Background tutorial by Carl-Johan Hagberg

Welcome to my Background tutorial. When I paint my backgrounds I usually use an old Ms-Dos paint program called Deluxe Paint II and also a bit of Photoshop. Just getting your hands on Deluxe Paint II can be a difficult task, but just search the net and you will eventually find a copy. It’s important that you use Deluxe Paint and not the similar program Deluxe Animation Studio for this tutorial.

If you have problems running Deluxe Paint II on your computer, I recommend using DOSBox to emulate an Intel x86 PC.

This is the background that we are going to paint:

Background tutorial finished

Part 1 – Drawing the basic layout.

When I draw the basic layout for my backgrounds I use Photoshop. If I want to paint a room for example, I check out the Last Crusade backgrounds so I get the same angles in my background. However, if you are painting backgrounds that doesn’t have to resemble Last Crusade backgrounds you can use more “correct angles”. Most backgrounds in Last Crusade are around 320 x 150 (the single screen ones) so most of my single screen rooms are around that size. Now draw your room layout in Photoshop or in your favorite paint program. My room layout for this tutorial will look like this:

Background tutorial part 1

This is the basic layout that we are going to use for our background. Usually I do all the layouts myself but this one I credit to our new team member Francois.

When the layout is ready, save the file as .pcx format, but before you do, make sure that you have changed the color mode to “index”. To do this in Photoshop click “image” in the menu, choose “mode”, click “indexed colors”. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to open the picture in Deluxe Paint since the program can’t handle true colors.

Part 2 – Picking the right colors.

You probably have an idea of what colors you want to use for your background. In my case, I want the background to be similar to the original Barnett College-backgrounds from Last Crusade. To make this possible I need the palette from one of those backgrounds. There are a few programs out there, like “Lucas Riper”, that can extract backgrounds from old SCUMM-games. You can also take a screenshot from the actual game. If you take a screenshot it is recommended that you use a screen capture program so that you get all the colors from the background. After you have a copy of the original background, save the image as a .pcx file, using the method I described in part 1.

Now that I have the original Last Crusade background saved as a .pcx, I start Deluxe Paint II and I first open my own basic layout. I need to copy the whole layout using the “copy tool”. Note that you might have to change the white background-color before doing that since it gets transparent when you copy it. After I have copied the background, I open up the original background and paste my background over it. As I result I now have the correct pallet for my background. It should look like this:

Background tutorial part 2

To the right you can see a part of the original background from Last Crusade that I am using. As you see the colors on the layout changes after you have pasted the image. This normal so don’t worry. It has to do with the different palettes.

I will start with the wall (Note that I will add a window later). I look at the wall from the original background (in this case the corridor at Barnett College) and I choose the colors for my gradient. I want to use these colors, so how do I do it?:

Background tutorial part 2b

Part 3 – Using gradients

So how do I make a gradient out of those colors? It’s easy. Just click the gradient button to the right. You now get to the gradient menu which looks almost the same as the one we just looked at. Start by selecting the first color that we want to use for the gradient and click “build”. Now select the last color for the gradient. It should now look like this:

Background tutorial part 3

The Gradient is now built. Let’s use it! Click “ok” to get back to our background. Now click on the gradient button:

Background tutorial part 3b

Click the “fill tool” with the right mouse button:

Background tutorial 3c

Make sure the settings are like this:

Background tutorial part 3d

Now left click the “fill tool” and use it on the walls. The result should look like this:

Background tutorial part 3e

Make sure that you have the brightest color from the gradient at the bottom of the wall and the darkest at the top.

It’s now time to paint the wooden panels below the wall. For these panels I create a gradient out of these four brown colors:

Background tutorial part 3f

Before you click ok you must add some splatter to this gradient. In this way the colours mix more random than they did on the wall. Choose this splatter setting:

Background tutorial part 3g

Now Paint the wood panels. The result should look like this:

Background tutorial part 3h

It looks better but we still need to add some details to the wood panels. I checked out how they looked in Last Crusade and my final result on the wood panels look like this:

Background tutorial part 3i

Now I do the same thing with the board:

Background tutorial part 3i

Now it is time for the door. This is one of the more tricky parts of the room. Before I add gradients to the door I have to paint all the details on how I want the door to look:

Background tutorial part 3k

I start with the upper wood gradient. This one is easy. Just do as you did with the wood panels. When that gradient is done I do the window gradient. I want to use two separate gradients for the window. One for the area in the shadow, a darker gradient. And one for the rest of the window. I start by doing the darker area by filling the whole window with it. After that I paint the lighter area over the darker one, leaving just a string from the darker gradient. See picture below. For the dark gradient I used maximum splatter.

Background tutorial part 3l

Now do the same for the rest of the door. Final result on the door should look something like this:


Note that on the lower part of the door I changed the filling tool setting to highlight. You can do this too, but it takes a bit of experimenting to get it to look good.

This is a door from last crusade compared to my door. The door to the left is from last crusade. With some more adjustment you can get your door to look almost exactly the same, but I am happy with the result for now:

Background tutorial part 3n

The final thing we have to do in Deluxe Paint is the ceiling. I have found a room at Barnett College from the Last Crusade game that has wooden bars at the top. I open that room and paint my own ceiling in that room. I have to paint it in that room because of the palette. When the ceiling is done save the picture. It should look like this:

Background tutorial part 3o

You can of course import the colors to our background image pallet but I think it is easier this way.

Part 4 – Fixing and pasting in Photoshop

Now I save my image and open it in Photoshop for the final details. When you open an image made in Deluxe Paint II in Photoshop it looks a bit strange, but no worry. Just click “image” on the menu, chose “pixel aspect ratio” and click “square”. Now everything should look fine. Copy the wood bars we just made and open up our classroom-picture. Change the color mode to RGB before we paste. Now paste the ceiling into our classroom.

Now it is time to fix the floor. This can be done in both deluxe paint II or in photoshop, but since Photoshop is so easy to use, let’s us it.

I’m starting with using the color: RGB 138, 82, 0 on the wood floor. and the darker color 77, 46, 0 on lines on the wood floor. I then use noise filter 2,51% uniform with monochromatic on the floor. On the desk I use 74, 34, 6 to paint the outline and fill the desk with the color 86, 42, 6. You should also shade the desk a bit by using some lighter colors on the side of the desk or by using the light/darken tool carefully.

Now your picture should look something like this:

Background tutorial part 4

Now time for the most important thing… THE DETAILS!

I added these details:

  • Map – I opened up a map room from Last Crusade and re-sized it.
  • Bookcase – I looked through all the Last crusade backgrounds and found some bookcase but I hade to change the colours a bit.
  • Windows – Easy to paint. You decide how you want them to look.

After some adjustment this is the final result:

Background tutorial part 4b

Good Luck!

/Carl-Johan Hagberg