Articles, Blog

Digital Painting in Photoshop – Tools, Techniques, and Tips

November 18, 2019

Another tool we can use to sketch caricatures
is…painting. Digital painting. As you’ve seen throughout this course, there
are lots of methods and tools you can use to sketch your caricatures: Pencils, markers,
brush pens, charcoal are all great to use when doing thumbnails or rough sketches. I hope you’ve been experimenting with all
of them along the way. Because you may find some tools work better
than others for you and your artistic sensibilities. Well, there’s one tool we haven’t yet looked
at: Digital painting. Previously, I’ve used digital painting programs
like Corel and Photoshop to create digital line drawings. But I haven’t yet shown you how I use these
programs to create sketched paintings done with shapes and values, rather than with lines. Even though it’s painting with shapes, I still
consider it a “sketch” and not a painting, because it’s done quickly, and roughly and monochromatically. Artists throughout history like Rubens and
Fragonard were known to have done quick oil painted sketches in preparation for larger
paintings. But in this lesson, we’ll be paint-sketching
for the purpose of creating an original caricature exaggeration. And instead of building the thumbnail sketch
with lines, will be using a big brush to block out the shapes. The Process For this demonstration, I’ll be painting with
a stylus on my Wacom Cintiq22HD using Adobe Photoshop 2018, which is my preferred app
for most of my painting and illustration work. And now for some technical details. You don’t need a fancy custom brush to do
good digital paintings. Here are the qualities that make a good basic
digital paint brush: The brush Shape is round, it has a hard edge, and the pen pressure is
linked to brush opacity. But not the brush size. You can use any painting program you like,
of course. Just make sure that the brush you use has
similar properties. In Photoshop 2018 the brush I’m using today
is called the “Hard Round Pressure Opacity” brush. In the premium version of this lesson on,
I go over the specific settings so you can make this brush yourself if you don’t have
this version of Photoshop. The effect we’re after here is similar to
a Filbert or flat style brush used for oil and acrylic painting. Your brushstrokes should look something like
this. Now, let’s do a digital paint sketch of actress
Gal Gadot. To get started, I like to fill the canvas
with a middle gray value. A middle gray background helps you judge flesh
tones more accurately. If you start on a white canvas, it tends to
influence your eye to paint everything on the face too light in value. In reality, flesh tones, even caucasian flesh,
are very far from white. So, with a really large brush, I start blocking
in the biggest shapes first. After the basic head shape is there, I separate
the shadow areas from the lit areas. I avoid details for as long as possible and
just focus on the biggest shapes using the biggest brush that I can get away with. This is a critical moment in the process,
because I’m establishing the head shape which will determine the likeness and exaggeration. However, it’s really easy to change it along
the way. Erasing and re-shaping the head is no problem
when painting digitally. I spend most of my time on paintings working
in the middle value range. That’s where the bulk of my labor is going
to be. And then I work my way towards the darkest
darks and lightest highlights. Most of the face is in the light, so the values
are within a really narrow range on the light side of the face. When painting or sketching in a realistic
manner, it’s important to decide where the borders of the shadows are. And those shadow borders have a specific shape
and design to them. You also have to study the reference photo
to figure out if that border is a hard or soft edge. Usually, the edges of the cast shadows, like
under the nose and chin, will have a sharp edge. And form shadows, like those on the side of
the face, will have a softer edge. Understanding how to use edges is a major
part of being a realistic draftsman or painter. Pay attention to your edges. A good trick for finding soft and hard edges
is to squint and blur your eyes at the reference photo. The soft edges will appear softer, but hard edges
tend to stay hard. When paint-sketching digitally like this,
the thumbnail concept evolves naturally into the rough sketch as I spend more time on it. And if I’m really confident about the sketch,
I can continue refining it into a finished painting and even color it. However, I usually take these types of painted
sketches no farther than the rough sketch stage. I’ll stop while it’s still rough in appearance
and do an abstraction over this to find errors in the structure before moving on to a final
drawing or colored painting. Digital sketch painting is fun and is great
for exploring shapes. But just a warning, when you don’t have a
line drawing to follow, it can sometimes lead to sloppy construction and facial symmetry. So watch out for that problem. You don’t want to pour too much time into
it if this painted sketch has fundamental drawing errors. If you want to caricature at a high level,
you always need to stop, examine and correct your work before moving on. Check out Lesson 4 of this course to find
out how to use the Abstraction to refine a sketch like this. Assignment So if you’re following along at home, use
your favorite digital painting program to to make some black and white painted sketches. I prefer Photoshop, but some other great programs
are Corel Painter, Clip Studio Paint or even apps on the iPad Pro like Procreate, or Tayasui
Sketches. If you use an iPad though, make sure you use
it with the Apple Pencil, not your finger, because you really need to have pressure sensitivity
to work effectively. Most of the painted sketches I demonstrate
here and in the premium videos were done between 30 to 60 minutes. Remember, you’re not supposed to do a finished
rendering. These are only rough sketch paintings. It’s okay for them to have an unfinished look. Critiques If you’d like to maybe get some critiques
of your painted caricature sketches, post them on the Proko caricature
group at Or send it to us in an email at [email protected] Premium Content Just a reminder, you can view a longer version
of this video and several more demonstrations on different people if you sign up for the
premium version of this course on The premium videos go into a lot more detailed
analysis of my sketch painting process on some different character types.


