Tutorial de Ilustração – Como se fez – “The Monuments of Mars”

Sorry english speaking friends, but right now this post will be only in Portuguese because i´ve only narrated my illustration video tutorial in my own language so far. An english version will be available in the future, so make sure you stay tuned. Nevertheless, take a peek at my video as i´m sure it will be self explanatory in most of everything if you´re into illustration.
If you´re looking for an illustrator visit me at : www.luisperes-illustration.net

Sejam bem vindos ao meu primeiro video tutorial de ilustração feito já mais a sério. A ideia com isto foi a de criar um video explicando como eu normalmente produzo as minhas ilustrações criadas em Photoshop. Essencialmente este tutorial agora difere do que se costuma habitualmente ver na internet porque eu fiz de propósito para produzir um desenho sem fazer a minima ideia do que ia sair ao inicio. O objectivo era que eu próprio encalhasse várias vezes em becos sem saída de forma a depois poder mostrar como conseguimos dar a volta quando encalhamos numa imagem.
Portanto espero que gostem do tutorial e tudo o mais que precisam de saber está explicado no seu interior.


O resultado final foi este:

The Monuments of Mars 4
The Monuments of Mars



Se procura um ilustrador visite-me em www.icreateworlds.net


Looking for an illustrator ?

More photos from the creation of my illustrations (TreeWorld (alternate version) and Ufo Kid) – Mais fotos da criação de algumas ilustrações.

If you´re like me, you´re probably always curious about the process of creating an illustration, so in this section i´ll try to document the creation process of some of my pictures, (when i remember to take photos as i go along…).
I´ll not do an exaustive step by step for each pic, but i´m planning some visual tutorials on how i create my style of art, so if you guys and girls like this Making of section, soon i´ll start creating detailed tutorials because the best way to learn is to see how it´s done. 😉


Se forem como eu, provavelmente gostarão de conhecer como são criadas muitas das ilustrações que encontram, por isso nesta secção eu agora irei colocando algumas fotografias do processo criativo, (quando me lembrar de ir tirando fotos….).
Não será ainda uma exaustiva documentação de todo o processo, mas se vocês gostarem de espreitar este tipo de coisas, em breve penso criar uns tutoriais-passo-a-passo, pois a melhor forma de aprender a fazer algo é ver como se faz. 😉


Learning to fly 01 – Background color test and making of…sort of…

This is just the first test i did for a new illustration i´m working on for a commissioned set of pics to illustrate a children book.
The final illustration will have one more character in it, but this is the first one i did, so i wanted to try and see what color mood could work best for a background setting.
Actually this simple version ended up looking like a greeting card somehow…hmmmm………
Along with this pic i´m also posting some photos of the creation process.

Este é o primeiro teste relativo a uma das novas ilustrações que me encomendaram para um projecto de livros para crianças em inglaterra. A imagem final irá ter ainda mais um personagem mas como criei já este bonequinho quis ver como ficaria com um background por detrás e encontrar o tom de cor certo para talvez usar mais adiante.
Curiosamente este teste simples agora parece-se com um cartão postal….hmmm…..ideias….
Coloquei abaixo também algumas fotos do processo de criação deste personagem.

Stay tuned for the rest of the pic, i´m still working on. 😉
Em breve, o resto da imagem pois ainda estou a trabalhar no que falta. 😉

Looking for a freelance children book artist and illustrator ? Check my portfolio and my site and contact me today with your project.
Procura um ilustrador que se enquadra no meu tipo de trabalho ? Consulte o meu portfolio no meu site e contacte-me com o seu projecto.

Drawing Tutorial – How to draw landscapes or background scenery – INTRO

Fear of the great outdoors ?
It´s a matter of perspective, you know. 😉

Want to know how to draw landscapes or background scenery ?
Looking for online drawing lessons on how to draw scenery backgrounds ?
If you browse most amateur drawing galleries on the web it won´t take much time before you notice that one of the things where people have the most dificulty when rendering a drawing is adding a background.
Particulary a landscape or scenery background.
Not many try, and most of those who are brave enough end up stuck somewhere.

There are thousands of drawings on those galeries but most of the time people stick to drawing characters only and rarely we see an amateur illustration with a great landscape complementing a figure, much less we find many landscape-only drawings around. Why ? Because people tend to think creating a scenery is very difficult due to the dreaded fear of perspective.

