Digital Painting 101: The Complete Guide

If you're interested in learning to make concept art — or simply taking your recreational painting into the digital sphere — concept artist Matt Kohr spent a week teaching us the basics. Here's the complete 101 course for your edification.

Lesson 1: Get Started Painting on Your Computer Painting digitally is significantly different from painting with brushes. This kick-off lesson in digital painting provides you with a broad overview of those differences, suggestions for the software and hardware you'll need in your digital painting toolbox, and some tips for getting around with your tools of choice.

Lesson 2: Brushes and Erasers The heavy lifting of digital painting happens with Photoshop's brush and eraser tools. This lesson familiarises you with each — including how the brush tool alone encapsulates other traditional painter tools like airbrushes, pencils, pens and more — then teaches you a few tricks for using them better.

Lesson 3: Mixing Paint As one colour approaches another there's always a blended transition. Even if your subject is painted a single colour it will have lighter and darker areas. Digital or not, painting involves a lot of mixing to find the right shades and blends of colours. This lesson details how to mix paint on your screen like a pro.

Lesson 4: Layers Layers are one of the features that most dramatically separate traditional from digital painting. Knowing how to use layers to your advantage can give you great freedom as a digital painter. In this lesson I'll introduce the fundamentals of the layer palette, as well as my thoughts on layer economy.

Lesson 5: Putting It All Together For the final less, Matt showcases each of the previously explained techniques in an illustration demo.

Matt Kohr is a freelance concept artist / Illustrator. For more information, check out or


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