Digital Painting Techniques: The Ultimate Guide to Learning Digital Painting

Digital painting mimics traditional painting tools and substances using different software. Just like the rest of the digital world, it is subject to additions and improvements.

On the one hand, this demands that artists and creatives continuously seek to develop their skills and knowledge of new applications. On the other hand, it demands mastery of the digital painting techniques to create visuals that evoke the emotions the artists want.

This article explores digital painting techniques every artist should know to improve their digital painting abilities.

Defining with Gesture: The Basic Component of Digital painting

Painting doesn't always boil down to recreations of the real into a drawing or an art piece. Fleshing out your ideas using movement makes the difference between an average painting and a finished piece of art. Therefore, the first traditional technique you need to master digitally is gesture. Applying the following rules will help you use gestures correctly.

  • Build your composition at under 800px with large brushes of over 50% to 200%. This is important for conveying dynamic feelings with any sketch work and improves muscle memory.
  • Use the same method for the under-paint building. Use brushes with sharp edges to define your subjects and brushes with loose edges to define the environment that surrounds the subject.
  • Draw your renderings one line at a time. Random applications mess up with the volume and complicate the piece.

Vibrant Coloring

Coloring helps your painting stand out. However, how you apply, it is just as important as the type of color you use. As a color vibrancy rule, you should use heavy coloring for top layers.

The heavier the color, the more the painting draws attention.  This will also direct your color choices for the rest of the layers.

Impasto Digital Painting Tips

Impasto is an age-old painting texturing technique. In most cases, the brush strokes are visible, which makes it seem like the paint is sticking out of the painting. Its digital application works best as a way to improve rendering.

  • Use nontransparent brushes to achieve digital impasto texturing.
  • Use acrylic and gouache presets, especially if you're a beginner in digital impasto applications.
  • Paint over the large line with a small opaque brush. You can add a black stroke layer in the middle before you apply a second color. You can also use black as an under-paint to outline your volumes as an impasto technique.

Contrast Painting

Dramatic lighting is a digital art painting technique that focuses light on one area or several areas, which creates a contrasting pattern. Contrasting using light has no direct effect on the color like applying other coats on top of a color. The different lighting degrees replace different gradient strokes.

To illuminate your painting in this way digitally, follow these two tips.

  • Use brushes that are not too transparent or completely opaque.
  • Add strokes of warm colors like oranges and yellows.

Digital Layering

Layering is one of the easiest techniques to apply in a digital painting process. It is meant to make texturing and color shifts easier to do. It also helps the artist to add depth to their final artwork.

Digital layering helps artists separate elements during painting. You can paint different body parts separately, which allows room for additions and edits. This can be done to the foreground and background layers as well.

  • The layers appear in the final piece in the same order as the palette.
  • You can change the order by simply dragging and dropping within the palette.
  • Some software has layer features that change the interaction between a specific layer and those beneath it.
  • The opacity feature is designed to lighten darker colors or change the color layering.


Digital painting techniques will always change according to technological advancements. However, the basics principles of painting will help you to use the technologies as an aid rather than a replacement for painting principles.

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