Can you help me quickly paint an environment?
Daniel Bacchus, South Africa
There are a lot of tools out there that can help make even the most complex environment design manageable, from thumbnail to final product. 3D programs (here I’ll be using SketchUp) can streamline the process; when you begin to combine these with phototextures and well-thought out lighting effects, you can quickly create a visually interesting piece of art that sells your environment idea.
There are a few different ways to approach environment design: for sci-fi and terrascape art the Shapes tool is invaluable, whereas for modern cityscapes starting with a photo plate can be much quicker. Other urban environments or detailed matte painting style artwork can benefit from 3D in the initial stages. And of course, many artists just use free form painting from start to finish, forgoing photos and other programs altogether. Experiment with these different methods until you find an approach that works best.
One quick trick is using magic hour lighting in your artwork. This creates dramatic mood, vivid colour and long shadows that are universally flattering.