So let me show you how you can avoid all that and let you know how to draw, perhaps that imaginary children book landscape you always wanted to do but never thought you had the talent.
Stick with me, but be warned this is going to be a long and detailed post. 😉



Are you looking at me ?…

You cannot escape it. No matter where you look you´ll find perspective staring back at you. The big diference between people who know how to render that on a paper and those like you who probably don´t, is that most of you don´t even notice perspective happening all around you in your ordinary life. Things were always there and they always will be, and of course you know if an object is far from you, it looks smaller and seems bigger the closer you get to it. But then things get more complicated.

If you´re looking straight at an object in the distance, (let´s say a house), and that house is right in front of you, when you walk straightforward towards it, the house gets larger as you get closer but its facade generaly still has the same shape, you saw in the distance, only bigger. And generaly the horizon line gets lower.

The problem starts when you get too close to the facade of the house. As you get near the house you see that the lines of its shape change at your eyes, the details increase and you get more choices where to look at.
You notice that, not only you can look at the house straightforward but as you are smaller in height to the architecture, you can even look up to it and see even more features revealed…by the perspective.
The same perspective that changes relatively to the observer as you move along in relation to an observable feature.
Note that now you can look up at the roof and see new lines that pull that shape of the roof behind the house into an unseen vanishing point and that enables you to look under that roof in this example. Same 3D effect on thewindow.


If you want to create a cool landscape first of all you should start by deciding what type of view you are going to use, because once the process starts you can make some serious errors in your drawing if you try to correct or change that type of view later on.

So first, imagine that you´re inside your paper and decide if you´re going to look at your landscape illustration from below, from above or straight at it.
Maybe you´re at the bottom of a castle tower looking up, or flying above the clouds looking down. Or maybe you´re on plain looking straightforward at a farm house.
Essentialy you have to choose your view and be the eyes of the person wich will look at your scenery when it´s completed.

You can create something at eye level where all the vanishing points (more on this ahead) are located at eye level and where the amount of sky and ground area is more or less the same like you see on the pic below.

You might decide you´re actualy looking down at your landscape and so the lower you look at, the less sky area you can see as the horizon line in your sketching goes higher almost to the top of the canvas.

This is what gives the first illusion you´re looking down. As you see more of the ground than of the sky as it happens in reality.

If you´re into radical drawing experiences, you can even eliminate the sky area totaly and create a pic where people are really, really looking down, but i wouldn´t advise it if you´re just begining.

Having a horizon line to place your vanishing guiding points is not only useful but trully mandatory if you know nothing about creating a scenery.

And of course, if you´re going to do something with a vast scale looking up, maybe a fantasy illustration where the sky is the main element, the more you look up the less ground you see and the more sky area you have to work on.

Notice that independent of the fact that you look up, down or straight ahead if you place an object at the horizon you can still be looking straight at it at the same time if you choose to make it so.
Once again, this has to do with perspective.

Keep on reading.

Next –  Little House on the Grid

Drawing Tutorial – Part Two – “Going 3D”

Lets go back to the original grid with the little central house from where you pulled the lines. It´s time to go 3D and create your first landscape feature, using precisely the first imaginary grid we sketched.
In this case we want to add another house. But as it´s located closer to the viewer eyes ,it stands on the ground and very important, in this case we are looking slightly down from an imaginary high point (maybe a hill), you get to see the top of the roof.
If you still only saw the facade then the view would be also diferent, but more on this ahead too. 😉

The new house looks 3D and with volume. That is simply because i´ve pulled the side lines of the original triangle further back to create some roof faces. Notice i´ve followed precisely the same angle of the imaginary green grid lines ? Well this is the secret to all this and the reason you have to pull them from a vanishing point. It adds depth.

Lets do the same with the other house on the side.
Notice you still have the original house facade intact. You´re only adding aditional volume to it in relation to the guide-lines.

See how the left bit of the roof follows exactely the nearby left guide-line ?
See how the right side of the roof does exactely the same related to the next nearby right guide-line in wich the house stamps on ?
Also now you can see a right wall on the house because we had to pull more lines from the square shape of the facade to follow the exact same guideline the roof is following.

