corner as shown below:

4 sel 500x270 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Keep this selection, use the grunge brush to add some texture inside it:

4 paint 500x335 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Deselect the selection, use the soft eraser to remove the edges on the planet object:

4 erase 500x303 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Add some light effect to the bottom by adding a soft white dot on a new layer, then warp it as shown below:

4 warp 500x438 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Create a new layer and paint another single dot with a soft white brush, and here is the effect so far:

4 effect 500x317 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Step 5

If you’re having difficulty with this part, here is video tutorial I made:

Now let’s add some lava effect onto the image. Load the fire texture into Photoshop, select the fire as shown below:

5 sel 478x700 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Copy and paste the selection onto our document, resize it to a smaller scale:

5 erase 500x222 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Change the layer blending mode of this new fire layer to “Vivid Light” – you will have the following effect:

4 vivid light 500x200 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Duplicate this fire layer once, and you will see the effect increases:

5 dup more effect 500x227 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Now duplicate this layer a few more times, and scatter them around the mountain – you will have the following effect:

5 dup final 500x122 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Step 6

Ok let’s add a human figure into the image. Load the model image into Photoshop and select the model:

6 sel 349x700 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Copy and paste the selection onto our document, resize and position it as shown below:

6 paste 500x221 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Add the following 3 adjustment layers as clipping mask for this model layer:

Black and White

6 bw Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Levels

6 lv Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Curves

6 curves Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Optinal: Because the hair of the model is still from the original stock photo, I added some vexel hair to make a flying/windy effect: (If you’re interested in the vexel hair technique, I have a video tutorial below to show you the steps)

Although the video tutorial above is for another model, the technique should be the same and can be applied to this image as well:

6 hair 500x240 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

and here is the effect so far:

6 effect 500x226 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

Step 7

OK for some final touches, I added some star patterns on the sky with the space brushset:

7 star 500x183 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

And add some meteor shower effect with the rain brush I created previously -if you’re interested, I have made video tutorial on how you create this rain brush in Photoshop:

7 meteor Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

I then added a few colours to dramatise the effect, and here is the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

overlook mountain flatten 21 500x312 Create Epic Surreal Volcanic Wasteland Matte Painting in Photoshop

That’s it for this Photoshop tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find it useful and inspirational! Till next time, have a great day!