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Design

How to Create a Sepia Kansas Farm in Isometric Pixel Art With Adobe Photoshop

Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
This post is part of a series called The Wizard of Oz.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Let's create one more building for our isometric pixel art collection, this time under the Wizard of Oz theme. We'll make a farmhouse based on Dorothy's.

We'll finish it in a sepia tone to match the film, but we'll make it in regular color so that the building is an easily recyclable element to be used if the need arises.

1. Define the Size

We should use our pixel art character to find a size we like for our building.

Step 1

We'll start with a square and a simple demarcation of a door to get a better idea of proportions.

The square doesn't need to be big at all, as we'll add more of a footprint next.

starting the farmhouses footprint

Step 2

Let's add another square, smaller, attached to one side of the original one.

adding to the farmhouses footprint

Step 3

And finally this longer section that will go on the back of the house.

adding to the farmhouses footprint

If you really want to be faithful to the movie's house, check for reference images of Dorothy's farmhouse. It's not completely clear which side is the front, but I'm quite confident Ms. Gulch enters through this door.

Step 4

Now let's give the house some height. Take the original square, and Alt-nudge or copy/paste it a good height above the footprint. The character should be useful for this.

Adding a floor height

Step 5

The other two sections of the house have lower roofs, so repeat the above but without reaching the same height.

adding secondary heights

Looks a little confusing. Let's clean it up.

Step 6

Remove the lines that make it seem as if the larger cube is see-through. Let's just make it a solid box, with vertical lines connecting the corners.

cleaning up lines

Step 7

And repeat the above with the other sections of the farmhouse.

I kept the line separating these two sections for future reference.

cleaning up lines

The volumes should be pretty clear now.

2. Create the Roof

Let's do the outlines of the roof. The geometry here can get tricky, especially if we want to avoid jagged lines, but there are a few shortcuts and foolproof lines we can use.

Step 1

In a New Layer, let's make a copy of these top squares, in the same place as they are but in a contrasting color for easier editing.

drawing edges of the roofs

Remember that you can draw lines very easily by clicking on one point while using the Pencil Tool, and then clicking on another point while holding down Shift.

Step 2

Now let's give the bigger, taller roof a slightly wider footprint than the walls below. Roofs will usually cover a larger area than the walls.

expanding edges of the roofs

Do the same to the smaller square, with the difference that it should grow only on the three sides that aren't connected to the larger section of the house.

expanding edges of the roofs

Step 3

Now to start projecting the roof upwards we can simply take one of the sides of a square, starting with the largest one, from corner to corner, copy it and then rotate it (Edit > Transform > Rotate 90˚), and then connect this new line with a corner of the square.

adding diagonal to roof

Step 4

To finish the first side of the roof's wireframe, you simply need a 1:1 diagonal line. You can draw it with the Pencil Tool or with the Line Tool, making sure its weight is 1 px and that anti-alias is turned off.

adding diagonal to roof

Step 5

To finish the wireframe for this section of the roof, we just need to replicate this new triangle we made and add one line connecting the two tips.

completing lines for largest roof

Step 6

Let's get that shape clean, removing the rear lines. We also won't need most of the right-facing bottom line.

cleaning lines for largest roof

Step 7

Now repeat pretty much the same process for the smaller square.

Make the triangle.

adding diagonals to the smaller roof

Step 8

Copy the triangle and add the roof ridge.

completing lines for smaller roof

Step 9

And clean up the lines.

cleaning lines for smaller roof

Step 10

For the longer section we'll add a roof with a different inclination. It should simply be a horizontal line that shoots right out of the corner.

You'll want to add a bit of volume to it so the roofs don't look paper thin. That's why I put two horizontal lines here. We'll also do it to the other roofs a bit later.

adding lower roof

Step 11

These new horizontal lines should extend a bit past their corner of the farmhouse. And from their corner there should go a 2:1 line, covering the whole side until it meets the big roof.

