Considering the Result First

The painting we will create is a traditional portrait, where the likeness of the model is the primary consideration. Unlike a traditionally painted oil portrait, where it's necessary to wait for paint to dry to build up a rich surface, the digital painter does not have to worry about wet paint. One of the benefits of working digitally is the speed at which it's possible to create a painting without waiting on materials. The artist can o paint, repaint, and overpaint any area at any time as much as necessary to make corrections or change direction entirely.

This tutorial shows you how to use various features found in Painter X to create a painting that imitates the rich and textured surface expected if painting the portrait using oil paint. While it is not an exhaustive demonstration of every technique available in the program, it is extensive in the number of methods shown. We will use different techniques to paint the background, fabric, hair, and flesh.

When we begin painting on the computer, we must first consider the final use of the painting and set up the canvas space accordingly. If the image will be used for print, we need to keep in mind the dpi (dots per inch) resolution of the image. While dpi is not important to the computer, it is critical to the printer, and we should set it accordingly to 300. If the plan is to display the image onscreen only, we can leave the dpi at the default setting of somewhere between 72 and 96.

Often, it is best to start with an image that is smaller than the intended final output. Starting small speeds up much of the early work, where details are not important. However, this digital painting technique relies on some early steps involving the use of texture so, in this case, it is better to begin working with the image at its final size. My initial size settings for this tutorial are about 3,000 pixels in each dimension.

Note: All the textures, patterns, and brushes that were used to create the painting are available for download at

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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