Comp a scene together
I pick a base image that’s close to my imagined composition and lighting scheme. This gives me a foundation to build on, and a reference palette that I can match the colours of the other source materials to. Here I’m using an image from Noah Bradley’s free New Zealand reference pack ( www.noahbradley.deviantart.com).
After some colour adjustments I comp more photos into the scene and paint in some parts, using colours that are present in the photos. I want to add more depth and detail to the image, and achieve this by layering the mountain ranges and adding more low clouds, fog and haze between them.
I want to create a cinematic fantasy image, so introduce more clouds – some painted, some from images using various layer blending modes. I add the classic pirate ship as my main focal point and repaint the lighting to guide the viewer towards that area, for better storytelling purposes.