Create a Futuristic, Fantasy Matte Painting
Matte painters often take several photos and combine them with 3D elements to create futuristic or fantasy scenes for movies, film, or video games. In this tutorial, we will demonstrate how to render objects in Cinema 4D and then combine them with stock photos to create a really nice scene in Photoshop.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.
- Base Plate
- Brush Stock Image
- C4D Models (Included in Download Files)
- C4D Render (Included in Download Files)
Step 1: Setting up the 3D Models
Now let's get started with a little about the setup of the 3d models; I have included the scene and models for C4D that you can download, nevertheless some quick explanation for the most important aspects since we can’t cover all the modeling and setup in this tutorial, but believe me I use very simple modeling techniques, and I don't do heavy texturing; what comes out of C4D always ends up modified in PS it’s just simple shapes I can work with later. Well here we go; to correctly position our 3d elements we setup a background in our scene so we can look at our base plate and position every element including our light source correctly.
Then we load a simple new material for our background object and as texture we load our base plate.
Before rendering we make sure we have selected the Alpha channel option plus the straight alpha so we get an image where we can easily extract our render models without background.
And also be sure that your render size it equal in ratio to that of the original base plate, and then I usually render it a bit bigger; but the ratio its very important to keep the same perspective and the location of every model, if you setup the render wider, the background will look stretched and the position plus perspective will be wrong. This setting is directly tied on how the background object looks in the perspective.
And that is it, this is how we see our models on top of our background image, and this is how we easily position them where we want them for our image and we can now hit render. Remember all the models, the scene file and the final render are included in the downloads yet choosing and knowing the basics of a 3d package will be very useful in your matte painting efforts.
Step 2: Painting on the landscape
Ok so here is our base plate; a very sexy free image you can use for this learning venture. You can find the link in the Tutorial Assets section.
We are going to start by painting some extra features in our terrain to make it a bit more dramatic and unusual plus also to help us frame our composition a bit. So let's zoom into this section.
So let's make a new layer where we can start painting
And then let's grab a blocky Photoshop standard brush and set it up about 14px in size.
Now throughout this tutorial we will be sampling color from our base plate to avoid any inconsistencies in our painting, so let's start by picking up some shadow color in this section.
Just start blocking a shape that will be our addition to our landscape, don't worry about composition and detail right now we are only setting up the general shapes to check upon position and composition.
Once you’ve painted the general shape, you can setup the brush like shown below to add some hint of highlights and other color shade.
You can see its very important to sample color from the underlying landscape to maintain coherence and blending with the existing image, plus also follow the features of the terrain below.
Like in our next image we start by sampling from the sunlight area of our section and paint this section acordingly; then we sample from the shadows and paint the shadow section.
Like in our next image we start by sampling from the sunlight area of our section and paint this section accordingly; then we sample from the shadows and paint the shadow section.
Then we sample some rocky highlights and paint sections of those in our newly created mountains; remember we are not detailing yet, we just generally want to setup the shapes and see how good these will look. So right now experiment and paint in, erase, add, delete until you find cool shapes that you like. The only rule, follow the features and shades in the landscape.
Let’s move on to the right side of our image and add some landscape features there.
And as we did before we sample our colors from the existing landscape and paint with them using the same blocky brush just varying the size if wanted or needed; but remember we are still just blocking in rough shapes even if tempted, I recommend not going into detail yet.
So in this case this is what I have come up with after painting the general shapes as we did before we paint in some highlights from where the sun its coming and different shades depending how further away our mountain is as you can see in the blue arrow marks.
Now let's move on to the upper left of our image where we have this interesting rock formations.
And again we pick up our colors from our base plate as shown below; highlights and shadows.
And block in some rough shapes for these rock features on the left, remembering what we have learned; follow the base plate in both color and features, no detail yet guys just some shapes we will get on it later on.
Step 3: Transportation structures.
For this step we will be using the Pen tool to draw some smooth curves that will help us to create the base for our transportation structure. So let's grab this tool and be sure the settings are set as marked below.
Now let's imagine and plan where do we want this structure to start and where do we want it to go, keeping in mind it will have to be supported along the way.
Now let's change the color for this shape by selecting it in its own layer and choosing some lighter neutral gray.
Next we will create a new layer underneath our shape, where we will be painting the shapes for the support for it.
We grab our same blocky brush, quite small and using the same light gray we start painting our support structures. We have to be a bit of engineers right now to give our shape some coherent solid support; if it looks flimsy it will show and look bad.
