While doing a few digital paintings in Photoshop I developed a simple technique to somewhat emulate the look of real paintings using brushes in photoshop.

Probably the kind of thing "painter" would be used for, but heres what I do in photoshop.

This is very simple, but I've been asked a few times what precisely I did to get the look, so I thought I would share it.

Of course, while the technique is still simple, using it in practice takes time. Its not a filter or anything.

For each step I will provide the simple step, and then go into detail on some organization and details of my process for anyone who wants more detail. If you want the 20 second version, just read the parts above the separation line.

warning: This is intended for use with a graphic tablet (wacom in my case). You can try it with a mouse but I don't know many people who can do much digital painting with a mouse.

And I'll note that I am far from a professional, and merely have done some of this in my free time. I do not pretend to be an expert, just simply wanted to throw this out there.

The image below is a finished digital painting I made using this technique, although you cant see the purpose of the technique at this size. Read on for that.

Step 1: Place down base colors

The first step is to simply place down the base colors and shading for you painting.

But a quick warning first: do this at a very high resolution. The effect will be completely lost otherwise. It doesn't have to be this big, but the final image I showed you is 4200x2000 pixels at its full size. Just save it to a smaller size for the net later.


For this particular example I'm using a shirt sleeve that had a lot of detail in the wrinkles because it shows the effect well.

Because of the nature of the specific details of the area, I did not use my tablet for this part but instead just used the polygonal lasso tool to put down the shades. For more organic areas like arms and the face I paint out the shades/highlights with my tablet.

I've included an example of a base done with a tablet in the images.


I create a folder for each general color needed, in this case that includes folders for Blue (hat, undershirt, wristbands and such), Light grey (shirt), Brown(glove), and so on.

This technique needs to have a high level of contrast to work properly, so needs somewhat detailed shading. Small areas may be able to get away with the base color, one shading color and one highlight, but larger areas generally need two degrees of highlight and 2 degrees of shading, as well as pure black/pure white touch-ups.

In the case of the sleeve, I used a base color, one shade, and two degrees of highlighting. And then did a little more that I will detail in a later step.
Cool! I wish I had a Wacom pad.
You don't need a wacom or any kind of graphics tablet to draw digitally. I don't have one, yet, many of my paintings are digital. A mouse is all you need.
I have GOT to try this on GIMP. It looks amazing!
heY ahh im kinda new to all this but wats GIMP
General Image Manipulation Program Just google gimp, its free
GNU Image Manipulation Program. Please do your research before posting false information.
No its Gatorade Is Magical Potion Get your facts straight lol
Funny. Except it's not. Jeff, you're right, it is GNU Image Manipulation Program.
Lol! GNU Image Manipulation Program. Either way, it's free and has some pretty neat features. I use it for almost everything I draw.
Texas rangers!!! Represent!
I would like to try these techniques to create special photos of my kids playing some of their sports. What were the original source images for these athlete images. Looking closely at the early images it looks like they were vector images rather than photographs. Is this correct? Any suggestions for preparing a photograph before applying these techniques?
Thankyou, I've been playing around with photoshop painting, and it's nice to see another way for me to try. Great work by the way
I love the effect, I wish you would have recorded those steps into an action and would had posted it here. For those lazy of us. Cheers.
I like it! Im just getting into using acrylic paint on canvas and this makes me want to try digipainting too lol!!
dude im knew to photoshop and i have no idea what im supposed to do if you know photoshop these r probably great instructions, but if u dont theyre horrible
This instructables isn't suppose to cover anything a beginner would need to know. I suggest you read other tutorials and instructables to learn photoshop or draw, then you would actually want to learn about painting the pictures.
That is a fantastic first instructable !! brilliant picture, you should have it printed and framed and hang it in your home!!
Goislesgo, I hope your hand gets better soon, I know what it is like to not be able to do any art because of one hand not working. Maybe it is a good time to learn how to do things with the other hand. LOl you should see how hard it is to art with in IV in you wrist or had.
Hey that's a great technique. Thanks for sharing!
well done it looks like you put a great deal of effort into each drawing. My painting is paused until my broken hand is healed. Keep up the good work
Amazing job!!! Well done!
Hey, Not sure if you're from Texas or not, but kudos on using the forgotten baseball team. As a resident from DFW, it's nice to see stuff like this!
They're only forgotten cause they're terrible now
You're an inspiration to all the lazy artists out there! Great job.
wow pretty nice picture and pretty good instructable

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