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Digital Painting Tutorial for Artists (Easy tips)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 7 min read
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This digital painting tutorial will help you create moods that become the foundation of more significant projects. Digital concept art is all about visualization. That means digital painting is a great way to flex your creative muscles.
Digital painting is often used as inspiration for movies, art, and other forms of media.

Digital Painting Tutorials: Choosing a Genre to Create the Foundation of Your Portfolio

Digital concept art comes in many creative versions. You can paint people and landscapes. You can combine different genres to make your digital painting more interesting. It all depends on the story you’re trying to tell.
What do you want your digital painting portfolio to look like? What kind of people do you want to attract to your work?
To find your ideal style, experiment with every genre you can imagine. You’ll likely discover your unique preferences and style along the way.

Collect References to Help Understand Perspective and Anatomy

Almost every digital artist uses references to make their paintings look realistic. Concept art tends to have a touch of realism because it’s meant to help others do their job better. For example, check out these concept paintings for the movie Oblivion.
Detailed paintings helped the rest of the team create an atmosphere for the movie. To achieve the same effect, you need to fill your mind with all kinds of references.
Create a folder for creative photography, inspiring digital art, and anything else that catches your eye.
As you paint, you can have a little reference window open to make sure that your anatomy and perspective look realistic.

Paint Silhouettes to Get a Better Idea of Your Entire Painting

If you start by painting details, you might end up with the wrong proportions. It’s easy to lose motivation when you look at your entire painting and see little progress.
You can “cheat” a little by painting silhouettes. This will serve as a visual aid for your digital painting. All you have to do is paint the basic form of your subjects using a dark color.
Silhouettes can help you:

  • Understand the perspective
  • Make better compositions
  • Get a clear idea of how your final painting will look

Together, these things can become a great source of motivation for your digital painting.
You can also sketch your concept art on paper. This is a great way to improve your drawing skills. The more prepared you are, the more appealing your final results will look.

Choose a Focal Point to Avoid Messy Compositions

As you can see in the digital paintings referenced, great concept art has a focal point. Your composition needs to have space to breathe. It also needs to have an engaging subject that tells a story about your entire painting.
Your focal point doesn’t have to be at the center of your painting. It can be off center or in an unusual corner. Make sure you choose your location so that your final composition doesn’t look messy.
In general, try to go for a minimalistic look. Not everything has to be detailed. If the surrounding environment isn’t essential, you can make it look abstract.
Check out the second slide in this Instagram post to see the artist’s digital painting process.

Work on Shadows and Light to Create Depth in Your Digital Painting

Most concept artists don’t start with the details.
Start by painting basic shadows and light. This is when reference photos come in handy. Where is your light source coming from? How many light sources do you have?
You can start with shadows and then build your way up to highlights. The more shades and tones you work with, the more realistic your digital painting will look.
Of course, you can create something much more abstract if you’re a beginner. The key is to experiment and practice with as many concepts as possible.

Use Photos to Make Your Concept Art Look More Realistic

You don’t always need to paint your concept art. Sometimes, you can use photos to make everything look more realistic. This is called photo bashing, and it can save you a lot of time.
Photo bashing involves merging photos and digital painting together. Most artists use their images or stock photos. You can cut, color correct, and paint over the pictures to make them blend with your work.

Use Color Correcting Tools to Enhance Your Final Results

Most editing programs have special tools like Curves and Selective Color. You can use these to manipulate specific colors or to enhance the overall look of your digital painting.
You can also convert your digital painting to black & white, enhance specific colors, and much more.
Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different tools. This can be the cherry on top at the end of your digital painting process!
(Make sure you save your original painting before you color correct so that you don’t lose your work.)

Watch Tutorials as You Paint to Speed up the Learning Process

Watching tutorials takes a lot of time, but it’s one of the best ways to improve your digital painting.
Instead of watching tutorials without doing anything, watch them as you paint. If there’s something you don’t understand, find a short video about it on YouTube or CTRL Paint.
This is one of the best ways to improve as a digital concept artist. You’ll be able to use your new knowledge and learn about all kinds of things as you work on your passion.


Digital concept art focuses on making ideas come to life.
To improve your digital painting, you can watch as many digital painting tutorials as you like. Experiment with different genres and use a variety of references. Your hard work can help other people finalize or improve important projects.

Common Digital Art Questions

What Do You Use for Digital Art?

You can use almost any editing program for digital art. One of the most popular drawing programs for digital art is Photoshop. You can also use an iPad or a drawing tablet to make the painting process more comfortable. Everything else should be available in your program.

How Can I Improve My Digital Painting?

Practice as much as you can. Experiment with different tools, brushes, and programs. Some artists thrive in Photoshop, while others prefer apps like Procreate. You can develop your digital painting style and improve your digital paintings with the right tools.

What Is CTRL Paint?

CTRL Paint is a website where artists can learn about digital painting. The videos last up to 5 minutes and are completely free. There are hundreds of videos available. Topics include digital painting basics, brushes, anatomy, and much more.

What Are Digital Drawings?

Digital drawings are virtual. You can make them on your computer, on the phone, or a drawing tablet. A digital drawing works the same way as regular drawings on paper. You can draw anything you want with the help of creative brushes, effects, and layers.