Digital Basics TRACK: Lesson 5, Fantasy Landscapes


Use at least 3 reference photos to invent a fantasy landscape. Create depth in the landscape by using a diverse range of scales, atmospheric perspective, and composition.


@pandapufkin, Steen, Trent

Reference images

You can shoot your own photos, find photos online, and use our free reference photo collection.

Goblin Valley #57
Flickr album: Goblin Valley


Experiment with using reference images that are not literal representations of what you will transform them into. For example, if you are drawing a tree, try not using a reference photo of a tree.

Digital Basics Track: Fantasy Landscapes

In Cat’s painting, a reference photo of chicken feet turned into tree trunks!

Bird Reference #30
Flickr album: Chickens

Thumbnail sketches

  • Draw a minimum of six thumbnail sketches to figure out your composition.
  • Aim for having as much variety in your thumbnails as possible.
  • Tweak and re-crop the thumbnails until you’re satisfied.
  • Choose one thumbnail sketch to use for the final drawing.

Recommended software

ProcreateKritaAdobe PhotoshopClip Studio PaintPaint Tool SAIAdobe FrescoMediBang Paint, Gimp

Digital Tool Recommendations


Richard McGuire, Victoria Vincent, Alexis Rockman, Yves Tanguy, David Wiesner, Maxfield Parrish, Leo Lionni

We want to share your progress!

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Fantasy Landscapes in Procreate

See how you can create an fantasy landscape in Procreate, using a broad range of reference photos. You can dramatically manipulate and transform your reference photos to blend together into an unusual landscape.

Simple strategies like atmospheric perspectivetexture, foreground, middle ground, and background to create a convincing landscape. Demo by Teaching Artists Cat Huang and Deepti Menon.

Why Your Art Needs a Background

Do you rationalize to yourself why your artwork doesn’t need a background? Time to stop making excuses and see the immense potential that backgrounds can have on your artwork, regardless of the media you work in.

Backgrounds are not just visually rich and dynamic, but they contribute tremendously toward communicating a narrative, atmosphere or tone to your artwork, they are a powerful tool you don’t want to skip on!

Discussion with Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Cat Huang and Deepti Menon.

Show us what you make!

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