How to Paint in Photoshop

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Painting in Adobe Photoshop is a matter of knowing the different tools and what you can do with them. After you have a sketch or line art, four basic phases of digital painting are at your mouse tip: color, shadow, highlight and blend. Using Photoshop to color and paint creates an image that is ready to be used on the Internet or in printed formats.

Preparing Your Sketch

  • Scan your sketch or prepare your line art using Photoshop and then open either your sketch or line art in the program.

  • Left-click the name of your sketch in the Layers Palette and rename it "Sketch."

  • Create a new layer by pressing "Ctrl+Shift+N." (Instructions in this tutorial are for users of Microsoft Windows.)

  • Left-click the new layer in the Layers Palette and rename it "Color."

Digital Painting

  • Left-click the colored square in the Tools palette to choose your background colors.

  • Left-click the brush tool in the Tools palette and choose the diameter you want from the Options toolbar.

  • Left-click and drag the brush tool over the large areas of your image to fill in the basic background colors. Change the color in the Tools palette when needed.

  • Choose the direction of the light source in the image. For this tutorial, use the top left.

  • Choose darker hues of your original colors by left-clicking the colored square in the Tools palette.

  • Add shadows to your image on the bottom left of contours and objects.

  • Choose lighter hues of your original colors by left-clicking the colored square in the Tools palette.

  • Add highlights to your image on the top left of contours and objects.

  • Left-click the Smudge tool in the Tools palette to select it.

  • Use the Smudge tool to smoothly blend the color with your shadows and highlights.

  • Add any fine details to your painting such as leaves, hair or fine lines using the brush tool set to a small diameter.

  • Save the file in the appropriate format for either print or web by left-clicking "File" and selecting "Save As" from the drop-down menu.

Tips & Warnings

  • When shading and highlighting, use an opacity and flow of about 20.
  • The keyboard shortcut to undo an action is "Ctrl+Z."

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