Christmas Concept Art (With Lighting Effects)

Christmas Concept Art

Tis the season for Christmas Concept Art. The assignment I gave myself was to design a Christmas scene with a focus on textures and lighting effects also ensuring that I divided the foreground, middle, and backgrounds appropriately. This piece was created with Clip Studio Paint and is almost 43 layers…Yikes! That’s a lot for me.

What did I do first?

The first thing I did was browse through internet to find some references of Christmas scenes, winter backgrounds, and some cool colored environments….brr. After getting a general idea for what I wanted to create, I sketched out my different sections using a selection tool this time. I used to just pencil the whole design out using a G-Pen or brush tool but the selection tool saved me a lot of time. I also used reduced the opacity each time that I went further into the background.

Next Steps

I built the entire scene using only a grayscale and focused entirely on where the lights and darks needed to be along with any other atmospheric dispersion. Spending the most time on this part really helped me identify any composition errors, tangents (where an element touches something else create depth confusion), and balance.


During the coloring phase, I used a lot of different layer settings. I used Hue, Color, and Overlay layers the most. I found that I could quickly play around with different color schemes without having to erase a lot. Gradient maps also saved me a ton of time combined with the air brush selection tool combo.

Finishing Touches

I used additional gradient maps to darken specific areas and glow layers to add some special effects. Mote time was spent than normal zooming around the design and adding thoughtful detail. I actually saved my progress, walked away for a day, and then returned to it to make a lot of corrections that I was missing during my initial phases. Lots of last minute tweaks.

To get the effect that you see in this design, I used a dark blue exclusion layer over the whole piece. This really added a nice level of nighttime darkness which I erased back out where light would naturally fall. Once I did all that and was happy, I exported the version with the exclusion layer as a .jpg and then reimported it into Clip Studio Paint. After extending my canvas, I dropped the other version next to the first one I did so you can see the differences side by side.

Special Thanks.

I have been studying a lot of techniques offered by Trent Kamingua. His courses have helped me to identify a lot of the flaws that I have missed in my own work and really helps you understand the basics. Simplicity is where it starts. Too complex, and you drown in your own process. I am no way an instant professional now that I’ve practiced these skills. It’s something you have to do every day.

Courses which helped me the most are.

Landscape Painting Workshop Lessons 1-10 (

This one really showed me how to simplify environments…and when he says don’t just jump to the colorization video, he means it. I did that. You really have to practice how to read a reference.

Diablo 3 Environment Concept Art Workshop “Overgrown Dungeon” (

This was just really cool. I loved playing the Diablo games and never knew he was one of the artists…wow. Anyway, another good set of techniques to help understand how elements are supposed to work together.

Hearthstone Illustration Workshop (

I enjoyed the thumbnailing process in this course. This is useful in building some ideas to get started.

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