Sunset over a desert

Another project for which the inspiration came from the internet. I saw somewhere a similar image and I thought it would be great exercise to draw one of my own. Here you will find a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw an image like this in Affinity Designer.

Step 1: The background

I typically begin with drawing a background. Sometimes I might change it’s colors later in the process though. This is the final version for this setup.

To create this background you have to draw a rectangle and then use the Gradient Tool

Gradient tool icon

Click on top of the rectangle, then bottom. Gradient will be crated with default colors. With gradient tool still active, click on top dot and in the color panel type:

And for the bottom dot make sure the color is set to:

Step 2: Details in the background

Using the pen tool draw 3 objects in those wavy shapes. The colors I used, starting from the top most wavy shape, are:

  • R239 G126 B40
  • R239 G184 B40
  • R239 G226 B40

Each time Noise parameter is set to 35%

Draw some clouds. Start with few circles and when you’re happy select all of them and use Add function.

The Add function

Create several copies of your clouds. Color them white and set the layer opacity to 40%.

Next draw a very bright ellipse (circle). With the sun layer active go to Layer -> Layer Effects… menu.

Activate Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 4,3px.

Activate Outer Glow and set the Blend mode to Screen, Opacity to 100%, Radius to 1024px, Intensity to 63% and color to R255 G226 B0.

This will give your sun a nice glow.

Step 3: Start dding mountains

Using the Pen Tool draw two mountains. One on the left, faded, far away. The second on on the right, darker, closer to the viewer. Colors I used for the mountain on the left are R25 G0 B48. For the mountain on the right its R119 G0 B3.

Step 4: Actual desert

To draw the desert you will use the Pen Tool again. Similarly to how you drew wavy shapes in the sky draw them now at the ground level. I drew three but you can draw more if you wish of course.

The colors used (from the lightest to the darkest):

  • R176 G44 B40
  • R153 G35 B33
  • R62 G9 B19

Step 5: Adding details

We need some details to finalize our design. I mean vegetation. Drawing a cactus is easy but a bit time consuming. Using the Pen Tool (I know, everything is with pen tool right? crazy) draw an outline of a cactus. Using Rounded Rectangle Tool draw small rectangles and copy them with random position and rotation around your cactus. This will give your plant some spikes 😉

Create few plants like that and put them in different locations around your drawing. Make sure to change colors so they fit nicely with the surroundings. Final image should look similar to this:


If you enjoyed this tutorial please consider subscribing to my blog. There will be more tutorials on Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer coming in the future.


Published by jedrzej

Hi, I’m Jędrzej. I am a hobbyist photographer and graphic designer, although during “bushiness day” I work as an engineer in the aviation industry. My adventure with photography started in the 90's and had never stopped. This site is the hub of my creative work.

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