Once the total view of the composition was in place, I begin painting the missing details and adjusting the existing ones. This is the most complex and time-consuming part of the project. Starting with the house, I repainted entire portions of it such as replacing the stairs, removing the lush green foliage and replacing it with dead or dying shrubs.
Then I began to “ruin” the house and give it a sense of weathering over time by staining it. First with a light black brush using the Colour Burn filter and then digging holes in the walls and roof where I painted rotten and destroyed wooden boards. I also extended parts of the veranda and roof by hand-painting them in.
I managed to find images of dirty trees that I cloned to create the background forest behind the house. This, however, didn’t work that well to begin with because it looked totally flat. With a grey colour and a thin brush, I painted branches and trunks in with differing tones of grey to give a sense of depth to the forest. I also did the same with the plants, bushes and shrubs surrounding the house.
Returning to the two main trees in the foreground, I used the Clone tool to paint in more branches using the texture from the original image.
For the gravestones, I employed similar techniques used on the house to give them a weathered look, and also painted in two new ones. For additional effect, I painted the shadows of the tree branches on the ground and gravestones.
This is where I begin enhancing the basic image. Using the Effect Tool/Custom Sharpen feature in Photo Paint, I begin to sharpen portions that I have just painted in, such as the broken wooden boards, the branches, bushes and twigs.
To make the image more interesting, I made one of the windows in the house light up by hand painting the effect with a light yellow. To create the glow of the light, I used a soft circle brush to paint the area on a new layer, with a much lighter yellow (almost white) with no transparency, but the layer mode set to “Add”.
The sky is the result of many tests using green to grey colours and a big brush. Details such as the clouds were painted in using a thinner brush and setting some brushes to Colour Dodge and Colour Burn modes.
The final image is a pseudo-photo-real haunted mansion, employing clever digital techniques and photographic elements!
About Daniele Montella
Daniele Montella is Art Director for Artematica, an Italian advertising agency. Born in Genoa, Italy, he studied art, painting and sculpture at the Artistic Liceo. You can find him frequenting CGTalk as “DANKA”. Visit his website at www.dan-ka.com.
Daniele Montella's web site
The Haunted House - CGTalk thread