Planet "Atheron" Base Camp Tutorial


This illustration is done using Affinity Designer and a couple of After Effects simple expressions and effects. Although there's many things I enjoyed creating it, the part I liked the most is the sky.


In this tutorial I will take you through the creation of the landscape itself. The animation part won't be covered, but if you're interested in knowing more about it, join us in the Illustration Faction Group or join the Newsletter for more tutorials were we discuss all things illustration, graphics software and Affinity apps.


Final illustration in Affinity Designer and animated using After Effects



The first thing I did was to get my mind set on the new planet I wanted to recreate. I didn't use any reference so at least, I wanted to have a name! To generate a good name for my fictional planet I used this site.



Let's start!



1. Document and background


Create a new document in File>New Document and set dimensions 3000x200 px approximately. I usually work at a high DIP (300) in case I want to print it later. Set the Orientation to landscape.



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Next, drag the Rectangle tool over the canvas and cover it completely. Use the Fill tool over the rectangle by dragging it over. You will now see the gradient tool (Fill tool) in action. Set the gradient to Linear in the contextual upper menu and place it as you see in the mage, slightly slanted to the left.


The colours used are, left to right: # FA725F, # C2B792 and # 826FBA.

Name it "Background" and lock it using the lock pad on the top right corner of the Layers panel.


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Create a rectangle of around 540px height, colour # 2579AC and 30% Opacity.

Place it on the bottom of the canvas, as in the image below. This will be the first layer to create the sea, so name this object accordingly in the Layers panel.



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Duplicate this shape and change the fill colour to # FFA2E1. In the Layers panel give it a Glow blend mode. Right click on it and hit the Convert to Curves option. Make it 30% Opacity and apply a Linear transparency on the right end, dragging over it with the Transparency tool (Y). Add some nodes with the Node tool (A) to break a bit the shape and create something similar to what you see in the image below.


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Now, place it over the other shape you just created for the sea. This will be the second layer for the water. Name it accordingly.


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Duplicate this layer, flip it horizontally using the Transform upper menu and change the fill colour to # 006DF4. Place it over the other two sea layers and name the object accordingly.



*Tip : I f you don't see the names for the menus on the upper toolbar, go to View>Customise toolbar and on the bottom of the dialog that opens, check the option "Icon and Text". I usually have the names at sight when I create tutorials, but not for this one, as I just installed the new update, and forgot to do so.



This is how the illustration should look by now:

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2. The Mountains


To create the mountains, simply trace with the pen tool a shape more or less like in the image below, and give it a # 535353 colour with 80% Opacity. I also added a bit of noise (optional).


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Then, create a new shape, give it a # FF7D6F colour and clip mask it inside the mountain shape. This will be light reflecting over the mountain.


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Now, repeat this with a new shape to create the mountains that will be on the right side. Colour fill is # AD6161 and for the sunlight # FF7D6F. Proceed the same way to insert a bit of light over it with a Clipping mask (Insert Inside Object). Place this new shape below the previously created mountain in the layers panel. Click over the image below to see the Layers panel and how the objects have been organised.


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Now duplicate the second mountain shape, modify a bit the shape as in the image below, and overlap it adding an Exclusion blend mode to it. I also have moved a bit the shape for the sunlight that I have clipped masked inside it. This is something I go changing as I create the illustration, and see how it works best.


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2. Fog and Clouds


This is my favourite part in this tutorial.


First, I downloaded these brushes from the Affinity Forum created by Craig Deeley.


They are vector brushes, so once downloaded, go to the Brushes panel in the Designer Persona, and on the top left menu, select Import brushes.


They are really good!


Now with the Pen tool, trace a path (no fill, just stroke). Give a gradient to this stroke as in the image below. Colours are, left to right: # 877CA7, # F7A98C and # D9817D. Give the stroke a Hard light blend mode in the Layers panel. Duplicate it and leave it right on top but make the opacity down to 60%.



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Now duplicate this stroke several times more, and paint the sky with them, changing the nodes so it all looks more or less like in the image below. By duplicating and overlapping some of them I manage to create some very nice light effects. I also put one over the water, as if it was a reflection from the sky. Group all the clouds and name the group "Clouds".


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2. The Base Camp


With some basic shapes, create a city like I have done. I must confess that this is a bit of a recycled graphic that I had stored in my Assets panel from a space ship I created some time ago. By grabbing some of the pieces, combining them differently, adding new modules and so forth, I create a minimalistic Base Camp graphic.


Notice how they are simple basic shapes, many of them from the primitives basic shapes combo on the left tool bar. Here, you can copy the city I have created, or you can create your own.


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge



Once I am happy with my Base Camp drawing that I have created in a different canvas, I cut it and paste it into the futuristic landscape, adding a Passthrough blend mode to it.


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Next, I grab some of the modules for the Base Camp and duplicate them, randomly place them in different positions and scale them down, in order to create the city that is in the background horizon, as a distant city or construction.


I duplicate it a couple of times and position it right above the layer called "background".

One thing I like to take special care of is the positioning of the elements. With this I mean that now, I will move a bit the main Base Camp in order to fit harmoniously with the background city so the elements of both don't overlap or are too close together. A nice composition is key for a good result. You can see the result in the next image below.



3. The Sun and Sun Beam


I also create the sun with a simple circle with a fill colour # FEF4BE and a ellipse on top of it colour # FF9B68 and with a Gaussian blur of 23px. Some people would directly apply an Outer glow for this. You can do that too, but I usually prefer to use 2 different shapes. My own choice :)


With the very nice pack of Luminance brushes, that sometimes Serif makes available for free to download from the Affinity website, this time in the Pixel persona Brushes panel, I pick the one called "Waveform" and create a light beam with a yellow colour and apply a "Screen" blend mode to it. Don't worry if you don't have these brushes pack. There are many other similar light beam brushes available for free on the web. You just need to Google "light beam brushes" and you'll find a ton of them.






4. The Reflection Over Water


To make the reflection over water, grab the Base Camp group and duplicate it.

Flip it vertically and add a Linear transparency to it with the Transparency tool - the glass icon on the left tool bar (Y) - , making it transparent on the bottom area, in such a way that it looks like it is fading away as it separates from the base line where it meets with the Base Camp itself. Next, clip mask it in the top sea object layer either through the Layers panel or using the "Insert Inside Selection" icon (Insertion menu).


Finally, I add a colour layer that I create by dragging a rectangle over the whole canvas, colour # 8B4C22, 15% Opacity and a Glow blend mode. With this I add a warmer tonality to the whole illustration.





And this is the final result



If you want to know more, join us in the Illustration Faction Group or join the Newsletter


I will be glad to see what you create and help you with doubts.



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