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Tips and Tricks to Using Photoshop Generative Fill to Create Level Design and Environment Art Ideas

Category: Environment Art, Level Design
March 26, 2024

Generative Fill is an AI image creation tool in Photoshop that can be put to great use for ideas. It can create additional visual information inside or outside the image.

Find an image: can be a photo, concept art, completed work you've done or even half-finished projects and blockouts. Then run Generative Fill and watch ideas roll in.

In this tutorial you will learn how to use Photoshop's Generative Fill and all the tricks and tips to begin generating more ideas...

Video Tutorial

Tips/Tricks #1: Expanding the Environment

In this first tip is to use a photo or a screenshot you have and expand on it with additional visual information beyond the current point of view.

The Steps:

  • Open an image
  • Expand your Canvas so you have more space (Image > Canvas)
  • Using Rectangular Marquee Tool, make a selection around the image (leave a bit of a border outside the selection)
  • Invert the selection (Ctrl+Shift+I)
  • Click Generative Fill and Generate

You have an option to Generate with or without a text prompt:

  • Without Text Prompt: it will use the information within the image and generate visual information outside of the selection that is very similar to the image
  • With Text Prompt: it will use the information within the image and generate visual information outside of the selection that is very similar to the image BUT also add visual elements defined in the text prompt

Original image I took during a road trip:

Generative Fill without text prompt:

Generative Fill with text prompt 'Train':

Once you've generated some variations you can generate again by clicking Generate in the Properties panel:

Further, you can modify your text in the prompt box and click Generate to create new variations with the revised text:

You don't have to use photograph to use Generative Fill with. You can use work-in-progress work, blockouts or even final screenshots.

Here are some examples. The white outline is the original boundaries of the screenshot:

Tips/Tricks #2: Adding Environmental Elements and Props

Second tip is ability to add environmental elements and props into an existing image.

The Steps:

  • Make a selection in the image (use Rectangular, Elliptical or Lasso Selection Tools)
  • Enter a text prompt what you want to add
  • Generate

If you need more variations within the selection, press Generate again in the Properties panel.

Here is a screenshot of work-in-progress I did but without any enviornment around it. It was just a house created in Hammer Source.

I then used Generative Fill and added various elements into the screenshot to create a possible idea for a level:

Remove objects: Select the object you want to remove, then generate without a prompt and watch it disappear. 

Tips/Tricks #3: Generating Full Environments

Third tip is ability to generate full background environments. This works best when you have an element within the photo or screenshot that you can easily make a selection around to isolate.

The Steps:

  • Make a selection in an element in the image you want to keep (use Rectangular, Elliptical or Lasso Selection Tools)
  • Invert the selection (Ctrl+Shift+I)
  • Enter a text prompt for what background you want to add
  • Generate

Here is a work-in-progress of floating cubes in UE5:

Making a selection around the cubes, inverting the selection and typing in ‘sunny sandy beach' into the text prompt:

This is an amazing way to see your work-in-progress blockouts in different themed environments and see if that's the visual direction you may want to go in.

Preproduction Blueprint

I wrote a book that goes through on how to generate ideas and plan out your level designs and environment art projects so you finish what you start. It has over 100+ reviews at 4.5+ stars. Get the book here.


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About World of Level Design

My name is AlexG. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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