If you ever dreamed of being a painter, but never had the time to learn how to mess with all the messy paints, Photoshop offers an alternative that is easy and will still produce pieces that you’ll be very proud of. Whether you make them just to play around with, have craft purposes in mind, or want a visually stunning piece to base a web design on, digitally painting landscapes can be fun and meet your needs.
Let’s dig right in and learn how to do a complete, hand-painted landscape in 8 steps. You will need the tool pack at www.my-photoshop.com/painttools.zip installed in Photoshop CS2 to get started. Just right-click the link and choose “Save Target As”. It will download as a .zip file that you will need to unpack. Inside the .zip is a brush set containing trees and grasses. Alternatively, you could visit Adobe Studio and find brushes of trees and grasses that you’d like to use. Install the brushes in your Photoshop/Presets/Brushes folder.
Beyond that, you don’t need anything special – this tutorial is being written with a mouse, so you don’t need a graphic tablet.
Install the brushes contained in the tool pack .zip and open Photoshop. Create a new canvas (File, New) sized at about 400 x 200 pixels, in RGB mode, with a white background. You can start out with a much larger canvas if you’re comfortable with it. What I recommend is starting out with a smaller one so you can easily get used to the process. After you’ve performed the process once, you’ll be able to adjust the techniques to suit any style of landscape you want to produce.
Make a new layer (Layer, New, Layer). With a standard round brush and 3 colors representing the sky, make some random strokes on the canvas. Remember that we’ll be using silhouettes for the trees and grasses, so you will want to base your colors on a darker sky – evening, night, dawn, or stormy skies are all good inspiration. Technically, you could do a summer’s day as well, but it won’t look quite right with the silhouettes we’re using.
Grab your Smudge Tool and set its brush size to about 28 pixels, and its strength to about 75%. If you don’t see your Smudge Tool in the tools palette, right-click the Blur Tool (the one that looks like a rain-drop) and choose the Smudge Tool from the pop-out menu. Then, start smudging your 3 colors together until you have a smooth, flowing “sky”:
Set your foreground color to white and use your elliptical shape tool to draw a half-circle “sun” on the lower portion of your canvas. Rasterize this shape by right-clicking its layer and choosing “Rasterize Layer”. Then, lower its “Fill” to about 45%. Finally, click “Filter”, choose “Blur” and from the menu click “Gaussian Blur”. Set the pixels to 2.0. You’ll have a setting/rising sun that reflects the colors of the sky around it, a rather dreamy look.
Set your foreground color to black. Then, create a new layer (Layer, New, Layer) and use 1 or 2 of the tree brushes in the tool pack to add tree silhouettes on each side of the canvas. You may need to adjust the size of the trees to fit your canvas, depending on what size of canvas you’re working on. To do that, just move the slider down in the brushes menu. Also, don’t worry about how high your trees are placed – the trunks don’t need to be rooted to the bottom of the canvas, becasuse we’re going to cover them up in just a moment.
Make another new layer. Then, using one of the grass brushes, create a thinner grass line at the bottom. The grass brushes included in the tool pack will create a dimensional look that picks up some of the colors of your sky. You’ll probably want to lower the size of these brushes as well. Then, grab a second style of grass from the brushes and add height to the sides.
Hit your Custom Shape tool (it’s located “behind” the standard shape tool – right-click the shape tool and click the one that looks like a splat). Load the “Animals” shape set, select the bird shape, and create a small flock of birds in the upper left 1/3 of your canvas. To keep the proportions of your bird shapes right, hold down the shift key on your keyboard while you drag the shapes out.
We’re going to grab another shape set – “Nature”. This time, select a leaf shape and draw several small, falling leaves. This will draw the eye back into the canvas – make it come from the lower right 1/3.
There are lots of photoshop mac free apps you can download out there. With that, you can merge the layers and save! Absolutely beautiful.