I have a good friend, Tara, who is a talented digital illustrator who works exclusively in Photoshop. She graciously offered to digitally paint my 42-foot long backdrop. What a nice friend!

She just completed five different sections to complete the digital work. Every artist has a particular technique and look that they prefer, and Tara’s brushwork is bolder and tends to look a little too digital for my taste. I want the backdrop to have a painterly look that is more representational of the Rock Island and Milan environments rather than a hyper-realistic view.

This goes against the predominant approach that most prototype modelers use, but I’ve always admired more painterly, impressionistic art and wanted to incorporate that same look into the backdrop. Plus, I believe most modelers view backdrops as secondary to the modeled portion of the layout, so taking liberties with the visual style seems perfectly appropriate.

Below are two images showing a detailed portion of the Rock Island section. The first is a straight-up view of Tara’s original artwork while the second image shows how I altered the art to look more fluid or impressionistic. When viewed from even a short distance the overall backdrop looks very realistic, but up close one can see the painterly effect. This is exactly what I’m trying to achieve.

Original digital artwork.

Impressionistic filter applied to the same scene.

I’ll be sending the artwork off to be output and hopefully within the month will have a full backdrop to share.

Below is the full backdrop in five sections.
Move the cursor over each section to see details.