Notice the two small green lines added here. They'll be used to find the point where this new roof surface will intersect with the big roof. Right now they're simply marking the correct width.

finding intersection of lower roof and largest roof

Step 12

Now if we move the two green lines up (simultaneously) to where the right one meets the horizontal roof line, that would mean the left green line has to be at the point where this new surface meets the wall and the big roof.

Then you simply have to add another horizontal line from the intersection point.

drawing intersection of lower roof and largest roof

And then clean up the green lines at the corner of the big roof that we won't need anymore.

cleaning lines up

Step 13

Now we add the width to the rest of the roofs; they're a few parallel lines, separated from the original lines by just one pixel.

adding ledges to roofs

Step 14

To finish the most important volumes of the house, we'll need to add a small porch.

We can start with its footprint.

adding the porch

Step 15

If you copy the footprint up to the level of the base of the big roof then you'd almost have the roof for the porch—you just need to give it an inclination.

It'll be a gentler inclination than the one from the big roof. It's done simply as a 1:1 diagonal.

adding roof to the porch

This inclination actually corresponds to the inclination of the last roof we added. Basically, these are the only lines that can make symmetrical vertical triangles in isometric pixel art, without any jaggedness.

Step 16

Now make the whole roof of the porch align to this new inclination.

adding roof to the porch

Step 17

Add a pair of posts, holding up the roof.

finishing the porch

And you're done with the roof and most of the volumes of the farmhouse. Moving on…

3. Add Colors and Textures

Enough with the wireframes! Let's get some color in.

The farmhouse is black and white, even after it lands in Oz, but we don't need to stick to that. We'll give it some nice colors to keep it as a possibly recyclable asset in our library of isometric pixel art… which should be growing if you're following this series of tutorials.

Step 1

Lo-sat blue for the roof seemed a nice choice. Use slightly different shades for the different inclinations.

Also, add a bit of light (almost white) grey to the edges of the roofs.

filling roof colors

Step 2

I thought I'd give a light grey to the walls, with just a tiny bit of saturation (5%) of a greenish hue.

Add different shades; for some reason it seems logical to me to shade the left side lighter than the right one. At any rate, it's ideal to keep this constant so that the lighting looks consistent throughout your pixel art.

filling wall colors

Step 3

Let's make the walls reach the roofs—it looks much cleaner.

cleaning up walls

If you like, you could merge the roof and walls into one layer at this point.

Step 4

Add some wood color to the floor of the porch. And fill in the posts with the wall color.

adding porch floor color

Step 5

Now let's soften the dark lines in surface intersections, wherever you get "valley" corners. I like black outlines to exclusively denote freestanding volumes.

So these "valley" lines should be similar to their neighboring surface colors, darker than both of them, but not black.

softening dark intersection lines

Not all pixel artists do this, but I think it's a nice touch.

Step 6

Now the opposite of the "valley" corners would be the "peak" corners. And we'll want these to be highlights; lighter than the neighboring surface colors.

adding corner highlights

This is more universally applied in isometric pixel art.

Step 7

Now that we're done with coloring, let's add some texture. It's pretty easy for the walls, because they're just wood boards—parallel lines.

In a New Layer, you can start by drawing lines over the visible house footprint lines. You might want to use a contrasting color for now.

creating wood board pattern for walls

Step 8

Then Alt-nudge so that you get a whole bunch of these lines, going up on the walls, all regularly spaced.

creating wood board pattern for walls

Step 9

You won't successfully cover all your walls this way, so add the extra lines you may need.

creating wood board pattern for walls

Step 10

Now color the lines black, using the Paint Bucket Tool with contiguous checked off.

And then remove any part of them that's not over walls. You can do this by going into the walls layer and with the Magic Wand, selecting all of the wall colors (excluding outlines) and then going back to the texture layer, inversing the selection (Select > Inverse) and hitting Delete.

creating wood board pattern for walls

Step 11

Then lower the layer opacity to 10% or less. You can do this via a shortcut: while the Move Tool is active, press the number 1 (for 10%) or rapidly press 08 (for 8%), or try multiple opacities and see what you prefer.

shading wood board pattern for walls

Step 12

To finish the wall texture we may remove all parallel lines from the very corners of the walls and add some vertical lines, like corner frames.

editing wood texture on the wall corners

Step 13

On to the roof. Let's make a roof tile pattern.

