How to create background graphics for adventure games


As the title tells, this post focuses on the creation of background graphics in an adventure game. However, this is just a demonstration of my workflow, not a specific guide of any kind. If someone gets an inspiration or an idea or two out of this – great.

As I thoroughly explained in the previous posts, I vigorously searched for ways to create background graphics focusing on my strengths: 3D modeling and Photoshop compositing.

So here goes, a step-by-step explanation of my approach to the background graphics:

  1. The sketch / plan / base image / whatevs

    I skipped this step altogether for this proof-of-concept-like image. I didn’t need to spend hours in creating a great sketch so instead I searched for a suitable image which I could then recreate in my own way. The image could be an actual photograph, matte painting or anything that would fit in my mindscape. As the basis for my image I chose this pretty rendering from Marek Denko.

    “Under the southern highway” by the talented Marek Denko


  2. Blender modeling

    Next I started up Blender and modeled this – it didn’t take too long, just an hour or two. The bending road was a pain in the ass, because the Blender’s modifiers for bending mesh were really not co-operating with me.

    Screenshot of the scene in Blender.


  3. Rendering all of the important passes

    I needed various different passes out of the model. These were saved as separate image files and later they’d be layered together in Photoshop.

    The base render of the scene. The lighting of the scene has been finalised at this point.


    The sky is rendered separately from other objects.


    Mist layer is for adding atmospheric perspective.


    Depth layer – it’s not so important here, as the image is supposed to be focused through and through.


    The almighty line art layer – this is produced by Blender’s Freestyle feature.


  4. Texturing in Photoshop

    For these simple geometric shapes I found it easy to do the texturing in Photoshop as opposed to creating materials and UV maps in Blender. For more detailed and complicated objects the texturing should be done beforehand. I think I’d render them also in a separate pass to preserve the control of the texture layer and keep the lighting intact in the initial base render.

    Not pretty yet – just some colourful textures plashed in there. Note that the textures have already been transformed into a more painterly look – all of these are from photographs. The lighting and the shape of the 3D objects is strongly visible already. The background of forests and mountains is just a nasty mess at this point.


  5. Compositing – combining the render passes, texture layers and adding the final touches
    The final image.


Thanks! Next time – characted design and drawing.



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