"PAINTOVER PLEASE" - painted crits on demand - with Steven Stahlberg


Hi Mr. Stahlberg, I’ve been lurking this thread for a while, and i was wondering what would you do to improve my latest painting. I’m trying to portray a girl holding an umbrella with her hair swept by the wind, I’m mostly confused of how to draw the background, because the image has been flattened. I’m sorry if it’s highly stylized, so maybe you could point some things to be improved if you don’t want to paint over it :slight_smile: A few flaws that I see for now is one the eye, mouth and ear placement.

Thank you for this wonderful thread :beer: looking forward to your suggestion(s) :slight_smile:


Hi, this is my newest artwork for CHOW#237 entry in conceptart.org

it tells about a human being interrogated by an Illithid / mind flayer with its mindreading ability.
i want the muscles to be subtle, but it looks too flat. the light source is from a light bulb directly above.

oh and one more thing, I drew this from grayscale and then colorize it with overlay layer.
But the color looks a bit dull, the black and the white tends to form a dark / light block (e.g. on the human skin).
but if i use color layer, it spoils the value, the dark seems too light.
is it my grayscale value that not correct, either too much black or too much white?

sorry for my bad english.


Two more images:



Thankyou so much Mr. Stahlber.
what you did with my image just amaze me.

I am new to digital painting so I dont know a lot of stuff.
I would like to know if I should use the blur tool in photoshop if I want to make the skin look softer, or if it depends of the brush that i use when i paint the color. And also when should I use a harder brush.

Thanks again.


It’s difficult to say, it depends on the light, the direction of light and strength, and if it casts sharp or soft shadows. For sharp shadows you need sharp brushes. I usually don’t use the blur function so much, instead I mostly use the smudge brush, like I would use my finger on charcoal drawing.

Here’s another image:


Hi Mr.Stahlberg, so glad that I have found this thread at last. Was thrilled ever since I heard about the paint over from your talk.

I painted this using photo references of Rihanna and Angkor’s ancient ruins. I was going for a mythical pagan goddess kinda of feeling (exotic sunny jungle landscape, almost impassive facial express). However, I just couldn’t get the feeling right. I see all the beginner’s mistakes here, too much details and too high contrast, but I don’t know how to correct it. Would really appreciate it if you can paint over this


I can’t see an image in your post? Do you have a link?


Hi Mr. Stalhberg, I’m new to posting image on forums, I thought inserting the following url as image would work :frowning:

Thank you so much!


ok, got it.



ok, got it.



Thanks a lot Mr. Stahlberg, that’s pretty much where I’m heading right now with that project, I’ll be updating it soon.


Two more entries…


Thank you for the paintover, Mr.Stahlberg :cool: The painting is much more focused now without the distracting background. And thanks for fixing the light and the shadow, I need a lot work on that.


Thank you very much Mr. Stahlberg, I really appreciate it. The face is more beautiful now.

May I know how do you usually pick colors? especially for the realistic approach, and is it okay if I color picked directly from reference photograph for color scheme in my works? :slight_smile:


Hello Mr.Stahlberg

I’ve been working on a fan art for Blizzard’s game World of Warcraft, Would like to improve the background or maybe even the character itself. Whatever you feel that would improve the image.



Tseirp, yes it’s ok to color pick from photographs. Why shouldn’t it be? The problem is a photo can lead you the wrong way, you have to look at your painting and make decisions about color based on your image. Sometimes it’s identical to the reference, but often I’d want to change the color a little, one way or another.
But also note, you certainly don’t have to get the color right on the first try. Hardly anyone ever does.


hey steven, the character in this piece is an arabian thief. looking at the night city view, on top of a building roof,nothing much
the character is from turkey, during ottomon period,
but i guess is not very obvious ,wish i could spend more time on designing .
i’m weak at concept… :rolleyes:
feel free to change or improve anything.

hope you are doing fine =) thanks again.
you are a great inspiration to me. :bowdown:


Hi, Mr. Stahlberg! this is my newest artwork:

i think i’m addicted with your paintover, lol.
since it’s very effective for me to learn to be better.

Thx again, n good luck with your DW V!


Thank you Mr. Stahlberg, I wanted to not only bookmark this thread, but speak my appreciation for some interesting styles and paint overs! I am just getting ready to start doing painting with a tablet. I am trained in physical mediums (*acrylic mostly), but I am very nervous about trying to take my knowledge to a tablet. Any advice on the transition?



Just jump in. You just have to put in a certain number of hours of practice and eventually it will all make sense. You might want to save the truly ambitious stuff for later, and start off with smaller things, sketches, doodles, fun stuff. Things without a lot of pressure attached to it. Simple brushes are best to start with. Keep the history window open and you can always undo every stroke.