And because we are looking from slightly above, the roof overlaps a bit of the new wall and you don´t need to pull the top line of the wall face also, because that right side face of the roof already defined the shape of the house when it was aligned with the guide-line. A house pointing into a vanishing point. 😉

This – pointing to vanishing points technique is the trick to place things right on 3D setting. As long you know, wich objects relates to its vanishing point you´re on the right track to creat all sorts of illustrations you dream of.
Maybe you can get into freelance illustration one of this days too.

Lets take a look at the example where you´re looking slightly up at the little house.
Notice you can see a little bit from underneath the roof ?
Why´s that ?
Is it pointing to the same vanishing point ?

What imaginary guidelines is this roof following ?

Well… these guide-lines. 🙂

As you can see, the lines that define the bottom area of the roof, are also following parallel to the new imaginary guide-lines for the sky.

The angle of these lines determines the depth or perspective in the way the roof looks to the viewer.

Once again you can experiment with grids having diferent angles to see slightly diferent depth views. Just remember to always pull lines and faces from an object in a parallel way to your guide-lines originated by the vanishing point you designated for each particular object.

This type of grid works well for a more graphic example like this and it´s good for beginners to get a good sense of how a vanishing point is used to create depth and volume, but as you can see it constrains the whole natural flow of a landscape and can make it a bit unrealistic. Tunnel-vision-style is never a good thing if you want to create a dynamic fantasy landscape or children book scenery.

After all, look around you… you don´t see everything converging into a single point of detph, do you ?

So how do you avoid creating a landscape, background or scenery that has this constraining and unrealistic tunnel view ?

You simply have to build a landscape based on multiple vanishing points. And those points don´t even have to always be associated with an object. Some can even be located outside of your canvas.

See those clouds ? What´s up with those ?

What guide-lines are these floating shapes following then ?!

Well they´re not following that single vanishing point grid for sure. And much less have much to do with the vanishing point on wich the little house was built with depth.

At least at first glance.
Keep on reading and forget about the clouds for a moment.
Lets focus on the actual landscape ground elements.

More on clouds later.

Next – “Scenery takes shape

Drawing Tutorial – Part Three – “Scenery takes shape”

We have some clouds, lets add another house to the scenery.
Let´s keep it simple, and make another structure facing us, only from the other side of our view.

So, to begin once again we imagine another vanishing point on the horizon and pull some imaginary lines.
Remember the angle of those lines starting from the center of the vanishing point determines the ilusion of where the viewer is observing the landscape.

In this case we try to give them more or less the same angle we´ve used to create the original house, otherwise we risk building a new one with the wrong perspective.

There´s ways to avoid those common errors but for the beginners out there, let´s stick with the simple version for now. 😉

Now we build another house. Once again, starting from the basic facade shape, we extract new lines and create faces wich give depth to the house.

As you can see, once again the faces follow the same angle as the guide-lines. Parallel to the roof shape.

Notice that in both houses you´re only able to see one side of the roof. That is what you would see in real life if the houses were located as they are in the drawing related to the observer.

That view as you can guess is determinded by these guide-lines. The same wich are all around you in real life but that you never think about as you look at things.

You see that something is up or down but you never think about why you perceive it like that.

One of the biggest errors that people make when trying to render a landscape such as this, is trying to show both sides of the roofs. This is mostly, because they know those roof-sides exist and so, most people feel they have to show them, otherwise the viewer would think there was something wrong with the drawing. Big mistake.

You should only render what the viewer would see in reality and never what you know it´s there behind something.
You would need a view that it would be impossible for you to render properly, simply because you have to follow the grids generated by the vanishing points.

We now have added a little tree to scenery. As you can see it doesn´t have much volume and because of that, in this example it can be placed anywhere as long you respect its size relatively to the distance.
Smaller when faraway – Bigger when close to the viewer.

It´s time to give the scenery some real scale and that is why the tree is now here.
As for the original little house it´s now back to show that you can make an horizon look as far as you want just by adjusting the size of an element you place at that horizon level.

Now that the little house is back, suddenly the landscape does not look as wide as it seemed without it, does it ?
If that original little house was even bigger your ground area would look even smaller.