These are the shapes I have blocked, taking into consideration the position and direction the curves have. No detail yet guys just rough shapes.
Now let's go a bit to the right and add another section of our raised structure leading out of our image view in the same way we did the first section.
Then we paint our basic support structures for this new section, just blocking out the shape in the same way as we previously did.
Step 4: A couple of adjustment Layers
Right here we are going to make a couple of adjustment layers that will start to lead us into the final look of the image plus we modify some of the coloring of the image. These adjustment layers provide us with a fast non-destructive way of evaluating our image and decide which way we are going with it. Besides that, knowing and using adjustment layers in tandem with layer masks its extremely important in this kind of work to blend, shade, apply effects, and finalize an image, so let's start learning this by creating first a levels adjustment layer as below.
Plus we go ahead and create a hue/saturation layer.
Now for the hue/saturation let's just modify the saturation a bit to relax the very intense colors of the original image.
And for the levels layer we adjust these three settings shown below; you can either type the values or move the slider arrows, yet I suggest you start training your eye and see what looks good for you.
And we end up with these two layers which are created with an already setup layer mask highlighted below. Layer masks are quite useful and a very important part of this method and we are going to use them to apply the effect only where we want or need it.
For this let's grab a big soft brush with reduced opacity of about 55 or 45 % so we can paint off the de-saturation effect where we don't want it.
Bellow you can see the areas where I brushed with black the areas where I still want the original saturation. So the way that image masks work its this: when you make one or an effect or adjustment layer has one attached, it is created filled with white, and that means it is applied to all the image. Now when you paint in these masks, you can do so with black or white, white means all the effect or adjustment goes through unaffected, and if you paint with black, the more you paint, the more you will remove the effect. In this case with a big soft brush and the opacity lowered then we softly reduce the desaturation layer applied.
Step 5: Lets bring in our 3D render on to our scene.
Lets open up the .tiff image TUT SETUP included in the source download which is the render from c4d we did on the first step. When open we click on the channels tab next to the layer tab and we can see an extra channel at the bottom; that is our alpha that will allow us to easily cut out only the models. We do an option + click (ctrl + click on windows) on the alpha channel thumbnail.
And everything its selected, now we just copy and paste on our piece on top the rest of our layers or drag the selection to our image so we get all our rendered models all neatly cut with transparent background in a separate layer that we can adjust and position separately from the rest.
Here below its what we get, if we need to move something or want to modify something we just select the section with our lasso and position it where we want it. Also we can see we have work to do since our shadows don't really correspond to the plate shadows mostly on the far away objects.
So this is how we are easily going to apply adjustments to our object layer, let's create a levels layer on top of it.
Since we only want this layer to affect our 3d objects we will create a clipping mask for it; we right click on our newly created levels layer and select "create clipping mask". This will make our adjustment layer to affect only our objects layer without having to draw or create a detailed mask, plus we can apply as many as we need and keep them clipped to our layer below.
We will adjust our levels layer to reduce the intensity of our shadows a bit so they are in the same range as the shadows of our base plate for our far away objects; we can clearly see that these shadows have much more atmospheric influence than the shadows closer to the camera; so ge ahead and do the adjustment, I know by now you can do it.
One thing we can notice while doing this its this white line we are getting on the edge of our newly imported models, so we have to get rid of it, we can go all around our model with a 1px brush carefully erasing it; or we can do it the easy way. I know you don't want the easy way so go ahead and spend a couple of hours erasing the white border. Ahh ok well for those who don't look forward to this here is the easy way. :)
Really easy to do go to your layer menu, all the way down select Matting - Defringe and in the dialog box that appears type 1px if its not already selected, and hit OK.
That is it, the line is gone, now let's wait a bit for those still erasing the line by hand.
Ok so now we need a bit of soft blue cast on our models that is present also on the far away sections, and we will do this with a hue/saturation adjustment layer. Just select the 3dmodel layer, create the adjustment layer and it automatically have the clipping mask applied.
For this layer I will explain a bit; first we click on the colorize check box, a blue hue comparable to what we have on those far away shadows and desaturate a bit so its not too much. Remember that this layers can and will be adjusted as we go along depending on how we progress with the overall image; its just better to have it created already so we can go back anytime to fine tune our settings.
