2 replies · posted

Backgrounds - what's your process?

Hello fellow cookie munchers,

I'm a character artist at heart, and I have almost no interest in making backgrounds... but I find it is an essential skill to give your characters a world. For instance, you can either put them in a white void, or in a room that is designed to reflect their personality. Are they messy? Then the room is messy too. It really shows who they are as a person.

So I wanted to know, what do most of you guys do for backgrounds? Do you just bite the bullet and make  your own assets?

Do you use the Blender market background assets? That seems like it could get expensive pretty fast. Also, the assets are quite beautiful but usually rather generic to be able to be used in any project. I'm not sure how one would really convey their character's personality with stock assets and furniture.


If you are an indie artist, there is limited time to spend on backgrounds. How do you go about making/purchasing them?

  • I think it really depends on whether you're just trying to show off your character or if you're trying to tell a story. If the character design is the main focus, it's often better to use a plain background such as a color gradient and some vignette, and perhaps some smoke or particle overlay behind the character. This keeps the background from distracting from the character. If you're really trying to tell a story, I find it useful to brainstorm this when you first start designing the character. Think about what pose and setting you'd like to see them in, and use that to your advantage when modeling/texturing/lighting. Personally, I think that if you want to see your character in a scene in order to give them some story and life, it is worth your time to design and model your own background/scene so that it conveys exactly what you want it to. But generally, you don't want the surroundings to distract from the character, so keep it subtle and make sure your character is separated from the background by using color, depth of field, etc. A great source of reference for these two approaches for backgrounds is on ArtStation. Sort by Picks and Digital 3D, then sort either by 'Characters' or 'Story Telling' and note the differences. Good luck!

    • Very solid advice, thank you!

      I think right now I just want to showcase my characters, so I'll go for simplicity. I could definitely see myself wanting to tell a story later on, though. It would be very fun to make a short video (like I'm doing in the Piero tutorial), and I think you definitely need a good BG for a video short.