You could make tiny L shapes, repeating along a 2:1 line. And then copy that down, aligning them like bricks on a wall.

Then replicate and replicate till you get a large patch.

making a roof tile

Step 14

Use this to cover the roofs.

adding roof tile

Step 15

And then repeat the process we did with the wall, leaving only texture on the surfaces we want to cover.

But let's exclude the back piece of roof because the angle is very different for that.

Then lower the opacity and merge down, if you like.

shading roof tile

Step 16

For the back piece of roof we'll do this very simple parallel 2:1 lines texture.

adding roof tile

Applied in low opacity.

shading roof tile

Step 17

The porch floor should have a wooden boards texture. Start with parallel lines along the length of the floor.

adding porch floor wood board texture

And then some extra pixels to make the separate boards.

finishing porch floor wood board texture

Step 18

Lower the opacity and apply.

shading porch floor wood board texture

The farmhouse textures are complete.

4. Add Finishing Details to the House

Let's add some nice windows and other details to the building. They'll be based on the ones from the farmhouse in the Wizard of Oz, but should still be reusable and very nice looking.

Step 1

The frontmost walls will have double windows. We can start those with a rectangle, centered on the wall, and in a New Layer.

It would be ideal to align this rectangle with the lines of the wall texture!

starting double window frame

Step 2

Now let's make a frame for the windows. It can be 2 px in width all around. Looks nice and chunky.

Let's also add a break, splitting the windows in half.

splitting double window

Step 3

Finally let's split the windows vertically as well, with more of the chunky window frame, and clean up the rest of the lines.

drawing the two separate windows

Step 4

Add some color. I'm giving the window frame a slightly lighter shade of the wall color.

adding window color

Remember you can modify colors with Hue/Saturation/Brightness (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation…). Try it if you haven't—it's easy and fun.

Step 5

Now let's soften those harsh black lines.

shading the rest of the window

And add an extra bit of dimension with some subtle highlights, a bit of shading on the window frame, and the glass effect of your choice.

adding details and extra shading on the rest of the window

Step 6

For the window on the other wall we can just Alt-nudge the first one, place it centered on the wall, and for the lighting to more appropriately match, lower its brightness by about 10% with Hue/Saturation/Brightness (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation…).

copying the double window

Step 7

We'll want more windows, but no longer double. So you can copy the existing ones and bring the ends together, getting rid of the break in-between. I made the window on the right a little bit shorter vertically, as suggested by the reference images I found.

turning the double window into singles

Step 8

Finish placing the windows by removing the parts that should be obscured by the structures.

finishing positioning the smaller windows

Step 9

Now let's get to that door. Those vertical lines were starting to get annoying.

Start with a frame, very much like the window ones, except there shouldn't be any frame at the bottom, parallel to the floor. Instead you may want to bring some of the porch floor up on that section just a little bit, to give the door a deeper look, a bit of extra dimension.

adding door frame

Step 10

Add some color and soften the corner lines.

working on door

Step 11

And now add some detail to the door, which is actually a screen door with some semi-circles decorating the inner frame corners.

Right now it's all done with one color.

working on door

Step 12

But it becomes a more understandable and more 3D-looking with some softer shading in some areas and a bit of highlighting.

Here I added a tan color to the parts that would be the actual screen door.

Screen doors are see-through, but I think we might risk making the door too convoluted if we tried adding some see-through detail.

finishing door

Step 13

Here I added a small square to help find a spot for the chimney.

adding a square for the chimney

Step 14

Here are the extra lines to define the chimney shape.

making the chimney shape

Step 15

Add some color.

adding color to chimney

Step 16

Highlight and clean lines.

shading the chimney

Step 17

And now let's add a brick texture, starting with parallel lines.

adding texture to the chimney

Step 18

And finishing with the individual bricks, give some of the bricks slightly different shades for that extra bit of detail.

finishing the chimney

And the farmhouse is done! Now we just have to land it somewhere. Witches beware!

