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creating and animating a background visual for my D&D online campaign

In one of my active Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, the group discovered an ancient ruin in the dessert, where the entrance is a giant stone snakes mouth. As we are playing on the Alchemy RPG platform, I wanted to provide them a cool background for this epic location. I’d like to share my process of creating this background with you:

The background for the snake entrance scene

getting stock for the final idea

Because I’m sadly not talented in drawing digital art, I have to rely on the stuff other people create and share. I like to use to find inspiring artworks that I can use in my campaigns. Sometimes I stumble across the perfect image to use, most of the times my vivid imagination isn’t satisfied by the results. In those cases something new needs to be created. I knew that I wanted a dark hall or cave, which focuses the viewers attention on the entrance. I found this artwork by Krzysztof Orczyk which seemed to be perfect for my needs:

Forgotten Battlefield by Krzysztof Orczyk

Just one thing wasn’t what I looked for: The entrance being a skull. I needed it to be a snakes head. So I kept on searching and found another masterpiece:

Native American Temples – Snakehead Entrance by Jonas Hassibi

This stunning art provided the perfect snake entrance. Now I just had to put them together. Using Photoshop, I merged two artworks into one, resulting in this:

I removed the skull and the swords, as they didn’t fit into my lore. Then I took the snake head entrance from the second artwork, and made a few adjustments in color and so on.

Afterwards I wanted the scene to be animated, as the torches seemed perfect for me to be animated. I removed the fire in Photoshop, and used After Effects to create animated fire. I also chose to lit the snakes eye up a bit more sporadically, so that it omits a stronger green light for some time in the finished scene. The final result was this:

If you are interested in a speedlapse of how I created the scene in photoshop, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

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