By Christopher Gonzalez

This guide goes hand in hand with our Art Guides. Each pack is created by a different artist who also creates the cover image. This article is designed to guide you in creating your own artwork. Enjoy!

Download the PSD and Images used in this article. Then follow along and recreate it, or make your own!
Download the Cambodia Sunset Assets and PSD!

What is the story being told in your cover art?

Hey! My name is Christopher Gonzalez, I work as Matte Painter and Concept artist in the entertainment industry and I have been working in this beautiful industry for a couple of years now. Well, I usually love doing Sci-Fi, who doesn't!? Designing ships and technology of the future is always super attractive as well as making epic landscapes but this time I wanted to try to do something simpler like a sunset in Cambodia.  The main thing, I think, was that I wanted to show this woman in the front, and how she makes a living on the boats. So in this it's like this is the last boat coming in from the day, with all of the people working.


Step 1 - Sketch

When I start an image from scratch I imagine that I am starting to cook something new, maybe I make a soup where the shapes, lights and color are my ingredients. I will take the Image pack from Cambodia and start trying to capture what I imagine would be a sunset In Cambodia. I will start throwing around colors and shapes with the help of the photos. It doesn't matter if the perspective or the light is 100% correct. What we want to achieve at the beginning is to throw all the ingredients until the soup starts to taste good.

The initial image base

Step 2 - Layout

Now that I have the idea, I will create my base in 3D to get the perspective and free lighting right. I will make some very simple models and an illuminated layout based on the photos from the Image Pack and I will allow them to guide me with the reference sketch.

Creating a mock layout

Step 3 - Sky

Now I will begin to create my sky that will be the base for integrating my elements into the image. The sky is always very important because it will be the base for creating the atmosphere.

Roughly putting the Sky into place
Quick Tip: To work in a non-destructive way, I will put all my adjustment layers and my layer in a group and then put that group in normal mode so any setting that I apply will only affect the content of my layer.
Grouping layers

Step 4 - Photobash

My favorite part is here, the fun! With my 3D layout and the Image Pack I will start to photobash and paint all of my elements in the Image trying to maintain the original atmosphere and light. Here we will have to add a little more to tell what is happening in the image. I will add some people in the image to give it life, maybe put a lady finishing the day and lifting her food stand, some children swimming and men fishing; like some props that give good detail. I'm always thinking about adding elements that makes your image feel more alive!

Adding atmosphere to the image with some Photobashing

Step 5 - Color correction

Finally, I have all of my elements in the Image with the light and the color that I need. Now I will put color adjustments and curves above my layers to give that contrast and life to the colors that will make my image more interesting.

Quick Tip: you can use the same image to turn it into a mask, contrasting the image and desaturating it until it has black and white values, then if you press and hold ALT and left click on the layer mask you can paste the image you desaturated by making it act like a mask, very effective to work water reflections!

Step 10 - Final Image

That would be all, I hope it has been helpful to continue creating!

The Final Image

There you have it!  Go and download the Image pack and see what you can bring to life with this tutorial's help!

Thanks again!

Christopher Gonzalez
Artstation | Facebook | LinkedIn
Download Christopher's PSD and the assets used to create this image.