Digital Painting Techniques | 02 |Establishing Tone and Value

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Digital Painting Techniques: The Starting Point

Here’s the line work that you were left with in our previous lesson on digital painting techniques.

You may want to lock the transparency of these lines for the moment so that you will always have them and not be able to accidentally modify them if you select this layer by accident and begin painting.


how to draw character concept art textures


Working with Texture

In order to get rid of some of the sterility of the digital canvas when learning digital painting techniques, it’s good to apply a natural base of color to your work.

This could be a swab of acrylic paint like Mark is using in the video, or it could be a photo of another picture that you have taken with your digital camera.

As an artist, you should always be looking for opportunities to incorporate real world textures, colors and lighting into your digital work.


digital painting tutorials image and texture

Once you have your texture base, apply it to a new layer under your line work and adjust the hue (color) and saturation (amount of color) to give it a more grey tone, while still retaining some color from the initial texture.

digital concept art tonal value


Define Shading

Another useful tip when learning digital painting techniques is to add another layer on top of the line work and begin to add in some shading on top.

Mark suggests using the largest brush possible to keep from thinking of your drawing as too precious at this point, and also to enforce working quickly.

There will be a time for fine details to be added in, but this isn’t it. While you are shading in parts of the drawing, try to think in terms of what’s going to be in the foreground and what’s in the background.

digital painting concept art shading


Continue to work to establish the different light and dark values in the drawing while taking care to determine where the darkest part of your drawing is going to be (the mouth).

In this example image, you can see that the eyes are still quite dark, while part of the mouth still has a medium tone.

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Now with the eyes lightened up and the mouth darkened, the face is really starting to come along nicely.

Keep working quick and light at this point, taking care to shade with purpose, but not worrying too much if everything is perfect.

Speed is always something that you should strive to work towards when picking up digital painting techniques. This will allow you to make mistakes more quickly, and also learn from them more quickly so that you can continue to advance as an artist at a good pace.


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Create a Selection for the Head

Here you can see the silhouette is being selected to help define a work area that can be quickly and easily adjusted.

It’s usually a good idea to setup your coloring area before you start to draw so that you can always quickly and easily separate your work area from the background and adjust either layer really quickly.

We hope you enjoyed this article on digital painting techniques. If you did, why not leave us a nice comment below?