Aaron Blaise: My 6 Tips For Digital Painting!

6 Tips For Digital Painting

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Hi everyone, my name is Aaron Blaise, and I’m here to talk about my process for digital painting. Over the years, I’ve developed a method that works well for me, and I want to share it with you. In this article, I’ll take you through the six steps I follow for every digital painting I create. Let’s get started!

Step One: Rough Sketch

The first step in my process is creating a rough sketch. I like to keep things loose and quick at this stage. My goal is to capture the basic shapes and forms of the subject, without getting too bogged down in the details. I use a digital tablet and stylus to create my sketches, but you can use whatever method works best for you.

Step Two: Refined Drawings

Once I’m happy with the rough sketch, I move on to the refined drawing. This is where I start to refine the details and add more complexity to the image. I spend more time on this stage, and I try to make sure everything is in proportion and that the anatomy and perspective are accurate. This stage is all about laying a solid foundation for the rest of the painting.

I might also using shading to start to think about the lighting and shadows, which will be important in the later stages of the painting.

Step Three: Local Color

After the refined sketch, I move on to the local color stage. This is where I lay down the base colors for the subject. I try to match the colors as closely as possible to the subject I’m painting. I use a separate layer for this, so I can easily make changes if needed.

I use this stage to establish the character’s color palette and to make sure that everything is consistent and harmonious.

Step Four: Shadows

Now it’s time to add some depth and dimension to the painting by adding shadows. This is where digital painting really shines, because you can change the blend mode of your layer to multiply, which creates a shadowy feel over the base colors. I like to keep my shadows warm, to avoid a grayed-out look. I think about where the light source is coming from and where shadows would naturally fall on the subject. I add shadows on a separate layer, so I can easily adjust them later if needed.

Step Five: Light & Highlights

Once the shadows are in place, it’s time to add light. I create a new layer on top of the shadows layer and set the blend mode to overlay. This creates a lighting effect that brightens up the areas that are hit by light. I keep the lighting warm to match the shadows, and I think about where the light would naturally fall on the subject. This step really makes the painting come alive and pop.

This is where I tend to start to play around with the color temperature to create a more dynamic lighting effect. Oftentimes, I also use this stage to add some reflected light to the character’s eyes or other surfaces, which can help to sell the realism of the piece.

Step Six: Refining Details

The final step in my process is refining the details. This is where I add all the finishing touches, like texture, highlights, and color adjustments. I create a new layer on top of all the other layers and start adding in the small details that bring the painting to life. I pay attention to the subtle details that make the subject look more realistic, like fur texture and reflections in the eyes. This step really allows me to make the painting my own and add my personal style to the piece.

And there you have it! These are the six steps I follow for every digital painting I create. I hope you found this helpful and that it inspires you to try out digital painting for yourself. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and experiment with different techniques. Happy painting!

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“I was trained by Aaron Blaise. Aaron is Awesome!”

– Byron Howard (Director: “Zootopia”, “Tangled”, “Bolt”)