10 Advanced Digital Painting techniques

Here are some of the advanced Digital Painting techniques that I use regularly when I do digital Painting. These have made my life a whole lot easier and have given me super powers like never before 🙂


Alright, here we go.

1- Using Emboss to paint 3d looking texture.

This one is so simple yet so effective and I just recently started using this. I’ve never used it before in my paintings.  I did know this tool before however but never thought of using it in my paintings to give a 3d look to my textures. Here is how it helps.

Paint using a textured brush and then apply emboss keeping the light direction of Painting in mind.

How cool is that!

2- Using “Blend if “  to finely mask out the dark or light values.

This one is so useful that I can’t imagine painting without using this technique. It gives such fine control over texture blending that once you use this technique you will fall in love with it.

Here is how it works…

It masks out the layer and it does so keeping the grayscale values and RGB channels in mind. This is really an advanced level of masking. If you wanna mask out the current layer based on the darks or lights of the same current layer then use the top slider. But, if you wanna mask the current layer based on the darks or lights of the layer below then use the bottom slider.  You can also press alt and click on the arrows and that will break the arrow, giving you even finer control over it. If that is not cool then I don’t know what is 🙂

3- Smooth lines using Lazy Nezumi.

This one is mind blowing if you are into line works. I personally don’t do much line work but I have used this and really loved it.

This allows you to draw lines without worrying about stroke distortions. Straight and smooth lines using the tablet is extremely hard, especially if it’s not Cintiq. This not only helps with straight lines but it also has perspective guides. Just mind-blowingly helpful. A game changer for many.

4- Using speed painting toolbar by Jonas De Ro.

I can’t imagine working without this now. Photoshop’s default brush panel is cumbersome and everyone hates that, but this tool is another game changer. Enough said!


5- Using Carapace for a quick perspective guide.

Carapace by Epic Games is a tool that helps you generate the perspective guides quickly and effectively. Just select two line and it will create the perspective guides for you, then you can simply just copy it and paste in photoshop as a separate layer. Click HERE to download.

Here is how it’s done, just click the image for a demo.


6- Using “variations “ to adjust colors.

This adds colors to your black n white sketch very easily, but I prefer to use it at the end of a painting when I still have some creative juice left to see how it would look with some other color variations.  If you use it to color the  B&W sketch then don’t use it as it is, rather, use it to jump start the coloring process. In Photoshop, go to Image> adjustments> Variations…


7- Using mixer brush tool.

This is something which I just recently found out about. It’s a really crazy how useful this tool is.  

It’s a brush which acts like a clone too but has a huge benefit for Painters. Once you select anything by pressing alt + click then you can clone it to anywhere you want and not only that, you can also rotate and scale the brush to clone the way you like. Check out this video for a demo by Reid Southen.


8-  Eyedropper tool.

For this one, you may say, it’s not something new or extraordinary but if you have never used it then it will really help you select proper color especially when there are numerous layers and adjustment layers. So here is how it helps. It’s usual that those of us who paint using many many layers, it becomes cumbersome if we want to go back to previous layer and edit/ re-paint on that layer. The issue here is that we have to hide the layers on top and then paint, to avoid selecting the wrong colors which are not on that particular layer. This slows down the process. So if we just change the Sample of Eyedropper tool to “Current and below”, that makes the process faster and we don’t have to switch the top layers on and off.


9- Using high pass filter for re-lighting.

Many times we get photo textures from the internet and the photos are not evenly lit. So to correct that we use high pass filter. This filter is used to correct the lighting on the photo texture so that when you use that in your painting it will be evenly lit.


10 – Using LUT lookup table.

This one is very useful for giving a cinematic feel to Paintings. There are several LUTs files available by default, but you can also get premade LUTs from the internet and then apply it as an adjustment layer. This will also change the values (darks and lights) but if you just want to affect colors then put that adjustment LUT layer on color as blend mode


That was it. I hope you learned a thing or two from these techniques above :). If you have any question then you can ask me here or on my Facebook Page.