photoshop creative

12 must-read tips for digital painting

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
September 10, 2014

Tips and techniques you never even considered before, to help you master painting with Photoshop!

Digital painting is something that all Photoshop users would love to master, as it uses techniques that we can all embrace no matter the picture. Whilst it looks like one of the most complicated things to do on the program though, it’s not impossible, as these 12 helpful tips will show you!

1. Start with a sketch

Draft out your idea, considering composition, possible colours and lighting as you go. It’s important to sketch until you’re satisfied, as a strong sketch will likely make for a strong outcome.

2. Block in elements

Basic round brushes are ideal for blocking in shapes and areas of colour. Consider the light source as you work and apply tone accordingly. Use the Colour Picker often to grab colours and blend as you go by hitting Opt/Akt

3. Blend with Smudge

Make quick and easy work of blending with the Smudge tool. Custom brushes or basic round brushes can be used for this. Alter the settings of the brushes to enhance the strength of your preference.

4. Layer it up

Create a new layer for each additional element used (namely skin, hair and jewellery). This separation will enable you to make changes to areas that overlap other layers without disturbing them.

5. Consider custom brushes

Create custom brushes to add unique textures to your image. Ideas for this are limitless; a multi-lined brush can make delicate locks of hair in a single stroke, and dotted brushes can add texture to skin.

6. Harness your lighting

Used carefully, the Lighting Effects filter under Render enables you to assign a number of lights. From Spotlights to Soft Omni lighting, the properties of the light source are adaptable to take into account the texture of the subject.

7. Oil painting

In Photoshop CS6, the Oil Painting filter recreates a painterly style using strokes of paint. It provides full control over the direction and size of these.

8. Blur

Get creative with the range of blur filters that can soften the background or foreground of a painting. Apply the filters to be able to mask away the effect.

9. Filter Gallery

Layer up filters inside the Filter Gallery for even further artistic flair. For instance, combine texture filters with the Sketch options.

10. Liquify filters

You can adjust the shape of facial features in a portrait image by using the Liquify filter and its Forward Warp tool. A bigger brush and lower Pressure setting will make sure that any changes won’t be instantly recognisable.

11. Work from large to small

As you’re working, avoid adding too much detail early on. Instead, focus on getting the shapes and colours, working from the largest shape, gradually down into the details.

12. Dodge and burn

The Dodge and Burn tools can add dramatic shadows and highlights. Be sure to use these tools in moderation and set the Exposure to low to get the desired effect gradually.

  • Before starting digital painting I guess I need to learn the sketching first, right? I have the idea about the photoshop tools already so need to be good in imagination as well as in sketching that imagination.

  • Ddraws

    Don’t apply all these filters / FX on your paintings / drawings (especially the oil one, looks very fake). You shouldn’t depend on photoshop’s (or any other program’s) extensive library of effects and filters to make your work “good” (oh, and don’t use doge / burn…or abuse the blur tool). Don’t have digital dependence, it never looks or does any good for you or your paintings. If you want to paint digitally (or any other medium) you need the foundations. Other than tips 1 and 2 this post does not help at all.

  • Good work. Actually nice. Digital drawing increasing day by day.

  • Wow so fantastic work man, images looks so real. Here every points are clear to understand. Very detailed and clear way to described here. We know professionals use Photoshop for its unique feature, so by this way lots of people dont know how to use Photoshop, this post can be very ideal for the beginners. Very organized work, great job.

  • Very informative article. It’s very helpful article about Digital painting. Thanks for sharing your post.Looking forward to read more.

  • Many many thanks for sharing with us.

  • Very informative article. Here every points are clear to understand. Very detailed and clear way to described here. It’s very helpful article about Digital painting. We know professionals use Photoshop for its unique feature. But before starting digital painting I guess one need to learn the sketching first. Thanks for sharing your post. Looking forward to read more.

  • Great post thanks for share this amazing and informative post