here is a small tutorial about one of the methods, how I make backgrounds of my pictures.
The brushes that I use in this tutorial (Photoshop) are as follows:
1) Simulate rounded brushes or 2 inch brushes. I don´t have any specific settings otherwise. Play around with them, to find the setting that suits you best.
2) Simulates a fan brush. I use this one for certain types of waves and in general the water surface. Futhermore I use this brush for the needles and branches of evergreens.
3) I use these for hair strands, especially if I´m trying to create realistic hair.
First of all, we´ll create a nice sky.
Apply the colour row for row with an airbrush. Gradually from dark blue to light turquoise, or any colour you fancy.
The important thing to remember is to apply the colour top to bottom, wheras the dark colour would be at the tob and the light colour at the bottom.
Next Step is to apply the motion filter, vertical direction. This smooths out the brush strokes an you achieve a homogeneous gradient.
Of course, you can save yourself some work, by using the gradient tool. But I prefer the former method. Because you get more facets and structure in the gradients.
Now I start using the WB (woriking brush): simulates the right side of the fan brush (above image(3))
Setting: Airbrush, Opacity: 70%
And paint the top of a cloud with circular strokes, consider the shape of the cloud and where you´re light source is commnig from.
After this, we ever so lightly pull the colour in upward strokes. To create the fluffiness of the cloud. Used brush: round brush, smudge tool, Weight: 40 - 60% (for graphic tablets)
For the mouse users, a setting of 20-30% would be adequate, for lack of control, and brush over the cloud multiple times. Be careful, to not lose the dark areas. Otherwise you´re cloud will turn into the flying blob.
If it becomes to weak in contrast, paint in some more white colour.
Looks pretty good already, don´t you think? Ißm not to happy with the lower part,though.
That´s why, I´m going to give the cloud a shadow colour on a lower layer (Photoshop layer). You can use a round brush with airberush setting for this.
More smudge work with the round brush. Paint in a few details, here and there, with white or dark blue colour. (normal round brush / fan brush (right corner) with a soft edge setting)
Then lightly pull the colur upward with the smudge tool, while doing that make a half circular motion.
Very LIGHTLY Weight: 20-30% . Do many small strokes.
To finish it off, ever so lightly pull the smudge tool from left to right (vertical 2 inch brush) Pull the cloud fringes and *squggle* them, to get a turbulence kind of look. Depending on preference or necessity use the graussian blur filter on the cloud, About 0,6px should do.
Onwards to the creation of mountains: Firstl of all, we paint in a rough shape, and lay out a coarse silhouette. Smudge it with the caligraphic brush. Keep to the angles of the mountain, otherwise it will look odd.
The great thing about this technique is that , the structures crystallize automatically.
Now then, we hav a rough shape. Now let´s fill in the background, to give the mountain substance. Followed by more contures and details. With diffrent colours and hues (brown,grey).
We´ll need snow, for this task I´ll use the round brush (1), set scattering a little higher. And start smattering it on.
In this step of the process I also work with a normal round brush or a caligraphic brush.
I paste the mountain with white for snow, for the shadowy areas I use a dark icy blue for the snow, that lies in the shadow.
Smudge it all, keep the angles in mind.
The trick to create Depth in the scene, is to use fog. Create new Layer roughly scribble a few vertical crooked lines with an airbrush , colour: white. Then use the motion blur first horizontally, then vertically (Direction/Angle of motion blur)
Now to the trees in the distance.
Use caligraphic brush vertically. Make many single Strokes starting from the sides of the picture, and move to the middle of the canvas, gradually making the strokes smaller. Finish it off by smuding it vertically with a round brush(1). Insert one or more evergreens and paint the branches with the fan brush (3). Blur the edges should they be to drastic in contrast.
Colour in the water from the left and right of the canvas. (dark blue). Keep the center empty. Apply the motion blur filter horizontally, and once again with less weight vertically. The horizontal lines in the water should still be visible.
Take some of the colour of the mountain and treeline, and smudge it down vertically. (vertical caligraphic brush) A bit of land mass was missing,I added it to the scene and smudged it´s colour downward as well.
Smudge the water and treeline reflection lightly horizontally with a round brush. This creates the illusion of water reflection and give the water surface a wavey texture. I use the caligraphic brush for waves and froth.
For a near standing tree, draw the stem. And fill in the branches and needles with afan brush. Start from the top work down the stem gradually.The nearer you get, to the root of the tree, make wider strokes. Repeat process with snow colours. Finished! Ehrm.. sorry I haven´t painted that many eergreens until now.^^;
You´re result should look roughly lik this. Unless you thought up your own little scene.