And also since this new layer changes the appearance and influence of our levels we adjust accordingly keeping an eye on how does it look. The main purpose of these layers its to adjust for the objects that are further away from the camera point of view, later we will eliminate these layers influence from the objects that appear closer by painting off on our layer masks.
We want these buildings to be adjusted from this image below too.
Something like this where the shadows pair up with our base plate, of course we must take into account that our buildings surface its quite a bit more reflective than the trees and ground below it.
In the image below I have circled the three main sections where the influence of the atmosphere its different. The red circle indicates where the most influence must be applied, the yellow circle encompasses the only object that is halfway between the background objects and the foreground building; and of course the blue circle is the closest to our point of view. So we will brush our mask accordingly.
Now we will create another layer to adjust the highlights in our buildings like the screen below.
And we will end up with 3 layers that are managing our 3d render.
Let's name this layers so we can understand what each of them do for us. We have the SHADOWS layer that manage the intensity of our shadows, we have the BLUE CAST layer that manages how much blue atmospheric influence affects our objects, and we finally just created our HIGHLIGHTS layer that manages the intensity of such highlights of our models layer. And very important we can see where I have painted off the influence of these layers with black. For example the blue cast affects much more on the background section than the foreground so its almost eliminated from the objects closer to our point of view with a very big soft brush. You must experiment with these layers and get used to the usage of such adjustment management which its the base recourse you will use extensively to properly blend and manipulate not only 3d object layers but other photos or manipulated elements plus even the final effects of our image.
Step 6: Time to add more detail on our painted landscape elements.
Its time to go back to the shapes we roughly blocked in our first steps and refine with the help of some settings in the brush palette. Lets grab our trusted blocky Photoshop brush, make it quite small and adjust some settings in preparation for painting detail in our landscape features.
Now let's see below what settings are selected, we have SHAPE DYNAMICS, SCATTERING, TEXTURE, TRANSFER, and SMOOTHING. For shape dynamics, scattering and transfer, we select the option PEN PRESSURE so all intensity its managed from our pen tablet as we previously did when painting in the rough shapes.
For our TEXTURE option we will select this included Photoshop texture below and set the scale to about 25. We will be turning this texture option on and off to easily add random appearance to our strokes where needed yet we wont be using it to paint the detail in our image, its just a tool we will be using, and it should not dictate how we paint. Thant being said most of our features will be painted with our hand controlling our pen following how the same landscape features look on our base plate.
Lets start painting, as we did before we sample color from our existing colors and start adding detail to make these crude brush strokes look part of our landscape.
We add randomness, we add rock and highlight detail and we follow the landscape features, plus we refine all the edges. Let’s just make sure there are no traces left of crude brush strokes.
Lets continue with the rocks to the left in this section below.
We can clearly see close up how much the crude brush strokes stand out and how much we have to brush this appearance away.
OK the same as before we sample color for highlights shadows and everything in between from our existing color.
Since we will be painting these vertical features in our terrain, we are better off rotating our brush a bit like shown below so its very easy to follow and create our rock walls.
Bellow you can see how the use of the texture affects our brush strokes easily and randomly and we will be using it to start with, but as said before we will be finalizing everything without this option enabled.
This is where we end up carefully following the existing features of the terrain plus the shadow and highlights according to our light source.
OK We have one more section to detail to the right of our piece; this section below doesn’t need as much detail as the other since its quite far away and hidden with atmospheric haze plus some glow from the light source, yet we must push through and also detail this section a bit.
Here we don't need to start with some texture, or use it at all so we leave the option disabled.
Repeating the same process we use the color already existing and sample from it to add our detail, here its much more subtle and very important to select the colors from the given depth to keep it real.
We add features to our highlights as shown below, but also as important to add detail in the shadows.
And this is what we end up with, good looking blended mountains to the right that add interest and frame our action.
Here I added two images that show our final result on the landscape painting plus another without this so you can see how it works very well for our composition and for the impact of our landscape.
Step 7: Detailing the transport structure
Now we are going to detail the transport-raised structure we did previously and make it look like part of our image. This step is quite long and has a bunch of images to follow so be patient and try to grasp the overall objective we want to achieve and not to copy values from the screen capture.
Let’s grab all the shape layers for the curves and merge them together so we can modify them as needed.
Now we have all our layers in one ready to start painting further detail.
Next we will select our blocky Photoshop brush and set it to 3 pixels
Let’s leave only shape dynamics and transfer selected in the brush palette with pen pressure control as before, since this time we want defined shapes for our structure.
