Drawing Fantasy Landscapes: Floating Island Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


Imagine this: you're drawing a world where the laws of gravity don't apply, where landscapes float freely in the sky. Sounds like an exciting challenge, right? Well, that's exactly what we're going to dive into today. In this guide, we'll walk through the steps on "how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island". So, grab your tools, and let's get started!

What is a Floating Island?

A floating island, in the context of a fantasy landscape, is a piece of land that—defying all laws of physics—floats in the mid-air instead of being anchored to the ground. It's a common element in fantasy art and literature, creating a dream-like, otherworldly scene that sparks curiosity and wonder.

When you're drawing a floating island, you're not just sketching a chunk of land in the sky. You're creating a microcosm of its own, complete with buildings, trees, water bodies, or even miniature mountains. Here's a brief look at what it typically includes:

  • Landmass: This is the main body of the island. It can be of any shape and size you imagine.
  • Structures: From simple huts to towering castles, your floating island can host a range of architectural marvels.
  • Vegetation: Trees, plants, and flowers add life to your floating island. They also provide great opportunities for playing with color and texture.
  • Water bodies: Some floating islands feature rivers or waterfalls cascading into the sky, adding a touch of surreal beauty.
  • Extra elements: You can go wild here. Think floating rocks orbiting the island, a cloud caught on a tree, or even a rainbow arching from one island to another!

Now that we've covered what a floating island is, we'll take a look at the tools you'll need to bring your own unique island to life. Stay tuned as we continue our journey on how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island.

Tools You Will Need

Before we dive into the drawing process, let's ensure we have the right tools at hand. Here's a quick checklist:

  • Pencil: A standard HB pencil is a good starting point for sketching the basic outlines.
  • Eraser: Mistakes happen, and that's okay! An eraser helps clean up any unwanted lines or marks.
  • Sharpener: Keep your pencil tips sharp for precision and detail.
  • Paper: Any paper will do, but a thicker sketchpad can handle more erasing and shading.
  • Colored Pencils or Markers: These will bring your fantasy landscape to life with vibrant hues.
  • Fineliners: These are optional but can help add detailed and darker lines.

Remember, you don't need the most expensive art supplies to create a beautiful piece of work. It's all about how you use what you have. So, grab your tools, and let's get ready to explore "how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island"!

How to Draw the Base of Your Island

Now that we have our tools ready, let's start with the foundation of our floating island. Drawing the base is the first step in creating your fantasy landscape. So, where do we start?

  1. Shape: Think of the general shape of your island. Is it round, oval, jagged, or something else? Sketch this shape lightly with your pencil.
  2. Size: Decide on the size of your floating island. Big enough to host a castle or small enough for a humble hut? The size will influence the rest of your drawing.
  3. Angle: The perspective from which you view your island adds depth to your drawing. Is it from above, below, or the side? Draw accordingly.
  4. Surface: Your island's surface could be smooth, rocky, or grassy. Use different pencil strokes to represent these textures.

Remember, there's no right or wrong here. It's your fantasy landscape, after all. So, let your imagination guide you as you sketch the base of your floating island. Stay tuned for the next steps on "how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island".

How to Add Details to Your Island

Alright, now that we have a solid base for our floating island, it's time to sprinkle some magic on it. Adding details can truly transform your island from a mere sketch into a vibrant piece of a fantasy landscape. So, what sort of details should we add? Let's explore.

  1. Cliffs and Rocks: Adding cliffs and rocks can give your island a rugged, natural look. Use your pencil to draw jagged lines and shading to represent these elements.
  2. Waterfalls: How about a waterfall cascading off the edge of your island? Draw lines that flow from the island's edge downwards, and add some splash at the bottom to give it a realistic feel.
  3. Paths and Trails: A winding path or trail can lead the viewer's eye around your island. It can start from a building, go around trees, and disappear into a forest.
  4. Rivers or Lakes: A body of water can provide a nice contrast to the land. You can draw a circular or wavy shape and fill it with horizontal lines to represent water.

Adding details is a game-changer in the process of "how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island". It's not just about the big picture, but the little things that make your island unique and fantastical. So, go ahead and add your personal touch to your island!

How to Draw Buildings and Structures

With your island now popping with exciting details, we move on to the next step: adding buildings and structures. This is where your floating island starts to look inhabited, and the fantasy landscape starts to come alive. Ready to give it a shot?

  1. Start With Basic Shapes: Buildings can be complex, but they all start with simple shapes. Squares, rectangles, and triangles can be the base for homes, while cylinders can make up towers or silos.
  2. Add Features: Once you have your basic shapes, it's time to add features like windows, doors, and roofs. Don't forget details like staircases, chimneys, and balconies!
  3. Think About Perspective: The way you draw your structures can create a sense of depth on your island. If a building is closer to the viewer, draw it larger; if it is far away, draw it smaller.
  4. Consider the Style: Finally, think about the style of your buildings. Are they medieval castles, modern homes, or something else? The style can add a lot to the overall feel of your fantasy landscape.

Remember, there's no right or wrong in the realm of fantasy. The key to learning how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island is all about letting your imagination run wild. So, don't be afraid to experiment with different structures and architectural styles!

How to Draw Trees and Plants

Now that your buildings are standing tall and proud, let's breathe some life into your island by adding trees and plants. Remember, your island is in a fantasy world—so feel free to step outside the box and create your own unique flora!

