Video Notes: Painting a Hero

Painting a Hero video notes

Here is a further explanation for the process behind my Hero video I posted earlier. I was specifically trying to make a more traditional image with this piece. My digital process here mimics how I make an oil painting.

To start, you’ll notice I have my reference in a separate window off to the side.

Hero 1

I start by creating my drawing. It’s on a separate layer. I usually scan in a sketch because it is easier to draw on a piece of paper than it is to draw on the computer, but for this painting I started and finished with software.

Hero 2

The beauty of drawing on the computer is that you can fix things more easily. Using the lasso tool, I’ve selected my eye and moved, rotated, and resized it. Eventually I erased them and redrew them anyway. Figures.

Hero 3

I tended to draw the face a little too long. You’ll notice that I “squash” it a few times with the transform tool.

Hero 4

Now with the painting…

I began by coloring my background layer. Then I created a new layer on top of my drawing and started to lightly block in some color.

Hero 5

After I created my initial block-in, I created a new layer and started putting in some details.

Hero 6

At one point, I flip the painting horizontally. This trick will help you see your drawing mistakes very quickly. In this instance, the shape of the hair was a little off, and my eyebrow was a little skewed. Once I was done fixing my mistakes, I flipped it right back.

Hero 7

While I was painting, I opened a new window and kept it off to the side. This way, I can see my painting close-up and far away at the same time. You can do this by going to Window–>Arrange–>New Window for [your file]. When I was finished painting, I put in some adjustment layers to help with the contrast.

Hero 8

Here’s the finished painting and close-up look at the eye.

Final Hero Painting Hero detail

8 thoughts on “Video Notes: Painting a Hero

  1. skip wiley

    Great video, painting, notes, and TV show! The full-screen movie and larger size are definite benefits. If you don’t mind some questions:

    1- what resolution was this image (your painting)? Is there a certain min or max resolution size below/above which not much difference is made? Any general recommendations?

    2- Does the image size effect the brush library you use at all? For instance, wouldn’t a 1px brush be very small in a large resolution image? When outlining/sketching, is brush size and opacity a matter of personal preference?

    3- did you use any different blending modes here? (multiply, doge, burn, overlay, screen, etc). From the video it looks like you were in “normal” the entire time. At my early stage in learning Photoshop, I’m trying to find the balance between when these tools are absolutely necessary and when they’re superfluous. I suppose practice and experimentation is the best answer, as always.


  2. Dani Post author

    Here’s some answers to your questions, Skip:

    1 – There are two size attributes to keep in mind when you make a digital painting — your resolution (this painting is 300 ppi) and the actual canvas size (mine is 6×8 inches). The length and width of your painting just depends on what size you want the image to be; for resolution, you will want to stick to 300 ppi to maintain good print quality. For a painting like this, 300-600 ppi is usually plenty.

    2 – Yes, indeed, your brush size will look different depending on the resolution of the picture. Your brush size and opacity depends on what effect you’re looking for. For a pencil-like sketch brush on a 300 ppi image, a brush size of 10-20 px would probably work best. You should also change the Shape Dynamics and Opacity settings so they are affected by your pen pressure.

    3 – For this particular painting, all of my layers were in Normal mode. It was just straight painting.

    Thanks for the comment. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  3. skip wiley

    Thanks for the response. Your first answer cleared up a huge misunderstanding I had… I just discovered my resolution (dpi) had been set at 72 this whole time. The difference is striking. I thought it was all about canvas size!

  4. Amy

    This is a wonderful image! I haven’t even looked at the video, but his face is beautifully done. I’m going to blog it.

  5. Sherry

    Dani once again you have taught me an important feature in Photoshop. I had no idea you could have the illustration large to work on, but in another window to view it smaller. A

    I used to love to use colored paper when I did pastels. Starting with a color background is a great idea! Incredible information and an incredible drawing!

  6. Muna

    wow. i’m no artist, far from it actually.. i just wanted to say that you’ve got some talent. dude, your work is AWESOME. i especially like this one. i’ve even printed it out on semi-glossy paper and stuck it on my wall :) absolutely love it,
    keep it up,
    muna xx

  7. John

    Hi your painting is awesome.. just one questions, is there a guide on this website that guides us on the usage of different brushes? Could you show us which brushes u used in this work?

    Thanks and good job!

  8. Dani Post author

    John – There are several. On the home page, browse through the list of articles under “Digital How-to.” You can also use the Categories list. They are probably all listed under Adobe Photoshop.

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