Digital Painting and Tutorials

I’ve been continuing to practice with my illustration often with frustrating results. So I have decided to turn to those limitless resources I was talking about in my previous post! I found it surprising how easy it was to find quality video tutorials after some cursory Googling. Before I landed on two of the tutorials I used for the studies I’ll be posting here I wanted to share my early attempts in each area.

Some things to note about them beforehand. I feel pretty confident in my understanding of the power of value and color theory. Maybe not confident enough to say that I could easily paint without reference, but after all the beginner courses in art and design I took through high school and college I felt I had built a strong understanding. Both these studies were based off this confidence that I did not have to start from scratch.



WRONG! Both of these I felt like I spent an embarrassing amount of time to get as far as I did and the results were still far from satisfactory. Even considering the stylized look they also just feel wrong. Possibly because they occupy the area between realism and abstraction that makes them feel awkward, but even more so because I do not have a strong enough understanding of the fundamentals. At least, I now feel that after following tutorials on both subjects and coming up with these results:

Using the cloud tutorial by Jereme Peabody (


Using the face tutorial by Istebrak on YouTube ( – Really want to mention how great this one is with the included refresher into color theory when focusing on realism.


Both took far less time and they look so much better! So I guess its back to basics, but there were a few (some Photoshop specific) extra things I learned that may have a large impact on future work:

  1. Planning the palette ahead of time works wonders. I feel it is largely because of the restriction it can place on the work. Similar to what I was always taught about design: working within strict guidelines often produces some of the most interesting and successful work.
  2. Work with a soft brush and very light strokes for a very long time! Or at least until you are sure its time to move on to the next layer of detail. This is an aspect similar to what I have learned about 3D modeling. Start with simple shapes and work your way in slowly to the fine detail.
  3. Really consider how light reacts on surfaces and the results of the lights and shadows blending with different hues. This is one I really should remember more from my painting courses in college but keeping this in mind really helped improve the overall quality.

In any case it is obviously the practice that is really important!



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