Paint Over 3D Render

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I had use 3D render as a starting point for my some of paintings and I never try to hide that from anyone. Some people was interest on my work flow, so here is a brief walkthrough on how I use 3D render for my paintings.

Disclaimer: I suffer from partial colorblindness and never went to any art school. Technique and theory in this tutorial might not be correct. This is also not an in-depth step by step tutorial and it is meant for people that have some knowledge on Photoshop.

The Artwork “Construction Site”

construction site painting

This is the final artwork that I did last weekend. Most of the main elements here are 3D render, except the clouds, distance trees, and sun.

3D Modeling

3d assets

I start off the process by preparing all the necessary 3D models in this scene. All these assets are model with Blender3D.

Blender3D render

These models are later render without material or texture with a simple hemi and sun light to cast the shadow and highlight.

3d assets

I also render all the assets in different alpha PNG so I can seperate them in different layers. The layers will help a lot when we are doing the painting later.

Sky color


The first thing I did was painting the background sky color. You can do this with the gradient tool, or paint with the soft round edge brush.



Add another layer on top sky layer, and paint the clouds. I paint the clouds in different layer so I won’t screw up the sky gradient.



Add another layer and paint the distance mountain/trees. I paint them with 2 custom brushes I made.



Add another layer and use the soft round edge brush to paint some fog/haze to simulate depth. You can try to play with different blending modes for the layer.



Add more layers again…
1) Sun layer are behind everything except cloud and sky.
2) Sun glow layer are infront of everything. Look at the fence to see the different.
3) Sun burst layer are infront of everything.

HINT: Sun burst can achieve with radial blur with zoom settings.

Glowing effect usually can be easily achieve with “add” or “screen” layer blending mode.

Color Adjustment/Grading


My 3D render was really just gray color everywhere because I didn’t spend much time on the settings. So, to quickly match the atmospheric color. Here’s are what I had done with this artwork. From left to right:

1) Original
2) 100% Color Photo Filter, preserve lumo.
3) Adjust blue level output, so the dark shadow area will be blueish.
4) More adjustment on the RGB levels. Increasing the dark, and bright area.



Adding in the highlight and specular. This step look simple, but it will add alot to the final artwork.

More details


I add in more items to the scene because I feel it was still lacking something.

1) Birds are draw with hard edge round brush in Photoshop.
2) Signs are rasterized text and distort to match the perspective.
3) Electric pylon was my old 3D render, drag from another Photoshop file.

Check out my earlier walkthrough/brief tutorial to see how I paint clouds and trees.

Makoto Shinkai Style Painting Tutorial
Anime Style Background Tutorial


Latest drawing base on the same method (2015).
construction site background art

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Posted in Art and Design | Tags: , , ,
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5 kind souls comment on “Paint Over 3D Render”

  1. Perihelia says:

    Just found your blog and it has really awesome tutorials! Best ‘shinkai’-style tuts and environment 3d-paint-over-hints all over the web. You’re great, bro.

  2. […] Shinkai Style Background Tutorial (Nov 2013) Paint Over Photo (Aug 2013) Paint Over 3D Render (June 2013) Anime Style Background Tutorial (Dec 2012) Makoto Shinkai Style Painting Tutorial (Oct […]

  3. mclelun says: have some of the best tutorial on blender. Or you can post your question in forum

  4. kim ilsung says:

    Hey I was wondering if there were any good blender/3d tutorials/videos you knew of to help me render objects for backgrounds. Big fan, keep up the great work!

  5. […] from my last blog entry about 3D paint over, this time I will write about my workflow on turning photo into anime style […]

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