From VNDev Wiki

Backgrounds, often abbreviated as 'BGs', are the visual representation of a scene's setting, specifically referring to the set, stage, and any props. For information about graphics that contain both characters and background elements, see Event CG.

Types of Backgrounds


Single or multiple colors can be used as the background of a visual novels. They're often used as stand-ins for scenes that do not have their own sets or backgrounds.

This is not to be confused with transition effects like the Fade, which exists and only lasts until the next background is displayed.

Flat Image

Flat image backgrounds are composed of a single image making up the entirety of the background and set.


Composite backgrounds, or layered backgrounds, are composed of multiple flat images arranged to set a scene and are often accompanied by a 3D Camera to illustrate depth and movement. Components in these backgrounds may be animated or set at different depths for visual effects.

3D Sets

3D sets are modelled and live-rendered sets that the player's perspective is set in at play back. Players may be able to navigate these 3D spaces, but frequently the 3D Camera is moved about the scene to capture different shots, perspectives and settings.

This is not to be confused with a pre-rendered 3D background, which is usually a flat image or part of a component of a composite background.

Common Production Methods


Illustrated backgrounds are one of the most common examples of backgrounds used in visual novels. Digital illustration with tools such as Clip Studio Paint & Adobe Photoshop are the most common with traditional art mediums such as paint, charcoal, etc are rare, and if employed are often digital duplications replicating the style.

Set Compositing

Set compositing is used in more modern visual novels, or visual novel engines that employ depth and layering of images to produce the illusion of depth. These backgrounds, or more appropriately sets, are composed up of many individual elements as separate objects which may or may not move, or may or may not render overtop of characters on screen.

This technique is regularly employed with animated sets, layering animated sections of the background overtop of otherwise static images, and is used in establishing foreground elements that display overtop of characters. Sets often employ some type of 3D Camera, or simulate the effects of a 3D camera, to aid in the illusion of depth.

Pre-Recorded Video & Animations

In instances of backgrounds with many moving elements, or backgrounds that frequently animate, a pre-recorded video or animation may be used in place of a composited piece or entire live-rendered background set. This method is often used in producing effects that may be too resource intensive to have rendered live by an end-user's hardware, or for producing visual effects in VFX software, like Adobe After Effects, that visual novel engines may not be able to easily create during play.


Photographs have seen their way into visual novel backgrounds. Some visual novels use raw photographs, while many others will modify the original photographs from lightly editing for color and tone, to applying image filters, or completely painting over the original photograph. A wide variety of styles and effects can be produced using a combination of photography and digital editing techniques. Despite being seen as a low budget or low effort method to produce backgrounds, it varies widely in cost and quality.

Modelled & 3D Pre-Rendered Sets

3D modelling, texturing and lighting software, like Blender or Maya, have been employed in creating visual novel backgrounds or set components. For visual novel engines incapable of rendering 3D models, pre-rendered backgrounds from 3D applications have been used. Pre-rendered 3D sets can produce a wide variety of backgrounds when combined with the right technology and techniques. Shaders, post-processing techniques, and having an illustrator touch up 3D renders by hand can drastically change how a single set looks between renders.

Live-Rendered Scenes

Many modern game engines, like Unity3D and Unreal, are capable of rendering scenes in both 2D and 3D at the time of play back. This is very common in visual novel hybrids that also have 3D elements and gameplay in them. This method of background production uses 3D models with textures, arranged in a digital scene and then fed back to the player by an in-engine 3D Camera that captures the perspective.

When combined with 3D Characters, this production method is often the most flexible method once set up, allowing the 3D Camera, characters, props, and set be arranged and posed to produce an enormous range of shots, views and perspective.