Ok so we are making this rough shapes look like real objects so we will start by adding some depth to them by painting in the shadow sections of the support structures, and of course picking up our colors from the base plate.
In the screen below you can see what is our objective and how adding this makes our structure gain depth and substance in our image.
We will do this on all our support sections all around our raised transport structure, taking into consideration the relative position and how the 3d perspective should be.
As we go around our structure we now need to add highlighted sections instead of shadows, and for this we will select a light gray as shown below.
Here I included the image so you can see how in this other section we are painting the highlight exposed sections, but the 3d perspective effect is the same.
Now since the wall facing us is in the shadows too, we have to obscure it a bit more than the rail above; so let's select a bit darker gray as this below.
And let's paint only the section that faces away from the sun so we keep the perspective looking correct as shown here.
We have to do this all over and give 3d qualities to all of the support structures. Now you can also see that I added a white border/rail all around the upper curve shape, let's see how this was done.
For this we will grab our pen tool again and click on the setting below so we only mark the vectors instead of creating shapes.
We use this tool to mark a vector around the border like shown below.
Then let's make sure our brush tool has these settings selected plus a defined brush instead of a soft one and a light gray color; you will see why in a moment.
Then let's select our pen again and while our pen cursor its on top any section of our vector line; we right click and from the menu select STROKE PATH.
In the dialog box that appears let's make sure brush its selected and the path will be stroked with our 2px defined brush. Now carry on and do the same thing all around both sides of our raised structure.
Now we will apply a simple drop shadow to this layer so it saves us time in casting the shadow all around
Now we have to erase the shadows in certain sections where we don't need it; so let's flatten this layer and effect using another layer like shown below, just make another layer on top of this one select both, and then right click merge layers.
Below you can see an example of where we need to erase our shadow, so let's take care of that all around the image.
Ok now let's move on and make some changes in our simple supports below.
Lets grab our eraser and with our trusty blocky brush, very small let's start erasing holes in our support structure to make it look more interesting.
As you see in the image below just erasing holes in each support all over our structure.
And then applying the corresponding highlights and shadows to each section so we maintain the perspective 3d look to all of them.
Now before we go any further let's make a correction pause here since I realized the size of our background buildings was a bit to large, so let's just scale it down by selecting each section like below.
Just about this size will be enough for me; now it looks more coherent to the rest of our image.
Lets repeat the operation in the other models to the right as shown.
Ok pause its over drop the chips and back to our image. We will now add the element seen below, a little Epcot like monorail that will ride our structure.
We will do this very easily, let's grab our rounded rectangle tool.
A white color.
And let’s shape a rectangle as the one below.
Then we need to distort this shape and place it in our raised transport structure; so we select edit-transform path- distort.
Lets set it in place then hit enter or double click on it to apply.
Next we need to rasterize our layer so we can paint some other detail on our rectangle.
And now a very important step once we have rasterized our layer let's lock our pixels by clicking on the icon shown below, so whatever we paint doesn’t go outside existing pixels.
So we grab our soft round brush once again and make it small about 12px and then sample some gray shadow from our same structure.
And we carefully paint a shadow as shown below for the lower half of our little rail.
Now let's reduce our brush down to 1px and paint some divisions in our train and some hints of windows, cockpit and such.
Next up we will use the pen tool again to create a division down the middle of the track (red arrows) and paint some horizontal divisions along with it. (blue arrows)
So we use the pen tool as we did for the rails, but this time down the middle of our track using this time a dark gray color, and as we did before let's right click on the path and select stroke path.
Then by using our blocky brush at 1 or 2px size we paint along some lines across to finalize this detail all over our track.
And with this same tiny brush we add some detail to our support structures hinting some concrete unions that make it look so much better.
We go all around our track doing the same to all support bases. That is it we have finished with this long step, you can go ahead and maybe have an idea to add more detail or maybe cars instead of trains, its your choice and by all means have some fun.
Step 8: Shadow Play
Now to make all of our transport structure look better and more blended; we need to make shadows for all of it, so let's go ahead and create a new layer where we will use our soft brush of a size that adjusts to the section we will work on, in this case 26px will do.
We will pick the color from the adjacent shadows and apply it where it’s indicated below.
In the image below you can see how the shadow its applied and the effect it has on making the structure feel much more integrated to our image.
