Environment Concept Art Tutorial – “Arrival”

Watch the fully narrated tutorial on my Patreon here.

If you wanna know exactly how I create epic environment concept art pieces like this, keep reading. In this post, I’ll walk you through the main points, but if you want to see the full 2+ hour video tutorial you can check it out right here.

Let’s take a look at the different phases of the process here:

1. Sketch

A sketch of a digital painting of a rocky canyon landscape with a group of warriors walking towards a distant temple

This is when the overall composition is mapped out, and I start brainstorming different elements. Here I’ve made use of what I call “perspective shapes” which both serve to guide the eye to the focal area and also increase the depth of the landscape.

2. Value mapping

A digital painting of a rocky canyon landscape with a group of warriors walking towards a distant temple

Next, I fill in the sketch with some values. This is the most important element of the composition—values can make or break a painting.

Here, I’ve tried to create more contrast around the most important elements, though I do end up adjusting the values later on to bring more balance to the piece and highlight distant elements more strongly.

3. Underpainting

A digital painting of a rocky canyon landscape with a group of warriors walking towards a distant temple

Then it’s time to introduce some color. I try to start with a high degree of saturation and variety at the beginning of the painting, so I can easily pick colors from the canvas and tone them down later if I need to.

4. Refining

A digital painting of a rocky canyon landscape with a group of warriors walking towards a distant temple

Towards the end of the painting phase, I’ve simplified a lot of my textures and shapes. I’ve also changed up my focal area to increase depth and interest.

I’ve removed some of the direct lighting from the left side of the midground to help the fortress pop even more (and, as you’ll see next, I end up eliminating that entirely in the final pass).

5. Final detailing and photo-texturing

A digital painting of a rocky canyon landscape with a group of warriors walking towards a distant temple created for an environment concept art tutorial

Now it’s time for the final polish.

I started with some photo-texturing and mixed that with some hand-detailing to bring the piece to a finished state. I also increased the scale in the foreground and added in some other characters to modify the story and make better use of the space. (Hint: there was a lot of copy-pasting involved here).

That’s it for this post, but of course there’s so much more to check out in the full environment concept art tutorial. Make sure you check it out here!

Cheers,
Eben

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