  • Reply John Presto December 7, 2017 at 8:32 pm


  • Reply kevin jones December 7, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I can't go back to photoshop after using procreate + apple pencil. Might not have all the bells and whistles, but much more enjoyable

  • Reply Angel Ganev December 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Notification squad where you at? XD
    Thank you for doing this Proko&Court, it's super useful! I love digital painting, I just uploaded my first speedpaint video and I just hope one day I'll be as big as you one day on Youtube <3

  • Reply -X-Aiden Experiment-X- December 7, 2017 at 8:44 pm


  • Reply Mr Leadfoot December 7, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Did you do this all in one layer?

  • Reply slemp December 7, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I would recommend krita it's free and a really good almost better than photoshop

  • Reply Dramawind December 7, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I use gimp for this kind of stuff. Is it considered more or less the same when it comes to simple grayscale painting or should I start using some other software?

  • Reply Vio R. Atman December 7, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I would recommend PaintStorm Studio, it's a software specifically for painting, and it's only a one time payment.

  • Reply Sandino Sanchez December 7, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Man this series is so great! I'm really glad this is here cause I'm trying to get better at digital art since I've mostly done traditional work. The caricature series is super helpful for my animation focus. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply alp arslan December 7, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    That is what we waiting for

  • Reply alp arslan December 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Best lesson ever ….. thank you super Artist

  • Reply manytcnj December 7, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Super useful video. Court, do you prefer to sketch like this or with a line drawing?

  • Reply Dominic Henry December 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    This is a very useful and great video. I am starting back to digital painting my self and started sketching and finding shapes to draw characters. My question is, where can you find the hard opacity brush from photoshop preset or downloaded ?

  • Reply DecM3 _ December 7, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I thought the thumbnail was a caricature of IHasCupquake

  • Reply VeronicasTouch December 7, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Proko has really changed since starting teaching on the internet. Its like he is a completely different instructor now.

  • Reply Ed Days December 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Great video, for me It´s really difficult to make the sketch with painting, I always need lines but this would make my works much faster.

  • Reply Extreme Kiwi December 8, 2017 at 1:14 am

    This caricature does not capture the likeness well. It looks like you drew a completely different person.

  • Reply zar art December 8, 2017 at 1:16 am

    great video,i don'y it looks like gal gadot,i think making the forehead smaller ,hurts the likeness,
    your sketch looks better than my finished painting

  • Reply Juha B December 8, 2017 at 2:30 am

    It would be really nice and helpful if they made an animal drawing course. I really want to be good at drawing animals but I found there are not many good books and courses on drawing animals.

  • Reply Sr Bob December 8, 2017 at 2:44 am

    Where could I find more information about edges? I feel most people just assume that those concepts are obvious but when you are an animator used to line drawing and trying to render, edges are just lines. For painters it seems to be a whole different thing.

  • Reply EWKification December 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Fantastic technique and result. I've really got to try this to expend my repertoire and skill set.
    My art:

  • Reply belajb December 8, 2017 at 10:13 am

    you are very bias toward adobe etc…you did not mention any of the open source programs?

  • Reply Bone December 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Your a art monster

  • Reply Grenader December 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Post more of digital painting process videos!

  • Reply Youtube Commenter December 8, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Oh look! Bruce Wayne is sketching a picture of Diana

  • Reply Paul mate December 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    This is so good. Thank you for sharing

  • Reply Colored Sketchs December 8, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    I do make videos.
    Timelapse Sketching and Coloring.
    I like making them, I hope you like watching them!

  • Reply J. Paolo Novelli December 8, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Great video and very useful!! Now, i'm using Krita and it's awesome. Have you tried it?

  • Reply Ian HFS December 8, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    If you want a nice alternative to paint, checkout GIMP . It's free software, in the sense that you don't have to pay for it, and more important, it doesn't restrict your freedom like other software do.

  • Reply Thangpaul Mate December 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Did u change the brush opacity.

  • Reply First name Last name December 9, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Did you use krita software?

  • Reply Эльмира Шукурова December 11, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Where is Stan??!?!?

  • Reply matt December 14, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Terrible likeness, couldnt even tell who the caricature was of.

  • Reply Emari Noel December 14, 2017 at 12:23 am

    "But hard edges tend to stat hard"

  • Reply Amanda Finbow December 14, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Court you are so hot lol xx

  • Reply Mobius Loop August 7, 2018 at 4:33 am

    3:12 – 3:55 It is so brilliant how he created something so great out of practically nothing (no line work or anything). One day, i hope to attain this level of skill. Great video

  • Reply The pencil ninja January 27, 2019 at 2:21 pm


  • Reply ajallen212 February 5, 2019 at 1:09 am

    Oooof i understand this is more from the perspective of a traditional artist. but ow…watching someone use 1 layer, and not take advantage of a non-destructive workflow. it causes me pain. but dang your good at both art, and teaching man.

  • Reply Healoz March 16, 2019 at 8:59 am

    That squint tip changed my life lol thanks proko!

  • Reply That sad Bish April 10, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    You know what’s funny about his drawings
    They actually look like them

  • Reply Aleksandr N April 20, 2019 at 7:29 am

    Very funny caricatures😂😸👍

  • Reply MrQuaazga June 24, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    I am still trying to like digital art. I think it's stiff, and non-creative. Humans are being replaced in the work world. Art might be next. Who'll be blocking out the shapes? not us.

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