Lets go on to this next section to apply the same kind of shadow to each section.
Again we sample our color from the shadows that are close by so that they don't look out of place.
We can adjust the opacity of our layer a bit when needed
Here you can see below all this sections with their respective shadows, it looks so much better; now we need to go all around our structure adding all the shadows in the same fashion.
Step 9: Cutting off some edges.
Before we go any further, we will do some edge adjustment to our buildings in this quick step. So grab our overused blocky brush quite small.
Instead of erasing we will use a layer mask and block the shapes with black.
We need to setup the opacity of our brush back to 100% so our brush its sharp on the edges.
Then as seen below we erase or mask off where the structure meets the terrain and with this take another step in the blending of our image.
And the same as we did before, with a white color selected for the foreground, we right click on the path and select "stroke path."
Next also in the same way as we did before we will save some time applying a drop shadow to this stroke as seen below.
Then we will apply the effect making a new empty layer, then selecting both and merging them together.
Now in this same layer we will paint some vertical support for this rail with our same Photoshop brush, very small of about 1 or 2 px.
We paint all this vertical supports all around the platform and pick a shadow color to apply shadows where needed.
Now we will go on and add some texture, dirt etc to our concrete structure. Lets make a new layer as shown below clipped to our 3d objects layer automatically by selecting the 3d layer and then clicking on the new layer icon.
We will keep our blocky brush and in the brush palette set the texture option back on
Then simply go around our building painting some random dirt or wear and tear on the surface, very subtle erasing easily where needed.
Step 10: People brush
Yes moving on we will now create a people brush so we can easily add some human elements to our platform, so first let's go through the process of creating such brush. We will use this free image (link included) to create our brush.
Select the lasso tool with a feather of just 1px and go around the silhouette of both guys; doesn’t have to be perfect, we just went the silhouette so it doesn’t matter if you miss a spot or two.
You should end up with a selection more or less like the one below.
Once you have the selection just copy and paste it to a new layer and delete the original background layer.
So now we have the guys isolated but we don't need all the colors and detail so let's get rid of those adjusting the levels as shown, and we end up with an all black silhouette.
Now we need some generic shadow below our silhouette so we create a new layer below where we will paint some soft shadow.
So let's select our big soft brush and paint a delicate shadow in this new layer below our silhouette as shown.
That is it, now let's draw a square selection around our centered silhouette holding the shift key so we get a perfect square, and go to the edit menu and select "define brush" as shown. In the dialog box that appears either rename the brush if you want, or just hit OK.
And that is it we now have a new people brush; yet we still have to adjust settings in the brush palette so it’s usable for our purpose. First set in shape dynamics the minimum diameter to a high value as shown so the difference between strokes its minimal, plus we also click on the "Flip x Jitter" option so the strokes vary on the X axis. This means each stroke will be flipped horizontally automatically.
Now we activate scattering and in the Brush Tip Shape section let's adjust the size and the spacing so we get defined separate groups.
Ok with the brush all setup let's select a darker gray and start painting in some silhouettes.
And then a couple of flicks of the pen we get 4 silhouettes that look different from each other and are placed randomly on the platform.
Well I have several other brushes with different settings prepared in the same way, which I will use to populate my platform a bit more.
So here is what I have come up with, several instances of a couple of brushes designed to speed up something that would take quite a bit more time.
Next, below this layer we will need another one to paint extra shadows that will complement the ones integrated to our brushes because of the angle of our light source we need longer and angled shadows. So let's create a layer below our people here.
And we grab a small soft brush with reduced opacity of about 45%
Below you can see how I painted the shadows keeping an angle that corresponds to the light source in the image, of course not completely black because we have quite a bit of global illumination all around plus a bit of atmospheric influence even in this foreground object.
After we have finished and are happy with our shadows, we will lock the pixels in both layers, so we can start painting some highlights and color variations.
Lets first of all grab an almost white color, our very small brush and paint some highlights in each of the figures only on the side that the sunlight will be hitting them.
Now let's pick some dark blue and start adding some random variations that will indicate clothing and add to the random appearance of the silhouettes.
Then we will repeat this step selecting some green, red, brown, and continue adding some variations in the same way.
Keep adding the variations of any color you want, just remember we don't need a rainbow nor do we need bright colors here. And that is it we have finished adding this human presence in our image.
Step 11: Adding a couple of light enhancing adjustment layers.
