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Blog . Digital Painting in Adobe Photoshop

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Digital Painting in Adobe Photoshop

09/05/13  |  Posted by Vanesa Jeric  |  Posted in Digital Creativity

Adobe Photoshop is an important tool for many different kinds of artists. Photoshop is no exception to the saying, "practice makes perfect," playing and experimenting develops techniques that are unique to the artist. The first time I used a Wacom tablet to paint it was like trying to catch with my left hand. The more I used it, the less alien it felt and the better my paintings became. I painted a butterfly to animate for my BFA here at The Cleveland Institute of Art, and I was able to get beautiful variations of lines with a tablet. Some of my favorite techniques to use are:

  • Blending Modes- Blending modes in Photoshop can make highlights and light sources look amazing! When painting animals and nature, I like to overlay a texture on my painting layer. I play with all the blending modes when experimenting, but after awhile of getting to know how each one works I can predict which one will look best.
  • Clipping Masks- I will make solid shapes and use them as a clipping mask to paint inside. This way, I don't need to try to create a nice line with the eraser tool. For my butterfly I made solid black wing shapes, set them as a clipping mask for my painting layer, and voila! Painting inside the lines is automatic.
  • Brush Opacity- One of my favorite styles of painting is watercolor. I found that if I use a soft-edged brush and set the opacity to about 60% and set the blending mode of the brush to "multiply" it gives a nice build up and color mixture.

Most importantly, the best thing I ever did for myself was to start keeping a technical journal to document my experiments. If I figured out a way to make hair look just right, I wrote down what brush I was using, the brush size, brush opacity, etc. The next time I needed to paint hair on a polar bear, I had the information stored away. Don't rely on the photoshop file to re-trace steps.

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