  1. Start with Basic Shapes: Just like buildings, trees and plants start as simple shapes. Circles or ovals can represent the canopy of a tree, while lines can indicate the trunk. If you're drawing flowers, consider using shapes like circles for the center and teardrops for the petals.
  2. Create Texture: Trees and plants aren't smooth. Use short, curved lines to show the texture of the bark on a tree or the veins in a leaf. This adds a touch of realism to your fantasy landscape.
  3. Add Variety: To make your island more interesting, vary the types of trees and plants you draw. Some could be tall and thin while others might be short and bushy. Remember, this is your fantasy world—you're in charge!
  4. Consider Placement: When you're figuring out where to put your trees and plants, think about how they might naturally grow. Would a certain type of tree grow near the water, or up on a hill? Thinking about these details can help make your fantasy landscape more believable.

By adding trees and plants, you're one step closer to mastering how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island. Remember, practice makes perfect—so don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out exactly as you envisioned. Keep drawing, and you'll see progress over time!

How to Draw the Background

With the floating island, buildings, and plants in place, it's time to create a captivating backdrop for your fantasy landscape. The background sets the mood of your piece and enhances the overall visual appeal.

  1. Identify Your Horizon: The first step in creating your background is to draw the horizon line. This line represents the point where the sky meets the land or sea in the distance. It could be straight, or slightly curved for a more panoramic feel.
  2. Sketch the Sky: The sky is an integral part of how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island. Clouds, sun, moon, stars, or even a rainbow—choose elements that match the mood you want to convey. Remember, in a fantasy landscape, your sky can be any color you want—not just blue!
  3. Add Depth with Distant Landscapes or Objects: You can hint at a whole world beyond your island by adding far-off mountains, a distant shoreline, or other floating islands. These should be less detailed and lighter than foreground elements to create a sense of depth.
  4. Finalize with Weather Elements: To add the final touch to your background, consider including weather elements. Is it a sunny, bright day or a stormy, windy evening? This can be shown through elements like rain, snow, wind marks, or even a brilliant sunset.

Voila! Your background is complete. But remember, backgrounds in fantasy drawings are not just filler, they can tell a story too. So, let your imagination run wild and create a background that enhances your floating island and makes your fantasy landscape truly magical.

How to Add Color and Shading

After successfully sketching your fantasy landscape with a floating island, the next step is to bring it to life with color and shading. This process adds depth, texture, and a touch of realism to your fantasy world.

  1. Select Your Medium: The first choice to make is the medium you want to use for color. Will it be colored pencils, markers, watercolor, or digital? Each medium has its unique feel and requires different techniques, so choose one that you're comfortable with and fits your vision.
  2. Start Coloring: Begin by coloring the main elements of your drawing — the island, the buildings, the trees. Be creative here. In a fantasy world, a tree can be purple, and the sky can be orange! The key is consistency, so if you decide on a green sky, make sure it's green throughout.
  3. Shading: Shading is crucial when learning how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island as it adds depth to your drawing. Look at where your light source is and shade accordingly. The side furthest from the light will be darkest, while the side closest will be lightest.
  4. Highlights: Adding highlights where the light hits your objects can make your drawing pop. Use a lighter color or leave areas white to create this effect.

Remember, the magic of fantasy art is in its freedom. The colors you choose can set the mood of your landscape — bright and cheerful, dark and mysterious, or anything in between. So, don't hold back. Experiment, play around, and most importantly, have fun!

Tips for Drawing Floating Islands

Now that you're familiar with how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island, let's deepen your skills with a few handy tips.

  • Play with Perspective: Floating islands can be viewed from various angles — straight on, from below, or even from above. Each perspective will give your island a different feel, so don't be afraid to experiment with this.
  • Think in 3D: While you're drawing on a 2D surface, your aim is to create a 3D effect. This will involve imagining your island from all sides. Adding details like cliffs, caves, or overhangs can give your island more depth.
  • Consider Gravity: Even though your island is floating, it's important to remember gravity. Trees and buildings should be upright unless there's a reason in your story for them not to be. And remember, things can fall off the edge!
  • Size Matters: The size of your island will affect what you can put on it. A small island might only have room for a single house or tree, while a larger one could hold an entire city or forest.

Remember, the beauty of drawing fantasy landscapes is that there are no hard and fast rules. Use these tips as guidelines, but don't be afraid to break them if your story requires it. After all, it's your world, and you get to decide what happens in it!

Examples of Floating Island Drawings

While learning how to draw a fantasy landscape with a floating island, it's always helpful to observe the work of others for inspiration. Here are some examples of floating island drawings to get your creative juices flowing:

  • The Lone Tree Island: This is a simple drawing of a small floating island with a single tree. The focus is on the isolation of the island, giving it a serene and peaceful vibe. It's a great starting point if you're new to drawing fantasy landscapes.
  • The City Island: An island floating in the sky, housing an entire city. The numerous buildings, bridges and roads provide a wealth of detail and complexity, offering a glimpse into a bustling society that lives above the clouds.
  • The Forest Island: This floating island is covered in dense forest. The variety of trees and plants offers a challenge in texture and detail. It's a perfect example if you want to explore drawing more natural elements in your fantasy landscapes.
  • The Mountain Island: Here, the island itself is a towering mountain, complete with snow-capped peaks. Drawing this would require a good understanding of rock formations and perspective, making it a great choice for more advanced artists.

These examples should provide a good starting point for your own floating island drawings. Remember, the key is to observe, learn, and then let your imagination take over. Who knows? You might just create the next iconic fantasy landscape!

If you enjoyed this blog post on drawing fantasy landscapes and want to learn more about world-building, check out Kit Buss's workshop, 'Visual Development for Fantasy World-Building.' This workshop will provide you with insights, techniques, and inspiration for creating incredible and immersive fantasy worlds for your projects.