So, first very important tip: – the vastness of a landscape can be increased or diminished by the size of the objects you place on the horizon. The further that object goes away from its real scale the vast your landscape will feel. The closer it comes to its real size the smaller and unrealistic your scenery will look, particulary if you already have some well placed elements as we now have with the two houses and the tree almost at foreground.

Next – “Planes & Viewpoints

Drawing Tutorial – Part Four – “Planes & viewpoints”

Wich brings us into another very important aspect of creating a good and dynamic scenery or landscape background.

Let´s talk about planes.
And i´m not talking about airplanes, but simply of the natural divisions that you can identify all around you when you contemplate a beautiful view in nature.

No matter where you look, and the vaster the view is you can always divide a scenery into mainly three diferent planes of view:
– Background
– Middleground
– Foreground

Usualy there´s more space for the foreground in my fantasy illustrations than i give it here on this pic but i have a reason for make it like this for now.

When you contemplate a view, you´ll notice that objects that are faraway are all about the same scale. The same goes for the ones that are located in the middle area of the scenery and finaly for the ones that are closer to your position.

These are the three planes you need to represent when creating a landscape.
You will never have a really tinny house the size of the one you can see in the distance next to the house near you as that is an impossibility.
Nevertheless many people make the mistake of representing that when trying to create a landscape.

In our example, you have the little house in the horizon as the background, then the two ones with the tree in the middleground and finaly, we follow the guide-lines and we´ve added two new ones and a new tree generated from simple shapes now located outside the canvas and extracted as before.

Usualy i make the foreground area bigger, but in this example, i wanted to show you something. If the foreground was bigger we could have filled it with the complete new foreground houses and tree and that would be almost repeating what it´s already done in middleground.

What i want to show you now, is that, altough you have to define an imaginary border for each of your planes and stick to the relative scale of the objects you place inside each of them, you don´t need to respect the top border at all to achive a technicaly valid scenery. Particulary when adding foreground scenery elements.

In fact, as long as you respect the scale of the elements you place as foreground pieces of your scenery you can overlap those “seconday borders” of the middleground and background planes.

Placing elements in a foreground is a great way to give scale to a scenery.
You don´t even have to draw the complete objects for people to identify because you already have similar ones present at your landscape and the mind of the viewer will make that association.

In this example the trees and branches of the foreground are nothing but flat shapes, but you can see they already create a good effect even without volume, simply because the scenery already has depth because of the 3D shape of the houses and so…this is highly subjective, but you can play with this level of details when you place landscape features.

You don´t always have to draw details in everything you place on a scenery.
To avoid the risk of overcrowding your landscape, if you balance between detailed elements and less detailed ones you can still create cool scenery. I use that method for my fantasy landscape illustrations.

Of course, you can also add depth to an element like a tree, more or less the same way you did with the houses.
You see, each tree also has its own grids and guide-lines as well as vanishing points they have to respect inside the landscape and those can also help you to add volume to a tree. More on future tutorials about this. 😉

For now lets stick with the basics and so…lets spread some more trees around inside our landscape.
Notice i always try to respect the scale of each element depending if i´m placing it on the background, middleground or foreground.
You can also place some big trees to add scale but don´t overdo it. Try to respect the scale of a level plane inside your scenery.

Getting back to the clouds…
You have noticed that they don´t exactly follow a grid pointing into the original little house vanishing point in the center, right ?…

Next – “Fluffy clouds in the sky

Drawing Tutorial – Part Five – “Fluffy clouds in the sky”

What´s up with those clouds? Where are they coming from ?
How are they positioned if it´s not from that center grid that is used for the sky ? And why not ?
Is there something wrong with that grid ?

Not really. In fact when you get experience in creating landscapes, imaginary grids like this can help you position some of the horizontal aspects of elements in the sky like these clouds here.

I know they are a bit tilted but if their base was following the horizontal lines on this grid the effect would be ok too. In this case most of the effect is on the variation in the size of the shapes and on their location.

This grid could also help positioning details in the actual clouds, like shadows or bright areas, but it´s not time to go into this sort of details yet, so for the moment, let just pretend this is a completely wrong grid to place clouds on this pic.

In fact, using a grid like this wich is focusing only on a single vanishing point centered at the middle of your canvas can bring some serious problems for the beginners.

