I always had a hard time painting backgrounds before so I’m going to show you each step i do when drawing a fantasy backgrounds.
Painting a fantasy landscape
First I have a vague idea of what i want to draw but i'm not sure yet.
I'd say it's better to do multiple napkin sketches first to figure out what's the better composition
I started by doing a greyscale drawing that's not detailed at all but it doesn't matter since this is just the beginning.
I took care to separate the layers so that it's easier for me to edit them individually.
I'll start coloring with an overlay layer. For that set the layer above your greyscale as overlay and clip it to your greyscale layer.
I chose a warm color palette beacaus i want this place to feel dry and hot.
I want the big two pillars to be the main focus of the painting and have decided to make them towers of some sort.
I recommend you use the lasso tools and selection tools to help you paint shadows, it's very useful.
I drew some windows on another layer and will try to bend them so I can put them on the tower.
sadly the transforming tools in clip studio are not like photoshop and aren't really great for photobashing. I even tried bending them with the mesh tranform tool but it wouldn't fit well therefore, I will use a 3D primitive instead to make details on my towers.
I dropped a cylinder onto my scene where the horizon line is so the perspective will fit.
Next I exported the primitive's map in another canvas and with some photos I got from phtobash.co
I mashed them up on the canvas to get a somewhat interesting building facade .
i did a lot of using the stamp to repeat certain pattern so i recommend you use the stamp tool when working with photos. It should be in the same location as your object tool.
when i applied the map to the primitive I will move it to where the tower is and turn the image into a overlay layer so that the color matches.
I will then do the same with the second tower
this is what it looks like now.
When I've placed the primitives succesfully i can go on and rasterize them.
I will then fix some details in the tower or add some like the hold in the small tower.
I want to show that these monuments are old and damaged with time.
I will then use a glow dodge layer on top to illuminate the towers and make it seem more realistic.
Now I've also figured out where the light source is coming from.
Then with a ground texture I found in the clip studio assets, I will apply it to the foreground so that the ground actually looks organic and once again i used the overlay mode to blend it in.
I'll keep detailing the ground and trying out other hues to see if it would fit better.
Once i've detailed it enough I thought I'd add a little road which will guide the viewer's eyes in the direction of the towers.
Now it's time to detail the sky. Once again, I'm importing a sky picture from the assets.
With the transfrom tool I'll make the picture fit more in the perspective.
Then I will aslo apply a gradient on the sky to have a diifferent color palette to see which mood fits better.
I ususally either duplicate the sky layer and directly apply the gradient onto the layer or I make a new overlay layer on top of the sky layer and make a gradient myself on it .
I chose a pinkish color for the sky because I wish to stay in the warm tones overall.
I thought the scene was a bit empty so I started adding more elements like some mountains in the back.
I also realized the painting had a bit of a value problem so I used the tone curve tool to contrast the painting so that the towers aren't blending in the sky.
I thought mountains weren't enough so I started drawing a city behind the towers. Once again i'm using the selection tool to be more precise.
I'm starting by making a wall that protects the city and i'll detail the wall with pillars using the selection tool again.
For the pillars, I will draw them seperately and duplictae them until I have enough of them to place on the wall.
After placing them , I will make sure that both the wall and pillars look a little destroyed to show that this city has been here a long time.
Then after blending them together this is what the wall looks like.
I thought the wall was too dark so I duplicated it then turned it into a monochrome layer to then only keep the white.
Then I rasterize the white only layer and turned it into a either overlay, screen or color dodge mode.
I then used the color balance menu to match the color of the wall to the color of the towers ( you can find color balance, the curve tool and several other tools in ; Layer then New correction layer)
I also used the color balance to contrast more the wall and have it's shadows color match to the color of the tower's shadows.
I thought the towers looked a little bland so with the selection tool again I will create a door shape into the tower and color fill it with the same color as the back shadows of the tower, I only need to use the color pick tool for this.
I then duplicated that door ( which I did on a different layer than the towers by the way) and copy paste it onto the other small tower by scaling it.
I thought the painting stil had a value problem so I copied my folder to turn it to grey color mode temporarily to check if the values were correct.
By the way I started drawing the city buidings in the backgroud with simple shapes.
I duplicated the folder and used a curve tool on it to fix the values a bit.
I then turn the greyscale version into a multiply layer to see if it looked good with the colored version.
I was happy with it so i merged the two versions together. I wouldn't recommend doing this but instead figure out your values at the start so that you won't have to merge both and can still work on the background, middle ground and foreground separately, I personally am used to painting everything on the same layer but it might not be your ideal.
I then sart refining the ground more and making the road clearer so that it leads the viewer's eyes where I want.
I will then go on to add more details like refining the city a bit, make the ground more organic, add some structure around the big doors adn retouch the towers' windows. I also finally drew the kind of fantasy moon that's in the sky.
I would like to make the foreground clearer so I used a fog brush to add some more depth.
I then made a glow dodge layer to add shine from the moon towards the towers to once again guide the viewer's eyes towards them.
I decided I didn't really like the current color palette so I dupliclated the painting mutiple times to do tests on them. I started with color balance to give the painting a colder feel.
Then I tried using a gradient I like and use it on the duplicated painting.
I changed both the duplicated layers and set them to either overlay or color mode and reduce or not their opacity level.
I then turned one of the layer into a monochrome layer again and kept only the white.
I will set that layer to a color dodge mode to add more lightning. This isn't going to be a drastic change but it will lighten the painting a bit.
To not overdo it I will keep the color dodge layer at low opacity.
After that it's only detailing left like adding birds and making them shiny by duplicating them, setting them to glow dodge and then adding a small gaussian blur and lowering the opacity.
To add even more depth I added the trees in the foreground because I thought the foreground was lacking a bit.
The final touch will be using the noise filter at low opacity ( perlin noise under filter then render) so that it adds a bit texture to the painting.
And this is the final result!
Other fantasy building tip
I'm currently working on a webtoon that takes place in a fantasy setting. The cities in this world have very different architecture than most human architecture so I wanted to try drawing different ideas of fantasy bulding and the symmetric ruler is a big help.
I tried making a bunch of different assets that could fit in this fantasy world.
I drew things like doors, windows and even tiles of roofs.
Then when I'll draw a scene that takes place in that setting I can use the assets I made as guides! Just match the perspective with the transform tool.
Of course you will have to retouch it to make it match the perspective of your drawing but It wll help you lay a nice foundation to hlep you.
Thanks for reading!
Hope this helped you getting more comfortable woth painting fantasy backgounds !
If you wanna see more of ly art I welcome you to my insta;
See you next time!