How To Paint In Photoshop

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  04 April 2005
Ha ha I am doing just this right now!

I don't see how anyone could paint with a mouse!
They do however, and some damn good too, I reckon a drawing tablet is the way to go tho.
I find sketching with a pencil and scanning the sketch in the fastest. You can also cut and move, rotate and scale parts of your sketch which is handy.

If you have analogue painted alot you are bound to be frustrated in the beginning.

Slow down!

Give it time.

No 2 people use this medium the same just relax and enjoy exploring this very handy tool.
I used painter for a while and it aproximates different materials better, PS is pretty good tho.

Good luck and for crissakes have fun!
The terminal velocity of individual particles is directly related to pink rabbits on a bank holiday.
Characters, Games, Toys
  04 April 2005
It also goes farther than only getting a book about it, imo. It is a lot of trial and error and testing how the tools work and then finding how you are the most comfortable with them.

I know it is a bit frustrating to be told that but to me, it is a good part of the learning.

Just open a new file and start scribbling away, taking a tool and varying the settings and testing each of them and then you can quickly know how it works and then mix it with something else. You will also learn new things and improve your way of working each time you start to paint something new.

A number 1 rule is not to be afraid to mess up, ctrl-z is there to take care of that!
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Leigh: If you suck at painting in Photoshop, it's because you need to learn how to paint, not how to use Photoshop. I'd recommend finding a local art school and taking some painting lessons.

that's a strong assumption...I disagree... there are plenty of highly skilled artists that initially would be lost using photoshop to paint....

and conversely there are plenty of digital artists that'd be fumbling with oils or watercolors... at first... "where's the undo?"

I think it comes down to finding out what techniques can simulate traditional techniques (simuluating markers, ink pen , watercolors , oils...) to get started (playing with brush settings) then on top of that all the wacky goodness that the software brings that can't be done by traditional methods

Last edited by Hugh-Jass : 04 April 2005 at 10:22 PM.
  04 April 2005
I don't recommend the dusso's dvd's if your a beginner. He goes quite fast, so it will be diffucult to keep up.
Computers don't make mistakes, it's the human that does.

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  04 April 2005
I think I agree with Lilie the most. Trial and error is probably the best way to get a feel for photoshop's painting tools. Instructional DVDs and books will point you in a few possible directions, but there are countless ways to approach painting with photoshop. A great starting point is with the paintbrush tool with your tablet linked to opacity. I've seen some great paintings greated with only this. From there, you might want to explore the different ways you can tweak brush dynamics in CS. As you progress you'll discover alot of other tools that will help achieve the effects you're interested in. Tutorials in books and on DVD will probably be most helpful after you've played with photoshop and created a few paintings with its most basic tools.

Hugh_Jass, I agree with what you're saying, but I don't think it conflicts with Leigh's statement. It seems like you're suggesting that the leap from traditional to digital, and visa versa, takes a good amount of time and energy. This makes perfect sense, learning a new medium is always tricky. At the same time, all the knowledge of color, composition, value, etc, carries over from each. Leigh was saying that if you don't have those basic skills, you'll produce digital art that is just as bad as your traditional work.
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by DyslexicDan: Painting in real life and painting in photoshop are two diffrent things. Like how do you make the colors blend in photoshop, what kind of brush thingies do you use in photoshop, and where do you start.

I like to try and emulate (oil) painting when I'm painting digitally. I like the physical blending of the colours/oils. And to do that in Photoshop I have made a bunch of custom brushes. One that I use a lot is the blurry one in the image below. I usually start with a mid range colour and adding darker/cooler colours and lighter/warmer colours. I have a very low flow setting and 100% opacity in the brush tool bar. In the brush settings under Other Dynamics I have pen pressure and sometimes change the opacity and flow jitter.

This is just a very short description of how I paint in Photoshop. Sorry have to have lunch now and then go out.....
  04 April 2005
When I first switched over to Photoshop (many years ago) I had to completely relearn my tools. It is about as easy as switching from sketching in coal to painting in water colours - you'll still have the basic knowledge of how things work (anatomy, colours, light, etc) but everything might well end up looking as if a five-year-old went ballistic with the Wacom.