Because i´m writing this tutorial particulary to help those people who know nothing or have very small knowledge about this type o scenery drawing, for the moment i do not recommend you try to place cloud elements on a grid like this.

Mainly because, if you´re been following my instructions, i can bet ,you would surely be trying to draw and place clouds the same way we created the volume for the houses and you probably would come out with a result like this. Lots of flat shapes in weird angles.

Wich is not exactly…a natural way of presenting a sky…unless you´re looking for a cool cartoon design.

To avoid having a typical cartoon effect like this in your scenery there´s a good solution.
Like i said before, the key to create a vast and dynamic scenery is not to have all your elements focused on one single vanishing point and instead you should use several vanishing points to place your elements.
Only making sure that they relate in angle to the guide-line you defined as the horizon line for your landscape.

A good example of this is how you should create a grid to place you clouds.
Forget about this grid, wich was good to define the basics of your 3D space for the ground area but that´s it.
If you want to design a landscape that does not look static and instead has its own life and dynamics you cannot stick to design everything around a single vanishing point like this.

Nature has tons of diferent focus viewpoints, so try to diversify the ones you use when creating your scenery. 😉

What you need for the sky are clouds that can open up your scenery even more.
A good way to do this, is to choose a vanishing point to the side and pull an imaginary grid from it.

Tip: A very important element in a landscape is also the way nature affects a scenery and so in this case, having some wind blowing from one direction affects the heading of the clouds in the sky as it happens in nature.
The idea with this sky grid is to create that sense of motion up above and so that´s the reason the horizontal lines in it are tilted.

Tilting an horizon is always a good way of adding a sense of “motion” to a landscape and in this case the fact that the clouds have their base aligned to the horizontal tilted lines of the grid, creates that ilusion and makes for the perfect contrast with the “solid stilness” of the ground area.

More on clouds on another tutorial ahead. 😉

Have you noticed ?
The scenery is completed. We now have a simple background with depth and dimension and also some cloud movement feel to give it life and we did all this without even adding any sort of details.
It was all done….with shapes and… perspective !!! Go figure ! 😉
What do you mean it´s not complete ?
Ok, to finish things off, lets add some green for the ground and some blue gradient to the sky. Why a gradient to the sky ?

Take a look at the sky above you. Its color is always darker above your head and gets lighter as it nears the horizon. So anytime you want to add depth with color to a landscape, creating a gratient sky is always a good start.
More on colors in a future drawing tutorial and on how you can even use color to replace detailed elements of an illustration.

Ah, but we´re not finished yet…come back !

Next – “Endless worlds

Drawing Tutorial – Part Six – “Endless worlds”

Remember i told you that the size of an element or scenery feature you draw at the horizon line determines the scale of any landscape ?
Take a look at what happened when i removed the original little house from the horizon, took off a bunch of trees and the two aditional houses of the background plane.

Suddenly the space in my landscape became huge ! Now the picture creates the ilusion that there really is a vast distance between the two original houses and the horizon line.
And i didn´t even made any changes to where the horizon line is. It´s still at the same place as it is on the original scenery of the above picture !
To create that sense of distance, i´ve also added a shape of a mountain and an ocean. By the way the fact that the ocean has that little curve right up top near the base of the mountain also adds to the scale of the pic. 😉

As for the vanishing points, they´re still the same as in the original landscape.

So you can see that the key to create a cool scenery and vary the size of a landscape illustration is nothing more than a combination between a good placement of its landscape features in relation to pre-defined vanishing points for each object pointing from the horizon line and the size you choose for each object; when you place it in an order: background-middleground-foreground.

It seems complicated, but practise and in time you´ll become like me and you won´t need to even draw any guide-lines the same way I don´t do it anymore.
Everytime i look at a landscape now or I have one in my imagination my mind creates all those grids and i don´t need to draw them to build my sceneries. I just place the elements.
And so can you. At first you´ll need to plan the grids visualy, but then it will become second nature just to imagine them. 😉

Another thing. Don´t worry about drawing lots of details in each landscape element you create as you go along.
A good landscape is more like a good colection of less detailed features than a space filled with not so many elements but overly detailed.

