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50+ Free Digital Painting Tutorials For All Skill Levels

ResourcesDigital Painting Written by McKella Sawyer Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you buy something we get a small commission at no extra cost to you(learn more)

The best way to learn a new skill is studying someone else.

This is especially true for art because artists can be very visual people.

So video tutorials are a great way to learn digital painting, and most accomplished digital artists will tell you they’ve learned a lot watching others, or just watching YouTube videos.

If you wanna get into digital painting or just improve your existing skillset then these tutorials will definitely help. Whether you’re a seasoned pro, looking to go pro, or just toying with digital painting in your free time, I guarantee you’ll find something in this list that’ll help.

Now if you want some paid options check out our list of premium courses on digital painting. Those are much more detailed than free tutorials, but they also come with a price tag. Yet if you’re a serious artist pushing your skills then premium courses may offer a bit more.

One note before starting: You’ll get the most out of these tutorials if you already have a brief working knowledge of drawing and painting. Make sure to practice drawing on your own time and study the fundamentals like light, perspective, and form. These fundamental skills teach you so much that will apply directly to digital painting.

Beginner Tutorials

If you’re brand new to digital art, have no idea how to use painting programs, or if you don’t have your equipment yet and aren’t sure what to get, start with these videos to learn the basics on painting software and how to use your tools.

Once you’ve got your hardware, software, and a basic understanding of your tools, these videos can also help you learn the absolute fundamentals of digital drawing & painting.

Beginner’s Guide to Become a Digital Artist

It takes hard work to become an artist and start producing great work.

But digital art can be a tad easier if you have the right workflow. This guide gives you a rundown of equipment and software you might want to look at as a beginning digital artist.

This includes features you want to look for, taking both cost and quality into account.

The artist also gets into tips for building artistic skills quickly based on her own experience.

 

Intro To Painting in Photoshop

This video introduces Photoshop brushes and how to use them so you can get an idea of how to achieve the same look you could with actual brushes.

Short and to the point, an easy watch and a great beginning place for newbies.

 

10 Tips For Beginner Digital Artists

So this video is meant for beginners, but these tips are good for more experienced artists too.

Generally this list of 10 awesome tips can help you gain confidence and get comfortable with digital painting.

By the end of the video you’ll have some great ideas to improve your workflow and help you understand what’s required to master the art of painting.

 

Crash Course: Using Color

This is a quick intro to using the color tools in Photoshop.

If you’re brand new to Photoshop this is a great tutorial to get the hang of working with colors and mixing colors on your own.

 

Digital Painting: Simple Method For Beginners

Need a way to dive into painting fast?

This video offers a quick coloring method using a large brush and flat colors to build up forms before you even think about shading. And then it gets into blending once you have color and composition figured out. It also talks about keyboard shortcuts for picking colors.

Overall a very nice deep dive into painting for the novice digital painter.

 

Portrait Painting Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve never done a digital portrait before you may feel a bit intimidated. But give this video tutorial a try.

It walks you through the entire process of creating a digital portrait from the basic sketch to the final details.

It does involve tracing because it’s meant as a practice for painting rather than drawing. And this isn’t a complete guide to portraits, but rather a guide on painting with portrait exercises.

 

Basics of Digital Art

Much of this video centers around the discussion of digital art, but it gets into a tutorial around the 3 minute mark.

It’s more of a demo than a tutorial but the artist explains what he’s doing and what tools he’s using as he goes along.

It’s really cool to just sit and watch the character take form.

 

Basic Tips & Digital Tutorial

This is a basic Photoshop tutorial to help you get the hang of color, smudging, and blending.

You’ll want to have a tablet to get started and preferably a display tablet if you’re getting into complex painting.

But even if you need a regular non-display tablet that should work just fine.

 

Basic Rendering Methods

Here’s a basic tutorial for Photoshop’s many tools to draw and render artwork.

This will guide you through an entire method of sketching, outlining, and finally painting a creature design. All within Photoshop and all with some basic rendering techniques anyone can learn.

 

Illustration in Photoshop

Here’s a fun tutorial from veteran Disney artist Aaron Blaise.

It’s very thorough and beginner-friendly, and it covers the basics of getting started in Photoshop for illustration.

You’ll learn about the different tools, navigation, menu items, layers, and shading.

 

Painting Tips and Tricks – Narrated

Need a sped-up version of a full digital painting?

Well this video has you covered with full narration to boot.

The artist uses a popular technique of starting with flat gray and adding shadows and highlights to build up forms. This is something you can copy in your own work to get similar results.

 

Opacity vs. Flow

Opacity and flow are two different variables you can play with to get different effects with a single brush.

Here’s how to work with different variations on these two and how to swap them between brushes.