Having said this, I have to agree with the thought on trial and error. Books and tutorials are all very fine, but until you get a real feel for the program, you'll be painting very clumsily. I always suggest for beginners in Photoshop to start up the first week by trying EVERY tool at hand. Try the pen and all its brushes, try the healing brush, try the dodge, try the lines, the squares, the smudge, the blur, the layers and their effects, the quick masks, try the filters - everything you can get your hands on in the program (meaning, everything) you try out, and the things you think - Oh, this is nice! about, jot down a little note how you found it and remember it for later.

Then, first week up - drop the filters and the short cuts and all the unnecessary stuff and plop down to the basics. For an entire week, sketch in photoshop using only a hard edged round brush (it's the one that's just round without being blurry) and its different functions. The third week, you'll have a pretty nice understanding of the program itself and what you can do with it. You'll be able to figure out how to combine the excessive stuff that you went wild with the first week with the nice, simple stuff you toyed with the second.

It's about learning what's good and bad about the tool you're using. A simple artist's brush outside the computer is far more approachable than Photoshop is. What one should always remember is that painting on the computer has this one great benefit to any other kind of painting: you can save different versions of every picture. So there's no reason to be afraid to try new things, sketch new stuff, angle the light in a new way or burst another colour into a painting even if you think it won't work.

Oh, and if you're looking for books, check out D'artiste, I'm one of the artists featured in it so I can't speak for my own part in it - but I know that the other guys are awesome and give some really nice advice and tips.

Best of luck to you :]
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  04 April 2005
I'm kinda new in this technique, but first I had to learn to paint with the mouse, pretty hard, but that makes me learn in the difficult mode. Then I buy my tablet and it was easier. I think, the secret here is to practice, practice and practice. Maybe at first, the paintings will look kinda flat, but try to observe people, environments, sky, fabrics, leaves, everything. Look how the light interacts with all these stuff and try to reproduce it into the screen. The tutorials may help, much more if they are coming from the masters (like Enayla), but you need to find your own technique. Maybe my way to shading skin is different from other people, because I find my own way for to do it easy and fast. But I think the key is PRACTICE and OBSERVATION.

Last edited by Libellula : 04 April 2005 at 12:51 AM.
  04 April 2005
I really think Enayla has given the best advice. Learn your tools.

I've tried, and failed miserably several times to start on things in photoshop and get them painted to any degree of proficiency. I found that I ran into a million logistical problems and really didn't know my way around the program. After so many attempts at trying things that are ambitious, it's easy to lose heart.

The thing is, painting or drawing in real life, you are holding your tool, and can see it's immediate effects on the piece you are working on. You can watch the bristles of the brush touch the canvas, and as such it's much more intuitive to learn and is a million times more tactile.

In PS, you're using a digital brush, on digital canvas. You never really see the tool itself being used, you just have to get a feel for it. I found it extremely aggravating for quite a long time. For any of my knowledge of art, I just could not apply it in photoshop, the tools were too foreign.

I'd recommend sketching out a simple, yet interesting composition, one that wouldn't take you more than an hour or so to paint over top of. Scan that into photoshop, and scale it to a reasonable size (smallish). Then, as was suggested, try approaching it with every possible tool. And document everything really well, really retain the information that you're learning. I find that my biggest sin of working on things digitally is that I zone out while staring at the screen and don't really think to much about what I'm doing - at which point I'm just wasting so much time.

I've gone back from trying to do actual paintings to doing plain old spheres. In ten minutes I learned more than I had in an hour of trying big stuff, because I wasn't thinking so much about the picture and the complexities of composition/anatomy/light source/etc.

I know I've gone on ad naseum, but I feel like it's definitely best to start simple. Sketch out a picture you can stand to color a bunch of times, then you only need to worry about everything else once, while you focus on the task of learning the program through and through.
"You're not going crazy, Arthur! You're going sane in a crazy world!" - The Tick

Go do the CGTALK Sketch of the day!
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Flatuloso: .....
The thing is, painting or drawing in real life, you are holding your tool, and can see it's immediate effects on the piece you are working on. You can watch the bristles of the brush touch the canvas, and as such it's much more intuitive to learn and is a million times more tactile.......

