How I paint backgrounds step by step.

2018.01.07, written by Kuna.

First week into 2018. How does it feel? πŸ˜‹ Mine was a bit… complicated (technical domestic issues) but luckily I managed to accomplish some work this time too nevertheless. I also started my “new” habit of regularly playing games during the week and as expected I feel way more relaxed. I almost avoided hobbies like videogames during 2017 to save time for PBS but that wasn’t a wise decision. I just remembered how inspiring playing can be expecially while you are developing a game yourself! Therefore, my 2018 is going to be seasoned with game sessions and I believe that’s not bad as a premise, eheh.

This week I’m going to post some process pictures and video from my latest background artwork: the school cafeteria from the university Kairi and pals attend in the game. Despite of the location it’s an outdoor, because I thought it would be quite the view to set lunch scenes in the open air with outside glossy chairs and tables, nature, sunlight… That kind of scene! I guess that it could enhance the “magic” atmosphere of a city like Kujikawa which is represented a bit like a fairytale location.

As you may remember from one of my first posts here, I already wrote about the making of of background art, albeit not in details. Instead of a lineart, this time I used a 3D render as reference and painted it with a technique I call “digital acrylics” which I started using last year in February. It mostly uses flat surfaces e very neat colors. When it’s about art, I’m a self-taught, so note that what I’m about to show you it’s just my personal attempt at backgrounding and noting you can really consider as a teaching. 

Long story short, let’s start with the 3D render I made in SketchUp using the warehouse collection (that means 3D models made by other users which I edited and assembled together).

Since I’m going to paint over it I don’t care too much about details as the faraway landscape and such. What I need to fill my deficits in drawing perspective and time is just a model I can take screenshot of that contains the main elements of my background. In this case a good amount of chairs and tables, a building, stairs, etc.

The angle I chose for my screenshot.
SketchUp can also show you only lines.

I had the idea for this view from the cafeteria of my own university which I kept a photo of. I guess that when we talk about create something, everyone draws a lot from their personal experience and mix it up with imagination, isn’t it true?

Okay, so… time to paint over the render. I use a rough and half transparent brush and start from the elements that look more representative of the general picture to have some results I can observe and judge as soon as possible. 

First we have chairs and tables. Then nature is important for the general feeling, so let’s paint the trees (in this case fully bloomed cherry trees because my scene is set during spring. Note that for summer setting I can easily repaint only the trees and use the same background). A lamp is the last part. When putting a 3D model together, aside from inserting the main elements of the picture, it’s also useful to stop and think: “Which item would I need in a setting like this if it was real?”. A wide terrace like this would be useless after the sun sets unless the proper illumination is provided.

It’s time for the building, the stairs, the rail. I try to use colors that are nice to look at and not just the ones from the render. I took inspiration from other artists.

Floor dyed with peach color and a more subtle blue. Choosing colors is for me the hardest part, therefore this quick change was an important step in this picture!

Inserting a background behind the cherry trees. I used a photo I took and dyed in some softer hues, bended and adapted to my picture. It may be addressed as a “trick” but it does save time! And showing tricks like this is actually the purpose of this sudden tutorial, haven’t you realized by now? πŸ˜‡

Completing the picture with the glass windows, shadows, missing details… And then I add a bunch of fluttering cherry petals here and there.

…And the background is completed and ready to be coded into the game! A nice spring day at the school cafeteria!