This image was originally a simple sketch on paper. The idea to do a complete color project came later. The inspiration came from Lord of the Ring and everything around that.
I did a concept sketch and painted in Photoshop over it. I used few references of castles and cathedrals to give me some ideas. I did a 3d modeling of a castle to help me with perspective and lighting. This image background scenery was one of my first exploration related to matte painting and matte art and all CG environment world done in 2002.
More information about the artist: Frederic St-Arnaud (aka starno) is a visual effect artist with 12 years of experience, focusing on high-end photo-realistic digital matte painting (also known as matte art or digimatte), set extension and concept art in the film industry.
St-Arnaud has contributed to more than 25 feature films, dozens of commercials for television and a few TV series. His film credits include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Death Race, Babel, Silent Hill, Sin City, Sky captain and the world of tomorrow, Once upon a time in Mexico, Spy kids 2 & 3, The Golden Compass which won the best visual effects Academy Awards in 2008 and more.
Official website: [link]