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Background Art

Basically I suck at background art... It's always the part I struggle with most when it comes to digital painting, it never seems to look right. I dont know if it's because I have a very rushed sketchy style to my work or I havent practiced enough...
anyway was wondering if anyone has any tips they wanna share with me?

I'm working on something now, I have the figure pretty much down, she's ment to be walking in the early hours of the morning.. just starting to get a little light again but a few street lights are still on.

I attempted the start of a background... but basically you get the idea. I need help!

If anyone can offer any advice I would be really grateful :)


Well-Known Member
I really like the character. As sketchy as the style is, the background definitely needs more structure, right now it's missing any kind of definition. I prefer the character without the additional lines on top as they obscure her a bit. If I were you I'd ask Mr Google for some photos that you could use to draw inspiration from in terms of composition and lighting. I think a rainy street/alley would work well with plenty of puddles and reflections. A street lamp would cause brilliant lighting effects not just on wet surfaces but in the rain itself too.
Thank you. It does defiantly lack definition, I like the rain idea too. Reflections may be a bit of a challenge, I'm not overly confident in colouring. I'm going play around with it though, probs keep posting little updates on here also.

Thanks Jim
Typo: I quite like the hazy/blur look haha, I mean she's suposed to have been walking for hours so that could give it a more abstract impression heh.

Webian: That's exactly what I was going for thank you!! Haha


Well-Known Member
I didn't see it as a boy though she is a little tomboyish, The stance and build definitely look like a lass overall, a boy would stand completely differently. Unless it was A.A. Milne's original drawings of Christopher Robin, who always looked like a girl to me.
attempted new background...
it's still a little dull, maybe more attention to detail is needed, also not sure if the lighting is okay. I have been staring at it for too long, I'd appreciate a fresh pair of eyes on it :)

Thanks, any comments appreciated


Senior Member
It looks like one of those old fashioned paintings that you can buy from cheap woman magazines. The legs of the girl are too short; her figure is disproportionate.
Cheap woman's magazines....magazines for cheap women?

I agree re leg length. Try changing the dark night into dark purples and blues...maybe a distant glow.

However at the mo it a pointless image unless it narrates a story.

Nice cone.
I saw a green cone tuther day. Happy as Larry I was.
Hey, the back ground still sucks. Ugh, I think I might take this down again and re work it. Possibly just scrap it and start afresh.

Not entirely sure what you mean by cheap women's magazine, maybe I dont read enough of them to understand. I'm guessing it's a pretty bad thing though.

I dunno about the legs, I kinda like them I think it gives her more character rather than a perfectly portioned figure and she is wearing a huge hoody, that kinda shrinks her down a bit I think.

O it's for a comic so it's like one of a few frames, that's why I'm thinking about the background so much.


Well-Known Member
I thought the hoodie was just too big for her (hands inside the sleeves) which is why the thighs looked shorter (not the entire leg, calves look longer) . Plus some foreshortening for the walking action. Looked alright to me anyway.

As for that background, we're mostly looking at a blank wall. I think it would work better if we could see where she's going/looking.
As it's one panel for a comic, where is she going?? That should inform your background composition.


Senior Member
Harri said:
Hey, the back ground still sucks (...)
No comment.

Harri said:
(...) Not entirely sure what you mean by cheap women's magazine, maybe I dont read enough of them to understand. I'm guessing it's a pretty bad thing though. (...)
Take your granny to the hairdresser or just go and see the dentist for a check (we should all do that anyway even if our teth are healthy). Then just give a quick look at the magazines you'll find. Notice the style. You don't need to read them :)

Harri said:
(...) O it's for a comic so it's like one of a few frames (...)
You should have said that from the start... it sounded as if you were talking about a single art work.
If it is a comic, it's different. A single frame doesn't matter as much, does it? It needs to be evaluated in a completely different way and I need to see a sample of the work it's part of. Plus I need to know the story (or at least the bit that is related to the image you've posted). It's a nonsensical discussion otherwise.
The original post was just general tips on background art, that was kinda more what I was after. Not so much as what it needs, but more techniques and ways of doing things. I should have been more clear.
Thanks anyway.


Staff member
Not strictly the same style as your work but maybe the style similar to that used in hyakka ryouran samurai girls (HRGS) anime (warning it's a bit ecchi) would work for the background.

HRGS is using a very uncommon style for anime with it's black outlined/sketchy characters, ink splodges etc but the background style could work quite well with your 'sketchy' look



Senior Member
WEBIAN said:
No comment.
it's actually quite helpful to have a comment when you critique something

but good shout by Levi for background ideas, anime always seems to have crazy background art.