How to Paint Digitally in Photoshop

Guide to Make a Painting in Photoshop

Did you ever try painting digitally? Painting ‘virtually’ with some great software and converting real photos into paintings can be much fun. Without any mess and expense, digital painting allows you to work more freely and soar high along with your creativity. Step by step you can save your work and make changes wherever you want. It allows you to experiment more and more and in the end you don’t have to wait for painting to dry. No odors, no chemicals, and no expenditures. It’s fun!

If you’re a beginner then here are some tips and tricks to get started with digital painting/mixed media. Though there are many ways to do this one thing but I am going to tell you the simple steps. If you’ll follow them you will be able to master this style soon.

What will you need?

Photoshop (I use Photoshop Element 6.0)


Step 1

Start with any image. Try human figures, animals or birds.

Open the image

On the right-hand side is your ‘layer bin’ .Your photo will open and be labeled as ‘background’

The photo needs little ‘enhancement’. Click the tab >>>’Enhance’tab.You will see adjust lighting >>>




Click>>> shadows/highlights

Start messing with these settings .Play until what you get what you want.

Under the same “Enhance” tab you can see adjust Color’. Adjust Hue / Saturation. Just increase the ‘saturation’ until you get bold colors.

You can also hit the ‘Color Variations’ tab and mess around there to get a good balance of colors. There are many options to choose. Play there too.

Step 2

Click >>>Layer.

Scroll down to>>> Fill Layer and then over to >>>Pattern.

You will see a box popping up. You see the check box by Group with Previous Layer. DON’T CHECK IT. Down to Mode, it by default is on ‘Normal’, click the arrow comes down. You will see a big list of but you hit the ‘Overlay’ tab. Leave opacity at 100 %.>>> Click OK.

After clicking OK, another box will come up. Click the down arrow by the little box with the ‘texture’ in it. Now you see many textures popping up. Click any of them. See what will work best and then add the best texture. It just depends on the photo. Make sure link with the layer is checked.

Step 3

Time to add a layer.

Go back to layer, select a new layer.

This layer will auto name itself ‘Layer 1’

Leave it to ‘Normal’ mode and Opacity 100%. Then click>>> OK.

What do you see in your palette bin?

You see your original photo (background)

The Pattern Fill Mask layer

and a new ‘layer 1’. Currently, it is a ‘checkered box pattern.

Step 4

Can you see paint-bucket tool on the left-hand side of PS (Photoshop)? >>>Click it.

Down at the very bottom make sure ‘white’ is your top color and ‘black’ is your background color.

With ‘layer 1’ selected in the bin,>>> click anywhere on the screen. What do you see all white screen? Don’t panic!!!

it should turn white and that’s what we want now. So you’re sure that ‘Layer 1’ is all white.

Now click the eyeball by ‘Layer 1’.

Hurray!!! you got your image back. Can you see you image now?

Step 5

Now go back to Layer and >>> click>>> New and then>>> Layer.

Name it ‘Layer 2’.

This ‘Layer 2’ is not going to appear in your layer bin. We have to leave it transparent. It’s going to be our final product.


Now you are all set to start painting>>>

Could you see the icon of smudge too down from our paint bucket tool?

Click it

The smudge tool should look like this

Normal mode>>> Strength at 100%>>>> checkbox by Use All Layers >>> no Check by Finger Painting.

Step 7

To the left-hand side of the screen on the same toolbar, there is a drop down menu that allows us to select our brushes.

Choose a brush.

By clicking the double arrow >> on the side to you can change your brush sets to find different ones. Every brush will have different affects on the project. So pick what you think will be good for your photo.

Now start clicking

Just click and drag to spread your color around.

It’s a lot of clicking and really time taking so keep painting 😉

Step 8

When you think you have painted all over the photo and finally created a painting then>>>

Delete Layer 1

Delete pattern fill 1

And now you will see only two boxes>>>

Layer 2

And background

Last Step

Go back to layer, scroll down and click Merge Visible (or Shift–CTRL—E).

It will merge the two layers.

Just remember>>> follow each and every step.