 

Coloring Over Line Drawings

Painting digitally will take time to learn. But it helps a lot if you already have a line drawing.

In this video you’ll learn how to paint over a sketch without losing your lines. It also talks about color, lighting, and shading.

An overall great watch for anyone trying to pick up color ideas.

 

How To Blend Colors

So here’s a really thorough look into Photoshop brushes, what they can do, and how to adjust them.

You’ll learn how to use textures to change the effects of brushes, and also which brushes and adjustments work really well for portraits in particular.

You’ll also find out how to use brushes to make your colors blend together smoothly, or keep your work choppy and painterly. Whichever you prefer!

 

Landscape Painting Tips

Landscapes are a huge part of digital art and concept art. They’re the lifeblood of game design and popular with animation, illustration, or just general fan art.

In this video you’ll pick up some basic tips to painting gorgeous landscapes from scratch.

You’ll learn how to create landscapes quickly by using bigger brushes to cover a large area, plus how to blend areas together so they seem realistic.

 

Clean Brushwork

If you’re having trouble getting smooth coverage rather than lots of visible brush strokes, watch this video.

It’s fine to have textured and painterly strokes if that’s what you’re going for. But if you’re looking to clean up your brushwork this video will show you how.

 

Basics of Blending

Try this blending tutorial for using brushes and pressure to create some nice effects on a drawing tablet.

You’ll learn to blend smoothly and select colors to blend with based on your piece.

Blending is an art that can take a while to master but this video will prove incredibly useful to getting you started.

 

How To Color Fast & Easy

In this video you’ll learn simple techniques to avoid coloring over your lines while keeping true to the original sketch.

You’ll also find out how to choose colors for your base, shadows, and highlights.

The artist will show you how to quickly fill large areas, how to use transparency to work quicker, how to keep your layers organized, and how to quickly shade and highlight larger areas.

 

Paint Basic Foliage

Try this tutorial for creating leaves and foliage on trees without drawing each individual leaf. Because how often have you fallen into that trap? (If you’re like most artists, the answer is “way too often.”)

The artist takes a good, close look at colors, brushes, and their capabilities when painting foliage.

A nice intro for anyone working with landscapes or anyone looking to practice some digital still life paintings.

 

Simple Digital Painting

This demonstration of painting a character face is a good one to watch once you have a grip on how the Photoshop tools work and where they’re located.

This will give you some more practice and understanding of coloring and shading in Photoshop.

Not to mention a few basic topics detailing color theory for art.

 

Intermediate Tutorials

When you’ve got the basics of digital painting down pat, try kicking it up a notch with these intermediate demos and video tutorials.

Small note: beginners can definitely still watch these to pick up some tricks but they might be tougher to follow along if you’re a total newbie to painting in software.

 

Elephant Digital Painting

Here’s an intermediate-level tutorial from Disney animator Aaron Blaise, in which he uses reference images as inspiration for an original drawing.

This video really shows what Photoshop is capable of and how to use the tools to enhance your vision of your art in ways that physical tools can’t.

You’ll also learn how to keep sketches organized when you’re just figuring out what to draw and how to draw it, and this video really dives into texturing and rendering details like a pro.

This is a long one, but it’s very thorough and worth a watch. You’ll learn a ton!

 

Rock Painting Tutorial

Rocks are something you’re going to have to paint a lot as an artist, especially if you’ll be drawing landscapes. And they’re surprisingly tricky to paint.

This is a great tutorial showing you how to sketch, color, and shade different types of rocks for your own digital paintings.

And this is something you can revisit many times to ingrain these skills into your brain.

 

Painting Skin Tones

Try this tutorial for improving your skin tones and textures. There’s a lot to it!

This artist takes you from start to finish by beginning with a mid-tone background, adjusting for transparency, and choosing the correct colors for shading and highlights.

Even if you aren’t using traditional skin tones, it’s still important to pick the correct colors for any human or animal you paint.

 

Stylized Portrait

Getting back onto skin tones we have this nice stylized portrait tutorial with plenty of great tips for artists.

Here you’ll learn about picking colors for skin tones, balancing warm and cool colors, using brushes and pressure to get the effects you want, and creating dramatic lighting in portraits with minimal colors.

 

Paint Hair & Fur

On a similar topic we also have fur to worry about with animal creatures. Fur is a lot tougher to paint than skin, but once you get it down you’ll never forget.

With this tutorial you learn how to handle light and shadow when drawing hair and fur, along with which brushes to choose and how to use those brushes to get the desired effects.

 

How I Make A Landscape

While this isn’t technically a step-by-step tutorial, it does still offer genuine value to artists.

