Five Things I Do While Painting in Photoshop

Making little vids about my process has been super helpful for me to understand my shit and get better. Maybe it can be for you as well? Below I elaborate on my minute vid posted originally in my Instagram feed.

Set Up

I know a lot of people who like to save a million versions of separate layers of things. I guess you could call me a minimalist because I cannot be bothered to hold on to the past. In this file I have merged the grey-scale drawing into one single layer. Next I create two layers for color. One has the Multiply blend mode activated and the other is in the Overlay blend mode. From there I play around with the color until I get what I like—just like IRL painting. Starting off gradually I eventually get super detailed but I haven't agonized over every choice made in the drawing.

As I go I combine the layers using the best trick ever. Hold down "ctrl", "alt", "shift", and "E" (I dunno what this is on a Mac—sorrrrryyyyy). All of your layers will be merged into a single layer NO MATTER WHAT BLEND MODE THEY ARE IN. Here is the full scoop on this tip from Photoshop Essentials. I use this trick all. Damn. DAY.


Queen of Trees

The head of the spiritual and creative suite of trees, the Queen has balanced passion and spiritual energy to run a well oiled creative machine. She's the fire that burns but not at both ends.

The Goal

The rest of the image is built off of the basics I lay down early. I can add things and make adjustments but if the foundation sucks then the image is garbage and I'm left tinkering with something that can't be saved.


When I was learning how to paint in Photoshop I heard a lot about Kyle Webster on Insta and at Adobe Max and basically any-fucking-where anyone talks about a damn Photoshop brush that isn't mentioning Syd Weiler. I impulse bought a mega pack (and sixteen million other packs) of his before Adobe brought him on board (like... right before it came with your Adobe CC subscription).

I now use two of those brushes (yeah I know). Both are from the PaintBox. The first is "Big Wide Softy" which is super bitchin' for blending and building trees and clouds as fast as humanly possible. The other is Bristle 3 for drawing and painting things out. Otherwise, I'm using the lasso tool and paint bucket or shaping things with the smudge and eraser tools.

For me, finding the right brushes was similar to finding a favorite medium in the real world. We each draw differently in the same way that we all have different handwriting. Play around with things and go from there—and don't spend a million dollars on a ton of things you will likely never use.

The View

Go to "Window" > "Arrange" and at the bottom of the menu select "New Window for {blah blah file}". Then go back to "Arrange" and select the view that works best for you (I do 2-vertical). That way you can have a bird's eye view of your work while you are also zoomed in real close. If both windows are rotating at the same time there's a box you can uncheck "Rotate All Windows"  in the toolbar when Rotate function is active.

Take one thing off

I've started the use the Olly Moss trick of putting your "finished" WIP on your phone screen. When you look at it randomly during the day you will see what is so wrong or so right, so fast...

Music "Kawaii" by Frequency Decree from Nul Tiel Records, used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License