As a followup to the Sketchup for Backgrounds mini-series, I want to explain the concept of a 'paint-over'. This is not an excuse to skip learning to draw, but rather a shortcut for experienced painters. Before digital art was possible, commercial artists have done plenty of tracing in their work - and it was totally acceptable. This was not because the artists weren't very good at drawing - it was merely a time saver which allowed them to meet their deadlines. Using a 3D render (from sketchup or elsewhere) is the same concept -- it saves time for the artist. Again, it's not a pass which allows you to skip learning perspective drawing. Update: In response to some of the comments about the Sketchup series, I've created a quick video which will hopefully clear up the confusion. View it here.
This wraps up the sketchup mini-series by putting the scene together and exporting a render. I find this stage extremely fun, because all of the hard work is complete. Now all that remains is arranging your houses - very much like building a toy city out of pre-painted models.
This continues the mini-series by looking at the Sketchup 'texturing' process. This is when you apply color and surfaces to the blank white 3D models, making them look much more convincing. If you've never worked with a texture in 3D before this might seem abstract, but the knowledge is very useful if you plan to enter the game industry.
Adding a cityscape in the background of an illustration really ups the 'wow factor', but can be an unacceptable amount of extra labor. A little 3D can change all of that. This video series uses Google Sketchup as a tool to speed up the process of creating a detailed background. Eventually you'll paint over the 3D render, but it serves as a fantastic 'under-drawing'. Note: This three part series won't show you every button to press in sketchup, but instead - a compelling reason to figure them out.