This is a speedpaint video of a landscape painting with captions explaining what the artist is doing. It’s definitely a demo, not a tutorial, but you might learn some new tricks and shortcuts if you pay close attention.

 

How To Paint Better Textures

The team at Paintable created this awesome tutorial for painting realistic textures on objects made of wood or stone.

You’ll learn how to paint cracks, dents, divots on stone or, you know, a block of cheddar cheese or whatever the artist is painting.

You’ll work through a bunch of tools like texture brushes, the dropper tool, and some techniques for simply drawing textures on objects.

 

Painting Snow

Snow is surprisingly tricky to render. This is because the texture can vary a lot depending on the lighting, what’s underneath the snow, and tons of other factors.

With this video you get a close look at painting different kinds of snow with varying textures and colors.

Not too lengthy but well worth the watch. Especially if you’re working on some winter scenery.

 

Thumbnail Painting Process

A lot of artists like to do a few thumbnail drawings before they jump into their main piece, mostly because it helps them plan out their composition and color choices before they commit to a final composition.

This video demonstrates how to create thumbnails to figure out what you like before you start your main painting.

A very important process to learn for anyone getting into concept art or character design.

 

Value Sketching

This artist demonstrates values in a landscape piece with a focus on quick sketching.

Pretty interesting tutorial if you’re working to improve your value studies.

Getting proper lights and darks can be just as important, if not more important, than the color in your drawings. Value is a vital skill for both digital and traditional artwork. So this is a must-watch video in my book.

 

Lost Edges

One of the cool parts about digital painting is that you can have hard edges or soft edges on your objects.

And it’s a lot easier to do this digitally when you can CTRL+Z to re-try your brush strokes.

This video shows you how to work with softer edges without losing the form and teaches you a few strategies to practice on your own.

 

Shading With Light & Form

Creating realistic forms that pop off the screen is all about lighting and shape.

Watch this video to brush up on shading and how to use it when designing forms.

And if you want even more videos like this check out the CTRL+Paint channel on YouTube. Lots of great stuff there.

 

Rain Effect in Krita

Here’s how to quickly create a rain effect on a brand new layer without having to draw every little droplet.

Although the artist is using Krita here, the technique translates well into Photoshop and other digital painting programs.

Also if you’re getting into painting and you like Krita’s $0 price tag you may want to buckle down and master the software. For that I highly recommend this list of tutorials on Krita, all totally free just like the software itself.

 

Digital Sketching

This is more of a sketching demonstration than a digital art tutorial, but it’s still worth watching to see how the artist sets up their figures and selects their tools.

You also get to see how the finished piece comes together with many advanced workflows for Photoshop users.

Totaling almost 2 hours long: this video is massive.

But you will learn a bunch of little techniques if you watch closely or even follow along on your own with a second monitor.

 

Monster Cutie

Full creature tutorials are the best. You get to learn from scratch how to create a monster and how to design the entire concept start to finish.

That’s exactly what you find in this tutorial spanning just over an hour long.

Great exercise for aspiring creature designers and it’s perfect for digital painters who want some real-world exercises.

 

Advanced Tutorials

When you’re really comfortable with painting and you find yourself stagnating a bit, it’s time to start refining your skills and pushing your limits.

With these videos you’ll learn how professional artists perform more complex tasks and you’ll find full-length design tutorials from start to finish.

 

Knights of Baratheon

So this is technically a tutorial but you might enjoy just watching at first. Try to soak in everything this artist is doing, then go back and follow along.

Watch how he chooses colors, adjusts the composition, and even adjusts the focus on the view in this on-the-fly painting.

Also, he does this completely freehand. No base sketch. How cool is that?

 

Design Creatures From Scratch

It’s always smart to use a variety of reference photos to come up with new designs.

If you’ve never done this before then here’s a cool demonstration of an artist doing just that!

With a few different monochromatic creatures and a creative spirit throughout each stroke, this video will help you plan your design phase and teach you how to paint creatures with a purpose.

 

SAI Shading

Have you ever wanted to learn Paint Tool SAI? Or maybe you’ve heard of it, but you have no idea how it works.

Well check out this SAI tutorial to see how a professional artist learns to shade their digital artwork.

It doesn’t have any narration but it’s still easy enough to follow if you work alongside the video.

And if you’re serious about this software you might like our full list of Paint Tool SAI tutorials(all free!)

 

Painting Lips

Here’s a very thorough tutorial with everything you ever wanted to know about drawing and painting lips.

The artist talks about placement, shading, coloring, highlighting, and lots more while demonstrating on several different pairs of lips at different angles.

And if you’re looking for references maybe have a look at our lips gallery full of drawings & sketches from some very talented artists.

