A look into our process

Mixed Media

By Kristine Synowka

The art of backgrounds

What's a great story without an immersive setting? Background elements and prop pieces can create mood, convey details of the plot, or hide clever Easter eggs. The place where a story takes place is just as important as the characters in a movie.

Mixed Media Methods

Landscape Pieces

When creating backgrounds, I blend digital and handmade aesthetics so my final work has the best of both worlds.

To take full advantage of the computer as a tool for creating artwork, I first make my background pieces separately. Most of my pieces are also created with traditional media, like watercolors, and then scanned into the computer.

Scans are then cleaned up and edited in the computer. Sometimes I will adjust an image's colors or use Photoshop's brushes to refine or add detail.

Once all the preparation work on the pieces is complete, the background is made by compositing all of the pieces together. With a little tweaking of color and size, surprising detail and depth can be achieved.

Landscape Demo2

Student Interpretations

Students using these methods are challenged to think beyond relying on basic paint fills or simply drawing a static background they way they would work with just pencil and paper. Our students explored combining hand-made objects and textures with Photoshop filters, color adjustments, and digitally created characters.

And their experimentation and hard work paid off. Detailed backgrounds with carefully selected colors gave students the perfect stage for their character's journeys and antics.

Student Example2 Student Example1