I remember we had to do an excersie for a 2D design that was drawing without rotating the page, I'm not sure what the purpose was but it was bleedin difficult!

One of the most foreign things is that in PS you don't rotate the paper like you do when you sketch. I seem to remember in painter there was a quick operation for this.

Anyhow it will take a while to get the feel, I still have trouble in PS drawing an expersive or straight line. In the end I rekon its faster for painting if you can master it.
The terminal velocity of individual particles is directly related to pink rabbits on a bank holiday.
Characters, Games, Toys
  04 April 2005
The hardest part about a drawing tablet for me is not being able to turn around. I'm always trying to make better archs by turning my paper or canvas upside down, or at a slant, or on its side. Upwards archs are so much smoother than downwards archs. You turn your drawing tablet around and everything is messed up.

I'm still learning to switch from more traditional mediums myself (my experience is in acrylics - so much cheaper than oils).


EDIT: I see others have covered this. I may end up having to buy a cintiq someday. there go my hopes of owning a car when I get my license... :\

>> Coming Soon: Adventure takes a whole new form... <<
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by -NG-: I don't recommend the dusso's dvd's if your a beginner. He goes quite fast, so it will be diffucult to keep up.

i agree with you, its quite fast for a beginner, and he doesn't explain how it works,about type of brush etc etc but he's very good artist!!!
  04 April 2005
Personally I wouldn't bother with PhotoShop for painting. It isn't a painting program (sure many artists use it--and some are phenomenal--but, why bother when there are much better PAINTING programs out there). PS is primarily designed for photo/image editing (I mainly use PS to clean up/enhance art created in other programs--including my 3D stuff).

Ck out Painter, you can download a trial version of Painter IX at Corel's website. And by all means, get a tablet. If you're really serious about learning, you might as well do it the easy way =]


Last edited by anim8r2 : 04 April 2005 at 03:55 AM.
  04 April 2005
To offer a differing opinion, I prefer photoshop to painter for painting. Probably this is because I'm used to the interface, and because I don't even want to emulate "real" media on the computer.

Anyway, I'll try to offer some assistance as well:
If you use hard-edged brushes as enayla suggested, you can think of Photoshop as much like painting with really great gouaches. You could work in broad areas of colour, and then detail more. It would be good exercise to work with 100% opacity brushes and not even try to blend the colours. For gradients etc. just paint intermediary colours between the shades you want to blend together. Personally I paint almost exclusively with hard-edged brushes, and lately have been veering towards only using the brush opacity settings once I've got the image I'm working on in fairly good shape, with all the colours and values blocked in. I find it's easier to maintain structure that way, and with full opacity brushes you don't get stuck trying to refine each shade with these "microglazes" like I used to tend to... But if you have a tablet you can use the painting area as a palette of sorts: just paint a blob of colour on the "canvas" and then, at a lower opacity paint the colour you want to mix that with over that blob. Then you can sample the blended colour you have created with the colour picker.

Here's an example of a painting from life I did, not in photoshop but opencanvas. The technique is the exact same I use anyway, though. (yes much of it sucks.) The cloth over the chair demonstrates what I said above quite well. I hope. (nudity)

I'm not exactly even sure what it is you're having trouble with, though... Maybe you don't know yourself, Photoshop can be a daunting application if you're just thrown in front of it with no explanation. The painting part is fairly intuitive after a while though, and you'll find that most of traditional theory, paint mixing aside does apply.

Last edited by rebuilder : 04 April 2005 at 05:26 AM.
  04 April 2005
I guess my problem is that I have never run into anyone who could explain Photoshop in this manner of use. There is a 109 different tutorials out there teaching you to do photo manipulation, making buttons for web sites, adding your self into pictures of celebrities but nothing on how paint. Correction, there are tutorials explaining how color images with Photoshop as the medium but they never explain how they got the brush to look like that or do what it does. They also donít explain how they manage their color pallets if they have one at all. Its not artistic techniques that Iím having problems with its Photoshop its self. So a better question would be how are you people getting it to do those things?

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