When faced with a new project (a book, graphic novel, animation, or game), the first thing you must do is read the manuscript, and begin to research the world you are about to illustrate. Even if the world never existed, or no longer exists, researching similar worlds will help you to develope believable backgrounds and props.
For a recent project, I needed to recreate ancient Rome and Pompeii. Through museum visits, magazines, books, and researching on location in Italy, I was able to recreate a series of buildings, rooms and various props to make my world more believable.
The following images are some of the background images I created for an ongoing project about ancient Rome.