Illustration Master Course – Ep. 4: LANDSCAPES & ENVIRONMENTS

Illustration Master Course – Ep. 4: LANDSCAPES & ENVIRONMENTS

Hey guys, welcome back to the Ross Draws Master Course series. This is episode 4 and it’s almost over. So it makes me kind of sad. Today we’re drawing landscapes. Yes, I’m so excited because I rarely get the opportunity to draw them. I’m gonna try my best to give you the key concepts and basic fundamentals for you to start your own environments. We’ll be following Faye on her journey into a location in Nima’s world. And we’ll definitely be building on everything that we’ve learned in the previous episode onto this one. So without further ado, let’s do it. So landscapes, first off it’s very important to understand why we create environments, why do we create landscape scenes and a lot of people think landscapes are like drawing grass and pretty flowers and sun. We forget about Storytelling. And in the industry, 9 times out of 10 you have a brief. You have a scene that the director or the script provides for you and you’re supposed to tell that
story in the best way possible I’m gonna show you guys one of my favorite techniques on how to get started and this technique might sound a little silly but this solves my problem every time Every time I need an idea, or every time I’m stuck, I simply just close my eyes and envision the scene. Because when we’re closing our eyes we’re just committed to the moment of our imagination. We’re not distracted by any stimulus in reality, but just in our own thoughts. So, right now, close your eyes I’m watching you, but close your eyes and imagine Faye. Faye with her master, travelling through a field, and they’re just coming out of a really dark forest, and there’s a bus stop sign. In the distance we see a field of flowers, and really cool sharp rocks, and then we have a waterfall Maybe there’s a sun gleaming into the field and that’s the adventure that they’re about to go on. How many of you guys actually closed your eyes? What’s that technique is meant to do, is to kind of put you inside the fantasy world you know, right now we are so used to our reality, in our environment, and that’s why people dream as an escape. And what I want to do is kind of envision ourselves in that actual environment, if it was like in a movie or in a TV show, or a game. And it gives me a lot of ideas. And before we get started I have my mood board. Yes, I talked about how to create this in the previous episode. This is just a board of inspiration and reference to help you create your image. I’m gonna put this over on this screen. And in the previous episode, I skipped over doing compositions because I already had a clear idea where I’m going, but for this episode, I don’t
really know what I’m painting yet so I’m gonna explore the painting with you guys. First off. We’re gonna do napkin sketches. I made a template here. I love doing these and you want to think of it as a sketch on the napkin. If you have a friend and a client on the other side and you want to quickly portray your ideas, you want to quickly draw on the napkin, and then give it to them. And they can understand what is going on even though it looks like scribbles. We did Faye and master. Forest, waterfall, flowers, grass, mountain. So this is a pretty good starting point, you know This is the things that we kind of thought about when we were closing your eyes Remember, the point of the napkin sketch is to get your ideas on here. Don’t think twice about it, think of it like, you know scribble compositions. So maybe there’s like a big tree trunk over here, you know, there’s a bunch of grass. And maybe another tree trunk over here. We’re gonna have a mountain, maybe to the focal point. Let’s add something cool, maybe there’s like a statue of a person holding a staff here. Yeah, that’s a quick idea that I have. Usually your first few ideas aren’t that good. But the most important thing in these sketches is to establish scale. Scale is so important. We are human and we have to understand the size reference to where we are in the environment. I’m thinking this is massive, right? So maybe this is the master right here, and this is Faye. Very cool. And now we see how big these trees are.We see how big the statue is. The cool thing is, we can maybe put them in the foreground like that, looking over to this big statue thing They just came out of the forests. They’re looking at the journey ahead. And now I’m going to show you another technique for another napkin sketch. This one is more like a brain fart, you know, we just threw a bunch of ideas at the screen. But now we’re gonna have some parameters Let’s create this napkin sketch with