photoshop creative

10 top tips for digital painting!

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 17, 2014

Get started as a painter with these quick and easy tips…

1. Start from scratch

Starting a new painting is easiest with a solid plan and a sketch to work from. Before beginning, take some time to think about the composition and overall direction. Sketching a series of quick thumbnails could be helpful in generating ideas. Then, work out the kinks in a sketch to give you a clear starting point.

2. Express with colour

Colour is a fundamental part of painting, and is especially important in conveying mood and creating a sense of balance. Focus can also be drawn to desired areas using colours that are vivid, or in contrast to the surrounding colour. For example, warm colours on a cool background stand out because of contrast.

3. Blend your brushwork

Blend modes such as Overlay and Vivid Light are effective in producing rich colour and lighting Multiply and Colour Burn are great for darker areas such as shadows. Soft Light is great for adding subtle colour tinting.

4. Smudging genius!

The Smudge tool works in a similar way to the Brush, however instead of adding colour, the Smudge tool has the ability to push or pull existing colours around. Custom brush tips can also be used in conjunction with the Smudge tool to create a magnificent method for blending colours together.

5. Sly selections

Selections can be made in a nimber of ways, such as with the Marquee, Lasso, Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools. For creating smooth lines in a painting use the Pen tool to draw and apply strokes to its path (Photoshop CS and CC versions only).

6. Adapt photos

To incorporate a photograph into a painting, it’s important that the photo and painting are similar in value, colour and lighting. The sliders in Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) are very helpful in controlling values, and the Hue/Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) works wonders with colour. For the light source, a little over-painting on a new Normal layer can fix lighting quickly.

7. Clip layers

Clipping masks are wonderful. On a new layer, fill the element shape with colour. Make a new layer, then Opt/Alt-click on the line between these two layers to create a clipping mask. Anything on the topmost layer will remain confined to the boundaries of the base.

8. The power of light

Interesting lighting can make all the difference regarding impression and mood. For instance, lighting from below often indicates mystery. Colour light sources can brighten things up and all can be tested on new layers.

9. Texture and materials

Realistic texture can be easily created with patterns or custom brushes. Shiny elements such as metal or moisture will reflect surrounding olour the most, so use the Eyedropper tool to gather colour from the object’s environment. The more reflective the surface, the more environmental colour will impact it.

10. Customise a brush

Settings can be altered for how a brush tip behaves, or you can create your own custom brushes from scratch. Use the Lasso tool to select the area of an image to be turned into a brush tip. Go to Edit>Define Brush From Selection and name your new brush. Find it in the Brush Preset palette, then adjust the settings as you desire.