When you begin, try to design a landscape in its basic shape structure, then you can start adding details later to those elements that really need to be detailed.
A good landscape has always some key elements that pull the viewer´s atention and sometimes you can even use those features to distract the viewer from looking at some of your mistakes in the drawing. 😉

If you have a pic, filled with detailed key elements they get lost and your scenery, as much pretty it can be becomes bland and dull, because it´s the little and carefuly placed touches that give it life.
Not a huge amount of great technical details.
So keep it simple, specialy in the begining.

This is a finished version of the alternate scenery. I probably exagerated in the size of the big tree that stretches from the middleground overlaping the background area, but this is just to show you, how you can build scale using diferent sizes of objects.

If I added details to the big tree and also gave it some depth and 3D feel i could make this element feel less intrusive but this is a subject for another tutorial wich i´ll be posting as soon as I can finish it. 😉

So, basicaly this is how you can create a nice looking scenery using the generic horizon line at eye level.
If you elevated the green hill with the big tree at the foreground you could even actualy change the view a bit, from slightly looking down into a more straightforward view, so you see there´s lots you can play with not only with perspective and guide-lines but also how you place elements on the view planes.

Next – “A change of view

Drawing Tutorial – Part Seven – “A change of view”

Let me give you another example. This time a view looking slightly up from the ground into the sky.

This type o framing is great if you want to create vast cloudy skies or beautiful sunsets as it pulls much of the atention to the sky and uses the ground features mainly to give the open sky its scale.

Have you figured out how did i created this one ?
Can you see the guide-lines here with your mind ?

Here they are.
As you can see, now there´s a diference in the grid that builds the sky. I´m pulling that one from a focal vanishing point completely outside of my canvas.

When you do this, it allows for a more open angle to build the sky as it makes it parallel to the ground and helps to simulate even wider distances.

Notice that because the house on middleground now overlaps the background area of the sky, the shapes that define the roof above and bellow follow the guide-lines that make the sky pointing from its off-canvas vanishing point. This is what simulates that feel that you´re looking up. If your main lines on a scenery are the ones that make the sky, follow them to build each object that rises from the ground wich in this case is lower.

In this example the guide-lines from the ground grid are not even that important.

And what about placing another feature in it ?

Let´s say a tree right as the center piece of the landscape.

In this case is just made of a shape, but as the whole picture is based on how the scenery is framed and you already have the house clouds and sky to give you that visual information that you´re looking up at the sky we don´t even need to add details to the tree shape or even give it depth to make the picture work as you can see, because your mind assumes right away that when you look at the top of the tree you´re seeing it from under the top leafs. This is because the whole picture is framed looking up.

But… If we would add details to the tree and wanted to give it a real 3D sculptured feel…
Yes there´s another type of imaginary grid to follow as now we want to work on the details of the tree and those details also have to follow their own version of vanishing points.

I´m not going into an in-depth explanation here as this will be part of a future illustration or drawing tutorial, but for now check out these new grids.

Why the two grids ? – I hear you asking.
Because basicaly in this picture you can look right in front of you, you can look down and you can look up. Not counting left and right.

Because this tree is actualy very close to us, the middleground of this scenery has to remain static at your eye level, because when you´re close to a an object and look slightly up or down your view doesn´t change radicaly. It´s only when you pull your head back to look up, that the perspective changes and so its the same with this scenery. As the top of the tree is placed overlaping the bit of the scenery located right up in the sky “when you look up” to look at the leafs there´s a new vanishing point right above your eye level, from where the branches and leafs pull their depth and volume.
The same goes for the ground grid.

But all this is for another tutorial ahead. I hope you´ve enjoyed this one and if you came here looking for how to draw lessons or tutorials on illustration you got to this point having learned what you were searching for.
I´ve been creating fantasy landscapes as part of my freelance illustration work for more than 15 years now and so i´m planning to reveal all my tips & tricks about how i do my children book style illustrations to everyone who cares to read about my techniques. Comeback soon, if you enjoyed this one, as i´ll try to post a new one every week at least.

Altough i did this images in Photoshop to get a more graphic look, this is how I plan and execute my own landscapes wich are traditionaly created in watercolors, acrylics and color pencils only, (with sometimes a touch of digital to correct a color or blend a sky more to my satisfaction).