Mike Winkelmann (Beeple) created this image of a man in a surreal landscape with a lightbulb floating in the air..

How-To: Beeple’s Abstract Landscape

By Mike Winkelmann

You’ve probably come across Mike Winkelmann, AKA Beeple. Not only has he made and posted imagery every day for more than 10 years, but he often gives away what he makes. He does all this while maintaining a full client roster. Here, Adobe Create shares Beeple’s first-person explanation of the process behind one image.

Click the image above to watch Beeple's how-to.


The first thing is deciding what to create. I look through sites like Pinterest and Behance to get the ideas flowing a bit. I usually don’t have a super decided-on idea beforehand, but I find it helps to have some sort of direction, even if it’s pretty vague.


I decide to make an abstract landscape and go to Adobe Stock for 3D models of a lightbulb and a few rocks and trees so I don’t have to start from scratch.

I also find some HDRI images and materials to help build out the scene. HDRI images are basically photographs that have a bit more lighting information that can be used to light your scene. The materials are a set of different textures set up for use in 3D so that things look more realistic; for instance, if you have metal it will be shiny, or if you have a piece of rock it will look bumpy to mimic the natural texture.

After I license the assets in Adobe Stock, they automatically show up in my library in Adobe Dimension CC.


Adobe Dimension is organized similarly to other 3D programs. There’s a viewport, which is basically the 3D space you’ll work in, a section with materials you can add to your objects, an object manager that shows all of the objects in your scene, and a property section where you can change any of the properties of those objects. There’s also the library of Creative Cloud assets with models and other items, which you can drag into the scene.

I start placing things to compose a shot from the assets, testing out lighting options and checking the render preview to see how it’s looking.


Once I’m happy with the scene, I’m ready to render. I like bringing renders into Adobe Photoshop CC to help give the final touches on the piece. In this case, I render with an alpha channel so I can easily replace the sky in Photoshop. Rendering takes a couple minutes because it has to calculate all of the lighting, so maybe go grab a coffee and when you come back you’ll be ready to go.


I open the layered file in Photoshop and add fog to the scene, then go to Adobe Stock to find a good-looking sky and drop it into the Photoshop file. I add a silhouette of a person and do some final little touchups and color correction, and the piece is done.

August 23, 2018