just rounded shapes, like that. Maybe there’s a river here, to lead to the focal point, like that. Yes, since everything is so round here we want to break it up and add something really interesting that contrasts these round shapes Let’s add like a really cool spire in the distance. Like that. Maybe it’s jagged here too, like that. And, of course, we’re gonna add scale. In the foreground again. That’s cool, look at that. Every shape here is more round And then in the distance, they’re traveling to, danger approaches, you know, the shape language is becoming more sharper, qnd so we see the journey from beginning to end. Think about where they’re coming from and where they’re headed. On the last napkin sketch, you know what, let’s reverse this around. The forest they’re coming from is super spiky, and then their head is somewhere super soft. So let’s try that out. And then they’re heading somewhere a little more rounder, so maybe it’s like a floating beautiful castle. And of course we’re gonna add scale. Maybe they’re already headed there, so let’s put them right here. I kind of just took the second one and reversed the shape language. Maybe they’re coming from something super jaggedy, something super sharp. Like a dangerous forest and heading toward the light. Something really beautiful, it embodies safety, it embodies home, like we’re headed home. I know a lot of environments and landscapes are horizontal. I’m trying to depict a cinematic moment, but I love creating vertical environment. So let’s try a vertical one. I’m thinking maybe like a really big tree. I totally forgot about my bus stop sign. So, let’s add a bus stop sign here. Maybe they’re headed towards a really nice waterfall. Maybe there’s a castle over here. And last but not least, let’s add our people. You see how big that tree
looks now, right when I added a scale That’s why scale is so important. And you can make the tree even bigger, you know, just make this really small. Oh my god. That’s such a big tree. That’s actually a really big bus stop. I don’t think the bus stop’s that big. Let’s put cats. Cat, cat, cat on the tree, cat on the bus stop sign, cats everywhere. Awesome, yeah, napkin sketches. And from here I will choose one to commit to and I just have to go with my vertical landscape. I have a vision for this and I want to commit to it. So, we’re gonna do this one. Let’s just knock this down. And we’re just gonna refine this little bit. You don’t want to figure things out at the end. You know, you don’t want to go, wait, is this a rock or is this a cloud, or what the heck is this? I have no idea. You want to try to solve all your problems at the beginning and then we can kind of just have fun at the end. So let’s do it Awesome, so here’s my refined drawing of the scene. We have Faye and her master,
and her master is named Ame. If you backed the book on Kickstarter I’m sure you know who Ame is, but now since I kind of understand where I’m going. I’m gonna break this up into very simple value shapes and get a very clear scene of where they’re going. So let’s do that. Oh, look at that. Look how much clearer that is. And that is me just kind of breaking down what the foreground might be. And so we’re gonna apply the same treatment to the mid-ground and the background. So let’s do that. And now we can clearly see what’s going on. We see the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. And a good practice when you’re working in the industry, or working on your project, is to show the journey and the dynamic in the story. and a very good rule is to not have too much information for the viewer, because they can easily get overwhelmed. You want to be simple, you know, where they came from, where they’re going, and where they’re gonna end up at. So this is where they came from, where they’re going, and where they’re gonna end up at. A lot of people like to cram Information inside their environments so it’s like where they came from, they’re gonna stop over here, and then jump there, and maybe, you know, they’ll go home for a bit and then they’ll go all the way through the waterfall and, oh look, a pretty bird. They’re gonna go fly in the birds a little bit, and then finally they end up at the castle. And that’s way too much information for the viewer. You want them to understand your image within a second or less. It’s that time of the day again where the sun is here and it is blasting down on my face. And so I’m just gonna go grab a quick bite, wait for the sun to come down, and I’ll check back soon. Hey guys, welcome back. I’m rested, I’m fed, I got some Taiwanese food. It was super good. But just remember to take breaks, you know, if you spend forever trying to find the perfect composition you’re going to wear yourself out. You’re gonna stress yourself and just take some breaks, I’m back with a fresh eye, and I’m looking at this, and I have a brand new idea that
