Painting the Portrait with Photoshop

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Digital Painting

Painting the Portrait
with Photoshop

© 2010 Gerald Jelitto

Painting the portrait
in Photoshop

This small manual explains my painting
technique with Photoshop. I hope you find
it helpful!
The main tools in Photoshop for digital
painting are:
- brush tool
- smudge tool
- eraser
- polygon lasso
You should also have a graph tablet. I’m
using a Wacom Intuos 3 and I’m very happy
with it! :-)

Let’s take a picture of a nice girl (I love
brown eyes and dark hair. Dark hair is
easier to paint... :-))
At first, I create outlines with a small red
brush. I think I don’t have to tell you much
about that. Just create a new layer above
the picture and reduce the transparency
of the original picture to... whatever you

Creating the basics:

I always start to paint the face. For this I
use a big round and very soft brush. My
standard colors are:

Red comes later on:
A natural skin color has also red tones, but
for this I use a separate layer with a darker
red and a soft light filter.
Basic brush settings:
For the basic shapes I use the big soft brush
(Lighting brush, 300px) by Dan LuVisi. Just
as you can see in the screen.
I start with 100% opacity - so the layer has
no transparency anymore. I start with a
very bright color.
If the basic shape is done I reduce opacity
to 5 - 20%, flow to 20% and use a darker
skin color.
Small opacity and small flow provides a
very smooth gradient.

By the way: As a beginner I would not start
with curly hair and blond hair.


Before we start I have to tell you that I’m
using a lot of custom brushes. The best
brushes I’ve ever found are created by Dan
LuVisi. They helped me a lot to improve my
skills. You can download them here:

For the deviantArtists: Please FAV the brush
set if you use it!

Digital Painting - Painting the Portrait

© 2010 Gerald Jelitto

A few minutes are gone and I have a basic
profile. Every part of the face is included
but very abstract at the moment. The face
looks a bit dark but I use very bright colors
only at the end of my painting.
At this time I still use the same soft brush
but with a smaller radius.
Zoom out!!!
It’s important to view your work from a
distance. Never work all the time with
200% magnification! You want to lighten up
the nose at 200% magnification and think
“well, looks great!“ but if you zoom out it
could look terrible because the bright nose
doesn’t fit to the rest of your painting.

1© 2010 Gerald Jelitto
Painting the Portrait
with Photoshop
Digital Painting
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