This is something I do on almost every image I make when I reach the final stages, I tend to start adding layers of adjustment and effects of how the final image will look like since the last effects and additions will need the overall look of the image closer to a final stage so we can correctly apply these last steps. So with this in mind let's go ahead and add this photo filter layer on top all other layers. I love the photo filter layers since I started many years ago as a photographer; when Adobe introduced this layers I instantly knew what to do with them and what to expect.
Lets use the warming filter 85 and adjust the density quite high like below.
Now let's add another layer, this time a levels adjustment.
Lets setup this layer like shown below to darken the scene a bit and add more contrast from the highlight zone.
Ok so let's start with our photo filter, this is how it looks over all the image, but we will paint it off with a mask since we only want it to affect the zone where our bright light source is.
We will grab our soft brush make it huge, and paint with black in our layer mask to remove it where we don't want it.
We will eliminate gradually as shown in the direction of our light flow.
Then we do the same to our levels layer, we only want increased contrast in the right of our image.
This is what we get after we apply and mask both layers; a more dramatic intense scene which will work perfectly for our next step.
Step 12: Adding glow and illumination to our windows.
Ok now guys we have come a long way, yet we still have some things to do, for instance we have all these windows that are gray and dull, let's do something about that.
Lets pick up an intense but not too bright blue like this below.
And we grab our pen tool again this time for a shape instead of only a path like shown below and we trace a shape over all the window section.
Once this is done we set the layer mode to vivid light.
And then we rasterize the layer so we can erase a bit of it where needed.
Here is the cool intense subtle blue we get, now we just have to erase spots where the shape was a bit off like the red arrow shows, and also the section where our light source its hitting shown in the red circle since this interior illumination will be visible mostly in the shadow areas. Now we will repeat this procedure on all windows in this building and also the others further away.
Step 13: Lets add some of this to our ships too.
We want to add this same kind of interesting details to the ships like shown below and we will paint these in the same layer that we have the windows already
With the same blue selected that we used for the windows now we paint with our small blocky brush some blue cast in the sections where we want this effect as shown below.
Then we select an almost white color like this selected here.
And we paint some random highlights that follow where we painted the blue hue. That is it very simple and fun, you can go crazy with this and add over the other ship just keep it simple and on the shadow sections.
Step 14: Lets Create Some Light Rays
Getting close now to finishing our image. What we will create now its one of the final touches we will be adding to our image; the light rays coming from our light source, are very dramatic and a sweet effect to add. Lets grab our soft brush with about 50 px.
Next let's choose an almost white somewhat warm color like shown here
Now with these settings let's paint some random strokes on the right corner of our image where the light comes from.
Then we access our motion blur filter like shown below.
On the dialog box that pops out we set it up as shown below.
And this is what you should get, but we are not finished yet, it doesn’t look like we want it.
Lets apply the same motion blur as shown below or by hitting command + F.
After this we repeat both steps again, painting some strokes in the corner and then using the same motion blur a couple of times.
We can see the effect increases in length and randomness each time; so now we modify our layer mode to multiply as shown here.
Looking quite nice, yet we repeat the first steps once again adding some more paint and blurring it again.
There now we have good looking light rays, but we are not finished yet.
We will access our distort tool in the edit menu as shown below.
Then we will distort our rays layer as shown below to get a nice spread and to make them a bit longer.
This is what we have after finishing up with the light rays, looking quite sweet and we could finish right now but let me give you a couple of extra details we can add.
Step 15: Lets Add Some Extra Details
First off let's include a number for our spaceship to add some realism to its existence. Just pick up the type tool select a font you like for this and type your number.
Then we rasterize the layer as shown so we can modify the shape of the text and set it up into perspective.
So now we select our distort command as shown here.
Lets now set it up into perspective and change the layer mode to overlay, plus maybe reduce the opacity a bit depending on how you want it to look.
OK so the other extra thing you might have fun with and also makes our image better are some landing lights on both the ships and the platforms, so let's see how we can do this.
First let's choose a nice bright color for a light, in this case I have chosen a yellow.
Then we grab one of our Photoshop included star brushes and using the mouse we click a couple of times in the same place where we want this light, the more you click the more intensity you will get. Then you vary the color to something else let's say a bright red and add some other landing lights, you can do the same on the roof of the platform and on several other sections of the platform itself, just don't overdo it and end up with a Christmas tree.
Don't forget about the objects further away reduce the size of the star brush and do the same there.