could make this even more awesome In the previous episode, I mentioned to start building your reference folder, you know, and I have a term for that and I call it my second brain. It is a folder of assets and it’s like another brain that you can access whenever you’re stuck When you’re working in the industry, nine times out of ten, you are working to be efficient. There are deadlines. There’s a set budget. No one is paying you to paint every leaf unless you are the most amazing leaf painter. I’m going to show you some really cool photo techniques that can help me get this done. Let’s do that. That’s kind of cool. Look at this. Isn’t this beautiful? Look at this beautiful texture. You know, we’re gonna let this help with our tree. So let’s put this in. Right click, create clipping mask. And now your chaos is contained into the shape that you knocked out at the very beginning Then now, I’m gonna adjust my values, and now I’m gonna tweak this. Look at that. Look how fast that was. We
literally spent a minute on that. This is before, and this is after. Before, and after. You can already see it progressing along. So let’s keep trying it with this mid-ground and background. Look at this. Isn’t this rad? It has two bumps here [Laughter]. I don’t even know really what it is, but this is so cool. I really like this and I feel like it fits into my environment. And so let’s drag it in there. Create clipping mask. Whoa Check that out. Hold on. I’m gonna lighten it so I can show everyone. Nice, it’s that cool. The cool thing is, this technique is so experimental, you know You can keep trying new things and it will be different each time, and you just go based on feeling. You know what? Let’s swap this out for something else. Let’s try that. This is from NASA. I think this is a picture of Mars. So why not we take photos from outer space and different kind of minerals and put it into our painting. Check that out. Now it’s like
a fiery rock. James, isn’t that cool. [James] Yeah. I’m just letting the process mold my painting instead of just painting what I think it is. I want to be more spontaneous into my approach. That is so dope, oh my god. Yeah, I’m just gonna try to tweak what I have real quick, and I’ll check back soon. And here’s our painting so far, it’s looking pretty good. It’s slowly but surely taking a shape and I highlighted important things, like this bus stop sign. These characters are gonna have a presence as well. And I’ve added some really cool flowers, to add some life. You can see that the foreground elements and the mid-ground is much more contrasted than the background. And we call that atmospheric perspective. It’s perspective in the atmosphere. In our atmosphere has lots of particles and different kind of things are in it
like condensation, pollution, maybe it’s like debris and that causes our vision to slowly drop off and you see less detail in the back. If this was like LA or New York It’ll probably be all orange and lots of pollution and stuff like that But if this was like, I don’t know New Zealand, you know there’s less cars there. That air is much clearer and we can see more. Just think about the atmosphere when you’re creating the landscape. Yeah, I’m just gonna touch up some of these grass and flowers real quick I’ll try and find assets with a transparency layer, like this, and I will put this in. Oh my god, look. They’re all in the shade and stuff. We have our shape already and now we’re just trying to use assets to help move us along. Check that out. Look how much life that added. Just make sure it’s supporting you
and not carrying the whole piece I’m going to touch up these characters real quick. Awesome, and now we have details in our character. We define these two figures right here, and it really helps sell the piece a lot more. We’re making leaps in our painting. It’s important to be a master at your tool You know how old masters know different types of brushes, know what kind of mark they make. It’s just important for you to be kind of the puppeteer and the master of your own work. I’m going to show you a technique
