Painting a landscape

In our first image, we want to start on the landscape with our basic colour palette. Ideally, I like to start off with my background layer first which would be in our case, the clouds. So here I'm going to think about what colour scheme I wanted for the image, something cold, warm, hot, or dark. For this particular image I wanted more of a warm feeling, something that you'd find in Arizona or Texas, on an early morning. So first I'll lay down a solid blue, just to use it as my starting point. After that I'm going to drop some browns, a focal point which would be the white, and some hard browns to remind me where my dark colours will go. What we do here is just use brief strokes, nothing too defined or that even gives a clear sense of what the image is going to be. Just hints will do.

Next, we're going to use a different technique called smudging. It's more of a finger painting technique, used to just merge the colours together but with rough-yet smooth edges. To achieve this technique, you'll have to configure your brush settings, something like the setting I used in the image below.

After you have messed with your settings and decided on what you feel comfortable with, then we can move on. Now as you can see with this blending technique, the brush can be a little wild-especially when set on Pen Pressure. The harder you press on the brush, the more it will scatter the colours and push them aside. Think of a Wind shield Wiper effect, kind of. I first started with the left side of the image, blending those colours first. What you do not want to do, is go insanely quick and just smudge everything at once, take your time and be precise with it.

Here, I started to blend more colours and smudge some more. But what I also did was go over some of the, what felt like to me, empty spots with a soft brush. With the soft brush, I made my own little quick brush strokes for background clouds or to just simply fill in negative space. You don't want all blue skies, but you also don't want all brown skies either. You want an even mix of both, so one doesn't overpower the other.

As we progress, I start off first with the left side and add some more brown coloured clouds up top. After I've painted my clouds in the corner, I will go back to the paint brush and set it to Pen Pressure with just a simple Hard Brush. This is where I can start to block in some blues, beiges, and browns near the white spot. What I'm doing here mostly is just softly scribbling in spots here and there; you don't want one solid cloud block, because technically clouds aren't 100% solid, obviously. What I'll do with the random strokes is just scribble lines back and forth to achieve a faded look (remember Pen Pressure is on).

Now we go back to the blending brush. Up in the right hand corner, I'll blend the colours together, creating more of a faint cloud and not thick hard lines any more. That's why this brush is quite good to use! After that, you can detail your remaining clouds that you have started. You'll notice a change in the left hand side of the upper cloud. A dark brown outline, which gives more depth to it rather than the flatness it, had before.

Next, we'll take a larger leap than before. This is a lot more of drawing than blending in this one. I used a size 9 brush, with pen pressure on and would eye drop colours from the image while marking lines and strokes over my clouds. Some will be for rays of light; others will just be for the lighter part of the cloud breaking through. As you can see though, I put some hard blues and light blues in there to break up the sky. Mostly near the focal point, I put some baby blue blobs up on top. At the bottom, I blended some of the colours together, while adding some new hues to the image. What those will be will basically break up the browns from the outer sky and cause a wall between the clouds and the soon to be landscape, which is painted dark brown at the bottom.

Now we can go back to the blending tool and fix up the bottom of the clouds some more. And also, you can start to blend the other colours that you added in. Remember, as the distance fade, your colours should become smoother as if they're hit with a Depth of Field look. Once you have the achieved look that you're aiming for, you can start to touch up the clouds some more. What helps is if you have an already made Cloud brush, which I have a few of, and just blob in some random cloud colours to give more definition. When finished with the touching up, it's your choice to add some birds to give it more of a lively feel.

Real easy step, just use a soft brush, with a yellow-almost white colour, set it to overlay, low opacity and just brush in a few strokes to make your light beams.

The mountains in here are simple; I just used the same colour as the ground, and first blocked them in. Certain shapes don't all have to be the same but just mix it up a little bit. As the mountains go further into the background, they drop in saturation, so remember that. Once I have my mountains blocked in, you'll have to highlight them from the sun beams, which will just be a lighter brown or so forth. Use a size 4 brushes, pen pressured, to scribble some light source on them.

Next, you're going to be starting to smooth out the colours some more, bring down the hard shapes and just blending them over the other clouds. To do this, I used a soft brush again, and turned it on Flow. While lowering the Opacity to the slightest of 10%, you can really start to blend those hard edges in with the soft ones within a few strokes. We're also going to use this step on the bottom, underneath the clouds. Mostly that giant dark blue blob across the bottom layer. In step 9 they look way too hard to be in the sky, so we need to patch those up, by again going over in strokes. As you can see, I've also gone and shaped the bottom mountains again, just keeping them formed and not thrown in there. I've also gone ahead and added some more negative space to the clouds on the right side and at the top, so they don't hog up the entire picture.

Now you might be thinking, 'whoa where did that bottom come from?' Well I decided to open the picture more, so it's not so one sided, and I obviously took some inspiration from the Route 66 drive. So by doing that, I cropped a larger half at the bottom into the picture, and then used a hard brush to fill in my colours. To extend the perspective, I added some phone line towers down the road; it gives it a longer feel. In the clouds I wanted to add some bloom to the cloud. By doing so I use a soft brush set to screen, and pick a pretty pale blue to fill in those negative space spots in the clouds, as if the sky is pushing itself through. Also the main focal point, the white, I blotched in some other colours because the white felt too strong to me.

Now for the road texture, I created a dark brown texture on a new layer that would fit inside the road space, and then set it to the Filter/Texture/Grain. After I had the right texture I wanted, I then set it to Overlay over the pavement. I then painted two white lines down the road, ass well as the yellow follow lines in the middle. Using a brush on Overlay, I created some glare off the sun onto the road. Once you're finished with that, merge all layers together.

For the final step, I wanted to fill in that ground on the left and right with just something simple. So I used the Grass brush something I would never use on anything else, but it did work here. Also by setting two beige colours to it, I started to fill in my grass/weeds around the area. Then I used the dodge tool, on a soft brush and started to highlight the pavement some more.

Then you can use a three sized brush, and create some oil stains on the ground, or use a light colour and create some more glimmered speckles of the ground or rubble. And that's it for this tutorial!

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