A Digital Painting Process


Here I will go through step by step my process for making a piece of digital art. This is a very simple example, using a screenshot from CAVE in Unity as a base for me to paint over in Adobe Photoshop.


  1. Here is the base image screenshot out of Unity. The image can come from any 3D program with a renderer – in the past I’ve used Sketchup/Vray, Maya/Arnold, or Cinema 4D/Corona.  Lately I’ve been using Unity, which makes the process much faster because it’s real time. For the base image, I’m focusing on composition, lighting and story. It doesn’t need to be perfect, because almost all of it will be covered over. 2.  Here I’ve cropped the image, and increased its brightness levels

3. I don’t want the audience members in the image, so I’ve painted them over using the stamp brush.

4. The screenshot I captured didn’t have fire, so I added fire to the scene and took another screenshot, cropping out the fire.

5. Here is the fire added.

6. Now is where I start having fun. Using a mixer brush that mimics oil paint, I paint over the image. I have a background in traditional painting (the ones that come in tubes), so I try to mimic the behavior of real paint the best I can by blending edges together and giving the image a handmade feel.

7. Here it is painted over. I try to cover every inch, making sure everything looks like it was made with a brush stroke. I’m almost done, but there are a few more steps to give it finishing touches.

8. I go back to the original base image, and do a line drawing filter. I then put this over the painted image, with a multiply layer. After I paint the image, I lose some of it’s definition and form. Doing a line drawing gives me a pencil stroke feel, and sharpens the forms.

9. Next, I add in the cave paintings (made by Angela Yu), and turn down the transparency of the layer to 50 percent.

10. I feel the image looks too smooth and digital, so I add an alpha layer of texture brush strokes over the image.

11. Here it is with the texture applied, and the cave paintings in the background. Almost done! But I feel it’s missing something…

12. I add two dabs of paint in her eyes to reflect the glow of the fire. I think this will ground her in the scene.


Here we have our finished painting! Hope you enjoyed and will try it yourself sometime!



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