Everyone will have a different way of working on digital art, and far from me the idea to actually teach anyone. This will not be a tutorial. However, here, I will share some of my personal techniques and the best tips for digital painting I have learned over the years practicing digital art. If you are already an adept you won’t learn much but you might relate to some of the tips. If you are a beginner, read on and know what you are getting into!
When I am not hunched over a canvas with paint all over my hands, I am in front of Photoshop working on a digital painting. I find it so easy to create with this software that I almost enjoy working with it more than I do with actual paint brushes. Well, let’s just say that it’s a shame traditional painting doesn’t have a CTRL-Z.
1 – Graphic Tablet: a holy tool
I am assuming anyone a bit serious about digital art will have a graphic tablet. This is the one and only tool to get. You can try drawing with your mouse but you won’t get far. Trust me, I’ve tried. No need to go and spend thousands though. I have had my tablet for almost 10 years now and it still works like a charm. My dog even completely chewed the pen but it still works! A small and basic tablet is enough to get started.
Remember: the tool does not make the artist. This is one of the best tip I can give you.
2 – Brushes will save your soul
Brushes give you an edge. They make your painting richer. They allow you to get effects you could never get otherwise. Or at least not without spending hours at it. I love experimenting with different kind of brushes and mixing them all together. I would say they are the second best tool to get and you can find tons of free brushes online with a simple google search.
In the picture below, I achieve that texture background effect with brushes. All the splatters and the geometrical forms were done the same way as well.
3 – Layers are life
Layer as much as you can. It will save you when you want to change small details without redoing everything. They are also good for experiments. Not sure if that color will work? Create a new layer and see.
As you can see in the upper picture I always create one layer for the line art, one for the animal I am painting, one for the background, and then a bunch more for splatters, brush effects, and experiments.
4 – CTRL-Z is the hand of God
Don’t like that last stroke? CTRL-Z. Don’t like that color you just added? CTRL-Z. Wrong brush? CTRL-Z.
It must seriously be the most used combination on my keyboard. Any mistake can be corrected. Hence why I love digital painting so much.
5 – Adjustments layers, for more magic
Adjustments layers allow you to play with contrast, saturation, color gradient, and much more. It is a magical tool. Making little changes to your work is usually a lot easier with those.
I use adjustments layers to enhance the contrast of my painting if I think it is lacking. If I wonder what it would look like with a different color, I use the “colorize” button in the “hue/saturation” layer.
I would say that those are the five commandments to live by. If you have some more photoshop top tips, share them in the comments!