that I absolutely love that I use in every single one of my paintings that’s really helped me over the years and that’s called, color range. Let’s bring this into Photoshop So we’re gonna go to select, and then color range, and then we’re gonna extract this color right here. So let’s pick this color. I’m gonna copy it and put it into my painting. Check that out. Basically extracted the color we picked and immediately you see it what it does, right? It adds a lot more life to it. So I’m just gonna try to rearrange this. I’m gonna add this on the tree. That’s a really cool tree now. Look at that. So this is before, and after. We’re just basically extracting from Mother Nature who has the best design. And you can extract anything, like this water, you extract the branches on the leaves, and maybe human faces. I have no idea. Let’s vignette it real quick, you know to help our eye. A lot of movies do this. They kind of just help tone your eye into what focal point you’re looking in. Yeah, it’s looking pretty good so far, so I’m just gonna keep working on it and I’ll check back soon. So this is the progress of our piece so far, and I’m just painting now. I had all my assets and photos in here to help guide me, and then, now I’m just blending every crevice and every corner. Just make it really cohesive. This awesome leaf brush right here, it’s really doing wonders for this painting right now. The very beginning we thought of this idea You know, you close your eyes and you imagine yourself in the environment, you’re feeling the landscape and does this depict what you were originally thinking of? Does this feel on the same wavelength? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe you went in a whole nother direction that you really end up loving but just be cautious of your initial objective. Yeah, so I’m just gonna work on this a little longer and I’ll check back in with the final. Hey guys, welcome back. I worked on it for a few more hours and this is what we got. Ready? Oh, check that out. Oh my gosh. There’s Faye, her master, you know, they just came from a very beautiful forest, the bus stop sign, there’s some cats all around, even Faye has a cat. And there’s the waterfall. I think it looks really great. I feel like I am starting to really capture what I initially felt, what I initially imagine. And then we have a castle or a city in the background. Maybe that’s where they’re heading. I feel like it’s missing something. Hmm. What are we missing guys? We’re missing some color dodge. Yes, you guys have been wanting to see some color dodge in this master course series so it’s a perfect time to do that. And in environments we call color dodge, god rays. I’m just gonna do some color dodging right now. You guys ready for this? You guys ready for this? Watch this. Look at that, that’s so sick. You know what? This is the best part of the landscape, I love doing this. This light is so warm and that’s why it’s so beautiful to us. We gravitate towards warmth and everything around there is more cool, it’s more green, it’s more yellow. And then we have this kind of orange, red light, which looks really beautiful Check this out, right here. Gorgeous. Look at that. Beautiful. That’s the cherry on top. Before, and after. Before, and after. It really just ties your paying together. And if you want the landscape template with all the perspective lines drawn out for you, it’s available on my website for free. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode, you know, landscapes. I love painting environments and I hope I gave you some of the fundamentals and basis for you get started on your landscape. And let’s recap everything we painted in this episode. Milo, did you enjoy that? Look at Milo, aw buddy. I’m sorry, I couldn’t include you in there. Next time, okay? Next time you’ll go up the waterfall. Okay, buddy? Hey guys, welcome back. And I hope you enjoyed the landscape episode of my master course series. Oh, man, that was so much fun. I feel like environments in general take a lot of brainpower You know, to figure out the whole story, and the lighting, and the shadows, and the story dynamic. And if you want the landscape template that used in this video, with the perspective lines, so you guys can try out your own environments. It’s available for free on my website. Links in the description below. And this videos question is, what were you imagining when you closed your eyes? Milo, close your eyes. What do you see Milo? You see dog treats? Let me know in the comments below. I’m kind of excited to have a little sneak peak about what’s going on inside your brain. Guys, that was four episodes already. Time flies by so fast. We have one more episode. A finale to help wrap this whole series together. It’s gonna be about storytelling and we’re going to be creating a beautiful key scene of Faye and her master Ame. And we’ll be taking all our work that we created in this entire series and putting it together in a portfolio. Yeah, till next time on the finale of Ross Draws, Master course series.

