I’m reading a book on Maurice Noble, the famed background layout artist whose work at Disney and Warner Bros. are the stuff of legend. Mr. Noble’s background designs are brilliant, and I have a lot to learn from studying his work.
Though I work digitally, I approach background design from a painting perspective. I prefer the minimalistic, stylized look as opposed to photorealistic rendering. I prefer to let shapes, not lines, dictate the environment.
Below are the color flats for one of the Egyptian backgrounds I was working on earlier this week. Using the pencil sketch, I establish a base color (yellow). From there, I work with tonal values of yellow (lighter and darker shades) using the lasso tool to carve out shapes. Photoshop’s polygon and regular lasso tools are incredibly powerful, and in my humble opinion, vastly underrated as a development tool.
For reference, here are the rough pencils:
Once I’ve established the flat colors, I then turn my attention towards textures and color cohesiveness. A high quality paper texture can imbue material properties, like stone, when thoughtfully applied. I take care not to overdo the textures – preferring subtlety instead.
For the final image, I felt that the hieroglyphics would add too much clutter to the composition, so I added a small repeating sine wave to the base of the pyramid instead.