Drawing a cute cartoon background is crucial if you want to end up with cute and appealing illustrations. Sure, it's nice to know how to draw a frog or a cartoon man, but if you cannot place these characters in relevant environment, then the whole process is useless. In this lesson, I will show you how to draw cool mountains and a nice valley using simple digital effects.
Fortunately, you don't have to draw complex shapes and structures to end up with a nice result. Sometimes, just a few basic elements are enough to create the desired effect. In this example, let's draw a simple field and a few mountains in the background using a variety of long curved lines and short broken ones. We can also add simple plain colors for now.
It's time to add some effects to create a more realistic cartoon background. First, let's add some gradient fills inside each element of the image. See how mountains are darker on the bottom and brighter on top? Notice how mountains on the back are done using a different technique?
Let's work on both mountains located in front. On the bottom part of these massive objects, you an draw a wide variety of dark shapes filled with plain colors. You can use the same color found inside the mountains, only slightly darker.
Next, use transparency to partially hide the bottom part of all these new shapes. The goal is to end up with a subtle result that is visible, but not too obvious. You can see the result in the next step.
For this step, you can add a dark shadow on the bottom of the white element found inside both mountains. You can also draw more shadows on the valley located on the bottom of the illustration. Just like in the previous step, you can use transparency to create a subtle effect.
Using the same technique, you can now create a wide variety of reflections using shapes colored in white. These new elements can be placed on top of both mountains as well as on the field below.
One last thing we can do is sketch a few clouds filled in white using a lot of transparency. It's also a good idea to draw a subtle sun in the middle of the illustration (or is it the moon?).
Below you can see the final illustration once all digital effects are added. It's not a complex cartoon background to create, but it does demand some knowledge using a vector application.
Above you can see a resume of all steps required to create this image. It's now time to be creative and draw more backgrounds using simple shapes and complex digital effects. You can try this simple cartoon valley or enjoy a complex waterfall also filled with great effects. Enjoy! :)
External resources: How to draw a landscape