100 thoughts on “Illustration Master Course – Ep. 4: LANDSCAPES & ENVIRONMENTS

  1. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ FOURTH EPISODE GUYS! I love painting Landscapes so much and I'm glad to make a detailed tutorial for you guys. TREES, CATS, CASTLES AND COLOR DODGE! 🌿✨

    Free Template! If you want to grab the Pose Template I used in this episode, come get it here:

    💎Master Course Diamond Collection (Hi-Res, PSDs, and Template Set):

    🏡My Patreon is having a Summer Event!! Every Patron will receive a Mystery Pin Gift (Sign up by June 29)

    Grab my Essentials Brush Pack that I just released!:

    Join our active Community on Discord!:

    I hope you enjoy my new Landscape piece. The next episode will be the FINALE of the Master Course series teaching Cinematic Storytelling and then we'll put our portfolio together with everything we've done in the series!

  2. What an artist can create is a world by itself. Artists for whom art is an expression of their individuality will leave a footprint in the world.

  3. Wow!! I wish i could afford to buy bigger digital tab, it must be comfortable to draw, i draw on my small phone, and i struggle to draw,, especially when putting details 😅

  4. Why in the world would you cut out the part where you are doing all of the real work of pulling everything together (@ 17:00) would be nice to watch you work!

  5. this is a master class, just this episode if you master those tips,disney will hire you for sure 😂🤩🤩🥰🥰

  6. is adding pictures from google to your painting not copyright? ive been avoiding it just in case. You said "people in the industry" do that. So its totally fine?

  7. when i close my eyes i see the darkness slowly get painted into a vast darkened forest with myself in it, lit only by the person who stands next to me.

  8. Look at this digital paint course COMPLETE COURSE – COREL PAINTER – Digital Art Painting Software

  9. I liked "Mother Nature has the best design".
    I would freak my 3D students out by taking everyone OUTSIDE!
    Get out of the computer and observe what you're trying to create.
    Also loved closing your eyes advice!

  10. Thank you so much, it was so much fun and so intresting to watch, I can't wait but try your advices and techniques in my next project ! This is so cool. Thanks Ross ! And for your good vibes and smile !

  11. I'm sittin up here thinkin all this time yall sum good ass artists.. WHOLE TIME YALL UP HERE DOIN PHOTOSHOP N SHIT CHEATIN LOWERING MY SELF ESTIMATES OF ART😅😅🤣

  12. holy shit, the final drawing looks nothing like what he had been doing! (textures and such) He must have spent at least 3 hours after he cut the scene!
    That photo technique is amazing! I might not use it for like final pieces, but it's the best to find what you will do!

  13. Badly needed tutorials for creating environments and came across this vid. Love the refreshing and wholesome approach when you draw! You're like the Bob Ross of digital painting. Thank you so much for this. You just gained a new subscriber.

  14. Tbh I had a pretty low opinion of you before this series, not like I didn't think you were talented but I thought you didn't have anything to offer those of us who are already working artists. But this series was really a lot of fun and is worthwhile for your happy personality alone. It's interesting to see how other designers take a concept to a (semi) finished illustration. I hope you do more content like this that isn't just faces

  15. Adding photos is a great tool for ''concept art'' but doesn't teach you how to actually paint the things you add into the illustration.
    Teaching aspiring artist still on their road of learning the basics to use photographs, can be very destructive in the long run.
    Just my two cents.

  16. This is rad Ross! I totally used this technique before! Love to see a veteran using it too! I used a similar technique on a skydiving/ planet illustration. Check it out! Also, thank you for posting such a great video, It's so inspirational and educational. Not to mention entertaining!

  17. Ross: unless you're like the greatest leaf painter

    Also Ross: inserts some Detroit Become Human scene with Markus

    DBH fans: MARKUS-

  18. When you described the scene, while I had my eyes closed, I had the most amazing view before my eyes. I just wish I was skilled enough to draw it. Maybe someday, but until then I will probably have forgotten it.

  19. I suffer from aphantasia so, as much as I close my eyes, I can't see, hear, smell nor feel anything. But, besides that, all the other tips were super helpful!

  20. Anyone have a source for good assets like the for trees and such besides just google? Like various textures and pics like he has?

  21. You’re so descriptive with your teaching, this has been super helpful! Thanks for taking the time to create these for us!❤️

  22. I would love to get started learning this kind of art but I am limited to my Ipad. Does anyone here know if Procreate or Affinity is more suited for projects like this or if there is another, better app?

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