5. Add an Environment

We're going to make a little scene around the farmhouse. So, um… why not a farm?

Step 1

Let's start with a background color. I landed on this because I thought it looked enough like soil and looked nice enough with the house colors.

adding ground color

Step 2

Let's give it a subtle dotted texture. It's pretty much a grid, so it shouldn't be too distracting if you keep the contrast low.

adding ground texture

Step 3

Let's make one more edit to the house before it's finally grounded. We'll add a base to it, which should look pretty much as if the porch is a step above the ground.

To get it started I drew a line along the footprint of the house, in a New Layer (underneath the house).

adding a step to the entire house

Step 4

Clone that line down a few pixels, and give it a wood-like color and some outlines.

adding a step to the entire house

Step 5

And as usual: shade, highlight…

adding a step to the entire house

Step 6

… and soften the line colors where the surfaces meet.

finishing shading on the step

Step 7

The house has landed, so let's bring a tree into the scene.

Or have you not yet done the tree tutorial?

importing tree

Step 8

It's not much of a farm if it doesn't have any crops. And to plant the crops we should first ready the soil.

Here's a simple way to make a tilled soil pattern.

making a tilled ground texture

Alt-nudge that into longer and longer lines and then into multiple lines, like this:

making a tilled ground texture

Step 9

And then place it against the corner of the scene. Crop whatever's out of the frame.

adding tilled ground texture

Step 10

As for the crops, let's make them carrots—or basically some generic, leafy, vegetable thing.

You can start making a bunch of small and slightly different leaves. Then color them green, flip them horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) and add shading.

And then put a group of leaves together and touch up the shading and dark lines to have one crop.

making plants

Ideally do a few slightly different crops, combining the multiple leaves, so you don't have the same one thing repeating over and over.

Step 11

Crops placed! Looks like a good year for carrot-thing.

adding crops

Let's just hope the weather doesn't turn.

Step 12

We'll add a fence between the crops and the house. Here's a pretty simple way to make one. This gets repetitive but: outline > coloring > highlighting > softening dark lines.

Oh! and also, make it easy to tile.

making a fence

Step 13

Around the rest of the house we'll have a picket fence. It can become overwhelmingly dark if we make each board of the fence freestanding, so instead we can just make them thin and bunch them close.

making a picket fence

Then to go around the house, make a flipped (and shaded a bit darker) version, plus a smaller, more ornate piece that will become the entrance.

finishing the picket fence

Step 14

We are so close, but let's add one more bit of unnecessary detail: a path to the house (in a contrasting color at first).

adding a walk path

Step 15

The path will simply have the same ground color but no texture.

Place the fences.

When placing the picket fence, make sure the gate lines up with the newly made path.

adding the fences

And that marks the end of the pixel work.

6. Add the Sepia Tone

Finally to give it that Wizard of Oz "back-in-Kansas" look, we'll add a couple of effects.

Step 1

Over the drawing, in a New Layer, fill in with a dark, low-sat, tan color, covering the entirety of the illustration.

picking a color to apply to scene

Step 2

Change the layer Blend Mode to Color.

changing blending mode for the layer

Step 3

And your graphic should look like this:

applying the sepia layer

You can easily modify your sepia with Hue/Saturation/Brightness (Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation…).

Step 4

And why stop there?

You can add an iris effect with a black radial gradient and rounded corners to make it really presentable and a bit more old-timey.

Gradients are usually a no-no in pixel art, but as part of presentation it should be cool.

farmhouse scene completed

For a smoother look I enlarged the illustration 2x before applying the radial gradient and the rounded corner crop.

There's No Place Like Home!

It took a bit of heart, brains and courage, but we did it! It's a pretty nice postcard type of pixel art illustration, commemorating a really great piece of cinema.

I hope this was enjoyable!

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