How to Draw Environment Concept Art? 7 Tips for Drawing Realistic Environments

Drawing environments is hard, but it’s also an incredibly important skill for any aspiring concept artist.

Unfortunately there aren’t many resources available to help beginners learn how to draw environment concept art. Most of the tutorials out there are either filled with too much jargon or don’t focus enough on drawing realistic landscapes.

That’s why we created this guide! We’ve compiled all of our best tips and tricks into one place so you can master landscape drawing in no time at all.

What is Environment Concept Art ?

What is Environment Concept Art ?
What is Environment Concept Art ?

Environment concept art is a kind of visual art and design. Concept artists use their skills to visualize ideas for environments that the production team need in the game or film they are working on. The environment can be anything from an abandoned space station, a little island in the ocean, a medieval castle, etc. This type of artwork requires very talented and skilled concept artist who will be able to put all the pieces together and make something beautiful out of it. You may not think so but making environment concept art take quite a bit of technical knowledge especially when you want to create something believable enough for people to get sucked into it and become fully immersed into this world you created .

How can it be used in a game/film/animation?

Usually environment concept art is used in a production where the story takes place in different locations or places , for example, a medieval castle, an abandoned space station, a destroyed city etc. The artists will need to visualize all these types of locations and also create them in a way that is visually interesting and appealing . This is really important because if the audience feels bored looking at it then they won’t be interested with what’s going on in the film or game itself.

How to draw environment concept art?

How to draw environment concept art
How to draw environment concept art

Step 1 – Do some research

Before you sit down and start drawing, you need to know what you want to draw otherwise it will turn out looking like a mess.

You can look up references of medieval castles or abandoned space stations etc. The more references the better because they will give you ideas of what kind of objects surround this location. For example, trees, plants , rocks, waterfalls etc.

If there are any images that stand out to you then use them as your reference . Try not to copy them though because this is just an environment concept art which means nobody needs to make it perfect or 100% realistic.

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It’s all about visualizing the idea behind the scene. This way when people see it , they will understand what went behind this scene without you having to say anything .

Step 2 – choose perspective

Now that you have your references, think of what perspective would suit the picture best. Usually I like to start off in bird’s eye view because it gives me more freedom when drawing but if for example, you are making an environment concept art of a medieval castle then probably top-down or side-view would be better choice.

Just make sure that whatever perspective you choose, it works with the location , otherwise the drawing will have an awkward feel to it which isn’t good . Most of all just don’t rush into things!!! Take your time thinking about how everything fits together and draw some rough shapes on paper before moving on if needed .

Step 3 – block in shapes

Now that you have your perspective down, it’s time to start blocking in shapes. Don’t think of them as just random lines on the paper because the idea is to draw using simple geometric shapes.

So if you can’t draw an oblong then you need do some research on how to draw basic shapes . It will take quite a bit of practice before you can see improvement but with enough repetition, anyone can learn to improve their drawing skills.

You don’t have to make it perfect though because this is only for blocking the location out . What I usually do at this stage is use triangle or square shape and try my best not making everything look symmetrical. Symmetry does look nice but too much symmetry isn’t really good either because it will look boring after a while.

Step 4 – start drawing objects

Now that you blocked in the basic shapes of your location , it’s time to think about the little details such as debris, broken rocks etc.

As I mentioned earlier, try not to make everything symmetrical because this is what makes things look realistic . If everything was symmetrical then why wouldn’t it be perfect and equal? You can even add some asymmetry into the picture just to spice things up a bit and keep them fresh .

Another thing you should know about environment concept art is that even though we think of nature as beautiful and appealing , we don’t actually want our environment concept art looking like nature. This is because it won’t fit with the theme or narrative behind the game or film. So try adding more geometry to your picture.

For example, if you are making an environment concept art of a submarine then maybe draw some boxes or squares instead of natural decaying rocks .

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Step 5 – extra details

Now that you’re done with basic objects, it’s time to think about the smaller details like shadows and small bits like moss, ivy etc.

Just make sure that everything is working together . You don’t want one object overshadowing another because this could potentially cause clashes in the drawing which makes it look messy . All these little things should be subtle enough so they don’t take away from the main subject but still visible enough for the audience to notice them . That’s what makes your environment concept art look complete .

Step 6 – polish

Now that you have all the main details in the drawing , it’s time to do some polishing. At this stage, just look for anything you might have missed out on and add them in your environment concept art if needed.

The idea is not to change or fix things too much but just enough so it looks better than before . You could also use some elements from other locations mentioned above to give your drawing a more realistic feel because people are bound to notice these little details when they see them no matter how subtle they are .

Now all you need to do is finish off by adding final touches like color, lighting effects etc. What I usually try doing is take pictures in different times of the day in order to see how light affects the drawing .

Overall, that’s all you need to know about environment concept art!

A list of all the things you’ll need to create your own drawings:

    • A good quality drawing tablet (if you are drawing digitally)
    • Paper
    • Pencils/pens of different hardness
    • Eraser(s)
    • Drawing references (nature, photographs etc.)
    • Color palette (for digital painting)

Resources for learning more about drawing environments :

Resources for learning more about drawing environments
Resources for learning more about drawing environments

Drawing Dynamic Environments by Tony Moore

Tony Moore goes through all the different aspects in order to make your drawings look dynamic and realistic . Even though it’s not a book about environment concept art per se, there are many tips that can help you when drawing the environment around your characters. This is definitely worth checking out!

How to Draw Buildings and Other Structures by Richard E. Hughes

This is a great book which covers architectural drawing in the context of perspective, visual storytelling (both accurate and symbolic). I highly recommend checking it out! Even if you don’t want to draw buildings specifically, there are still many tips for environment concept art that can be found inside this book.

Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling

This is probably the best book when it comes to learning about perspective. If you are serious about environment concept art or simply anything in art, this book should be your number 1 priority if you want to learn more about linear perspective!

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Drawing Dynamic Tree and Plant Life by Mat Beck

I didn’t find many books that focus exclusively on drawing trees and other plants. From what I have seen, this seems to be the best book for learning how to draw realistic vegetation.

Drawing Trees by Richard Sheppard

This is another interesting book which focuses more on sketching while teaching you about different kinds of trees and how they are classified.

Trees by Betty Edwards

This book is more about drawing in general but it has many tips for drawing realistic vegetation that could prove very useful! Even if you don’t want to draw trees specifically, there are still plenty of helpful things inside like how to create depth with different kinds of shadows and textures.

Tips for drawing realistic environments:

  • Use reference pictures to help you draw realistic environments or any other concept art.
  • Don’t forget about lighting, fog, atmosphere and environmental effects when drawing environments.
  • Try drawing different times of the day so you can use light in your favor. For example, if you are trying to create a dark mood then drawing at night would be perfect!
  • Always keep in mind the theme and mood of your concept art.
  • Make use of geometry and asymmetry to add interest in your environment concept art and make it look more realistic.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment! Draw with confidence and you’ll see that you will improve over time.
  • Use these tips in any drawing or painting that you might be working on and you’ll find that it will help you improve!

In conclusion, it is important to have a clear understanding of the basic principles and concepts in environment art. The following are some general guidelines for drawing environments. Understand your composition first before you start drawing anything else. Knowing how to draw a background will help you create better scenes with more depth and atmosphere. You should also think about what type of lighting would work best for each scene that you’re creating but remember not to overdo it as this can distract from your painting’s subject matter or message. Finally, don’t forget color! Color is an easy way to make any image pop so be sure to use different colors throughout your piece or try adding shadows where appropriate – these tips will help ensure success when learning how to draw landscapes and other


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