How to practise drawing environment

Hello, here I will show you a few practices that will help you to learn drawing environment.

Painting environment was always a trouble for me – I just love drawing characters and never spend as much time practicing drawing enviro as on people. Of course, that’s not a good thing if my artworks lack a good background.

Below I’m posting a quick tutorial on how to learn to draw backgrounds I did for my friend.

Learning how to draw an environment

The most convenient way to practice is drawing from a photo resource. So my first step is selecting the photo with a landscape. You can find really great photos here: EarthPorn – on Reddit’s community. You can also try a Virtual Plenair on Google Maps, take a screenshot and basing on it, paint the landscape in your graphics software.

It doesn’t matter what graphics software you use or if you use traditional media. The practice’s goal is to learn how to draw an environment – understand how the light behaves, picking the right color and building your visual library.

For digital painting I use Adobe Photoshop, so the screenshots are from this software.

A few tips before starting:

I start drawing on a really small canvas. I don’t want to spend much time on drawing each photo – so I set up time alarm to 20 minutes. Remember, it’s just a practice, so don’t get fixated on creating a perfect drawing.
When I think that the drawing of my environment looks quite good, I zoom in the drawing and add the necessary details. That way I focus mainly on the composition and light, not the details.
Don’t use the pipette tool to get the right color. Try to select a proper color from a palette on your own – this will train your “eye” and allow to choose more suitable colors in your other paintings.

  1. Ok, so here’s my first step. I choose a photo to draw from the “EarthPorn” Reddit community and take my first approach to it.

2. Below you can see my first attempt to draw the photo. I tried to paint it right away with colors. It didn’t go well, so I decided to take another shot.

3. A second attempt to draw the jungle – in black and white. I decided to take a different approach and this time I drew the image in black and white to focus on composition instead of the colors. To make it easier, I also removed colors from the photo.

  1. After painting the photo in black and white, it’s time to add colors. I simply add another layer in Adobe Photoshop and select it’s mode to “Color”.

That’s all! As I mentioned before, I don’t practice painting environment on a big canvas.

Below you can see another screenshot made during my painting. That’s the canvas size I use for practicing painting landscapes – I zoom in only when I’m painting details. On the left is a photo, and on the right is my painting.


You can see great results even after few weeks of regular, daily training (that was in my case).
I drew the next exercises using the colors (without the “white and back” step). Below you can see paintings from my training.


Most of the paintings took me about 15 minutes. My favorite one is in the top right corner – I love the shadows there. The last one was really tricky when it comes to choosing the color.

To be frank, I  always disliked drawing backgrounds – I saw nothing interesting in them. But now I really enjoy painting landscapes, especially mountains – they are simply beautiful. And the attempt to capture this beauty in paintings is a real challenge.

Anyway, If you are here to learn how to draw landscapes and environment, here are my last words  – don’t give up and draw as much as you can!

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