Category Archives: Tutorials

Not Your Typical Round Brush

Brush Settings

Reader Dan recently emailed me with this:

[I] think it would be a great idea to share some of your discoveries in the realm of brushes. I have been experimenting since I got my Wacom but still would love to hear what you have to say about things like opacity, flow, jitter…

So, in this tutorial, I’m going to give you a tour of the brush palette and some other simple brush settings. Working with just the standard round brush, I’ll show you how a few little tweaks can help get a more natural feel in your digital artwork.

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Scanners, Part 3: Putting the Pieces Together

Scanners, Part 3: Putting the Pieces Together

If you are going through the process of digitizing your traditional paintings, you have undoubtedly noticed that not all of your artwork fits onto the standard 8.5″x11.7″ glass of your flatbed scanner. Have no fear! With a few minor Photoshop tips, stitching together your large paintings doesn’t have to be such a hassle.

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Wacom Tablets: How to Get Started

Wacom tablets

If you are a painter, and you are trying to transition to the computer, it will be necessary for you to get a tablet. It’s the best way to translate your traditional skills to the digital world. A mouse will simply not do it for you.

When it comes to digital drawing tablets, Wacom is pretty much the authority. If you are just starting out and are trying to decide which tablet to buy, here’s a quick guide to the products they provide and how to get started once you’ve bought one.

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Make Your Own Photoshop Brushes

Create a Custom Brush

Creating your own custom brush is really quite easy:

  1. Open an image, any image.
  2. Select all or part of the image.
  3. Go to Edit –> Define Brush Preset.
  4. Voila! New brush…

You can use anything from scanned textures, photographs, or drawings to make new brushes. The real key to creating a brush is understanding how they work and finding the right settings. In this tutorial, I’ll give you a few tips and show you how to create some specific brushes to get you started.

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Bonus Tutorial on Amateur Illustrator

Layers Tutorial

In my daily browsing, I occasionally stumble across other websites that share the same enthusiasm for art, illustration, and learning that I try to encompass here on

One of these great sites is It is packed with resources for illustrators and students of illustration, including tutorials, interviews with professional artists, and forums.

If you register on the site, you can also post your own gallery of artwork for other users to rate and comment on. And the best part is that you can do all of this for free!

I was honored to get the opportunity to collaborate with Amateur Illustrator recently. In an effort to bring great content to both of our audiences, I have written a tutorial that will be shown exclusively on their site. You can find it here:

Layer Tricks for Digital Painting

This tutorial explains some of the various parts of the Layers palette in Photoshop. Some ideas include:

  • How to use layer effects, such as drop shadows, bevel/emboss, and glows, to add some additional interest to your painting.
  • How to use layer masks to edit and erase objects, without actually deleting them.
  • An explanation of all those blending modes (Multiply, Overlay, etc.). I’ll cover what exactly they are doing and some good ideas for using them in your painting.

So while you are checking it out, be sure to take a look around. I guarantee it will be worth your while.

Go there now –>

Creating Line Drawings in Adobe Illustrator

One Grumpy Dude

This is one grumpy dude. He was created in Adobe Illustrator with the brush tool. I don’t use the program a lot, but when it comes to “inking” my drawings, I find it very useful. Here’s an in-depth look into the making of this cute little grandpa guy including:

  • How to place a sketch into a new document
  • Some digital drawing tips
  • How to fix little mistakes after you’ve drawn your stroke
  • Ways to finish and color your drawing

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Create a Watercolor Painting in Photoshop

Create a Watercolor Painting in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to recreate the look and feel of a watercolor painting on the computer. Some topics include:

  • How to create a textured “paper”
  • Which textures work best
  • What settings to use for your brushes
  • Specific brushes to use

Every tool I use is included within Photoshop CS itself. With these few simple tips, you can start creating your own natural looking watercolor paintings with all the advantages that the digital world has to offer.

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Make Your Move to Photoshop CS3 Easier

As many of you might know, Adobe recently came out with a new public beta version of Adobe Photoshop (If you haven’t, check it out here). Be sure to download a copy for yourself and give it a test run.

My CS3 Woes
I was so excited to hear about CS3 that I immediately went to get a copy. I installed it, launched it, and opened up one of my unfinished illustrations. I was ready to get to work and start playing with my new toy. But then I quickly realized some problems: all of the brushes, textures, and other tool presets that I spent hours getting just right were not available; all of the preferences that I had set in Photoshop CS were now set to “default” again in CS3; and I had to dig to find some of the palettes that I use frequently while I’m painting. I was now set with the arduous task or resetting all of my preferences, presets, and workspaces so I could get down to painting. In doing so, I have come up with this list that will hopefully make it easier for both me and you in the future.

Prepare for CS3 Now
These tips can be applied to any version you may be installing, not just CS3. Maybe your moving to a new computer, or your co-worker just messed around with your palettes while your weren’t looking. Whatever the case, by going through this small checklist, you can be sure that your transition will go as smoothly and easily as possible. And if you do upgrade when the official version of CS3 is released in 2007, you won’t have to worry about wasting precious painting time by configuring your program. For someone like me who uses this software every day as a means to make a living, this is key.

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Using Masks to Create a Spot Illustration

Spot illustrations, or vignettes, are usually not contained in the familiar rectangle. Unfortunately, that’s the only shape of canvas you can get in Photoshop. However, if you define the shape of your work area before you begin by using a layer mask, you won’t have to worry about “coloring outside the lines” while you are creating your painting.

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Texture: How to Make Better Art with Jelly Beans

Digital art is often thought of as flat or mechanical, but textures can quickly create more interest and depth. Here, I will talk about how to make your own textures and various ways that you can use them in Photoshop. This is an important step towards creating more painterly work in the digital world. I’ve also included some free hi-res textures for you to download and use in your artwork.

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Get the Most Out of Your Line Drawing

Before I went to college, the only digital art I produced were little scribbles I made with my mouse in Microsoft Paint. Then, in my second semester, I took a little class called “Introduction to Computer Imaging” where I was first introduced to Photoshop. One of the first things I learned in that class was how to scan and color a drawing. I was absolutely fascinated with the idea of being able to put my drawing on its own layer and be able to color it without worrying about ruining it.

My drawings are still an integral part of my digital paintings. Whether it is a clean ink line or a rough sketch, it can be an important tool and a deciding factor in the overall look of your painting. Here’s some tips on how to prepare and use your drawing when painting in Photoshop.

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