“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao-tzu

I have decided to turn my piece entitled “Aloha, Welcome to Big Kahuna’s Kite Shop” into a digital painting.  When I begin this process, I first try to create the foundation that serves as the basis of an overall effect.  I tend to keep things at this stage very simple and graphic.  It is important not to noodle away  and render every little detail.  There is time for that ahead.

There are several other Photoshop tricks I employ at this stage of my digital painting process.  One of my favorites and most useful is to put my drawing on the top layer and to toggle on multiply mode on that layer.  I then proceed to paint underneath that layer so that the drawing stays intact while color and value will come through the sketch from underneath.

If I want the piece to be line-driven, I paint below the original sketch layer.  If it is shape driven, I’ll paint above it.  This might not make sense if you’d never used Photoshop, but for those who are interested, give it a try.

In the next step, I give the painting a medium value base layer underneath the drawing.  Then with the lasso tool, I select certain areas in the foreground, middle ground, and background and copy from that medium value layer and paste them above the medium value, but below the drawing.  I use the brightness and contrast tool and play with the slider to find the right value on the different layers.  It is quick and easy.  It all depends on what mood or type of peice your going for.

So far in this piece the only tools I’ve used are the lasso tool, a little bit of the the brush, the masking tool and gaussian blur.  I use the masking tool and gaussian blur to create a gradient effect in the sky.  Using the gaussian blur with masking tool is far superior to the gradient tool and it affords much more control.

I always create a tonal study before I venture into color.  It is easier for my eye to see the right values that way.

I thought it would be interesting for you to see some of this step by step work I do in my digital painting.  You should see more steps in the following weeks so stay tuned.