 

Painting Eyes

Just like the lip tutorial above, this video shows you how to draw eyes in great detail.

It all starts with placement which can be just as important as rendering the actual eyes! Then you’ll get into proportion, coloring, composition, angles, everything you need to know about painting lots of different kinds of eyes.

This may seem very basic as a topic, but the techniques you’ll learn here are more advanced. They’ll bring your digital work up to another level.

 

Painting The Eye (Quick)

Eyes are a super important feature that can make or break a portrait, so they deserve a tutorial of their own.

And if you look through YouTube you’ll find dozens of them.

But this video is a great place to get into the details without wasting too much time. Check it out and follow along to quickly paint a realistic eye that sparkles with life.

 

Painting An Iris

This is a deep dive into painting the iris of an eye. It follows on top of the previous video with a little more detail.

You probably won’t have to paint an isolated iris that often, but it’s good to take a really close look at how to do it so you understand how to simplify it later on.

This is all part of painting with realism and drawing ideas from life. A very important practice to follow even in digital art.

 

Line Art and Coloring

So you want to do cartooning but don’t know where to start. How about a professional artist painting a concept on YouTube?

This artist starts by creating a messy sketch, then traces it with solid dark lines and adds some basic colors.

The end result is very cartoony and perfect for a new comic strip. Plus with only 12 minutes in length almost anyone should be able to keep up and follow along.

 

WoW in Manga Studio 5

This is a start-to-finish narrated demo of creating a digital painting of a World of Warcraft character.

If you’re into concept art or game artbooks then you probably know the WoW concept artists are serious pros. This video follows that same style very well.

Watch closely to learn more about sketching your initial concept in Photoshop, coloring, shading, and rendering details to create a concept art masterpiece.

 

Painting Water

There are lots of different factors to think about when you’re rendering water such as color, translucency, texture, and reflections.

Painting water can also vary a lot depending on whether you’re drawing a night scene or a day scene. It also varies based on the location like a beach, ocean, puddle, pond, rough choppy water or smooth calm water, waterfalls, the list goes on but I’ll spare you.

And really this video covers it all anyways so give it a shot!

 

Stormy Sea Viking Ship

Here’s another really fun start-to-finish demonstration of painting a Viking ship on a rough, stormy sea.

You’ll learn a lot about texture, color, perspective, and creating water and wood textures by watching how the artist handles this piece.

It also uses some very dramatic lighting which ultimately comes down to artistic choice, but gives you a lot to work with.

 

Intro To Speed Painting

Everyone who wants to paint digitally eventually finds speed painters on YouTube. They’re so fun to watch and it’s crazy the skill level in these vids.

If you want to get into speed painting then you’ll love this video. It’s all about shortcuts, tips, and techniques to quickly create scenes in 30-60 minutes from start to finish.

This is definitely an advanced skill but it’s important because you’ll learn to quickly refine your brush strokes and come up with concepts in the moment. Very improvisational and very fun.

 

Advanced Photoshop Painting

There’s always more to learn when it comes to Photoshop.

And with this video you learn how to use layers to color quickly and add freehand color details with brushes.

It also has lots of good tips for lighting and making your drawings pop off the page.

 

Realistic Portrait – Bernie Sanders

Watch this artist paint a monochromatic portrait using lights and darks of Bernie Sanders in a very realistic fashion.

The artist pays very close attention to value and blending to create a realistic portrait, all digitally in Corel Painter.

The video also goes into some detail on creating hair with a line brush, rendering realistic skin, and using strategic blurring to create the final result.

 

Clouds & Atmosphere Painting

Clouds, fog, smoke, and mist. All of these features define atmosphere and they add to your landscapes with a sense of realism.

If you need to create more lifelike atmospheres check out this awesome tutorial.

It runs for just about 40 minutes and shares a lot of practical techniques you can slap onto your environment work.

 

Live Illustration Demo

This demo is a fun watch because the view pulls back from the actual screen to show the artist while she’s having a conversation with an interviewer.

It’s always fun to watch how another artist works and sometimes you can pick up little tidbits or behaviors that you might add into your workflow.

Granted this is a long demo at almost 2 hours total, but the workflow is really fun and you’ll likely enjoy the narration too.

Watching videos and other artists at work can do wonders for your skills, even if you don’t always follow along on your own.

You’ll still get lots of ideas, answers to questions, and tips that’ll help you along your path to becoming an accomplished digital painter.


Author: McKella Sawyer

McKella is an artist and freelance writer from Salt Lake City, Utah. When she isn't painting or writing for clients she loves to write fiction, travel, and explore the mountains near her home either on foot, horseback, or a mountain bike. You can view her art on Etsy and her writing services at TheCafeWordsmith.com.