Digital Painting for Concept Artists & Illustrators

Join The Magic Box to learn every workflow, technique and time-saver I used to create this painting: digital painting tutorials are all about the “digital” and not at all about the “painting.”

They tell you which button to click and demonstrate cool, digital tricks but they don’t help you create believable worlds and characters.

“Digital” is just a synonym for “convenience.”

The power is in the painting.

Concept artists and illustrators want to create worlds and characters, tell stories with pictures, find meaning in ideas, and make emotional connections with an audience.

To be fair, this page could really benefit from a little more “step-by-step.”

…so I’m working on that.

But for now, if you’re looking for something deeper, more personal and challenging, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Hudson River Painters
Vs. The Texture Monster

This is the most unique (and the most epic) tutorial I’ve ever recorded.

With an in-depth look at the work of The Hudson River Painters, we discover some ancient techniques that can really enhance the emotional impact when applied to our digital paintings.

It is the closest thing to an advanced painting course that I offer on this site.

Hudson River School Rendering & Texture Tutorial by Chris Oatley

Topics covered in the article, video and accompanying PDF guide:

  • Three, ancient techniques for achieving a high level of finish (rendering) in your paintings.
  • How to control texture and avoid one of the most common digital painting pitfalls.
  • Art History lesson that will inspire you to get all epic with your paintings.
  • FREE Downloadable PDF Guide to share, print, load onto your mobile device, etc…

‘Animal Farm’ Color Comp Demo

The Magic Box: Everything I Know About Digital Painting In Photoshop is the newest course from The Oatley Academy.

You’ll find a link to view free sample lesson on the course enrollment page.

In the video, I demonstrate some of the techniques and thought processes I use to control color in my digital paintings.

This lesson is unique in that it focuses on WHY I made certain creative decisions rather than HOW I achieve the various painting effects.

'Animal Farm' Color Comp Demo

Easier Edge Control For Digital Painters

Detail of 'Head Of A Capri Girl' by Sargent

Interpretive edges are one of the most appealing and beautiful aspects of oil painting and watercolor techniques.

In this two-part series, I’ll show you how to set up a custom rotation control for your Photoshop Brushes so you can quickly and smoothly change the brush angle as you’re painting.

‘My Sister, The Freak’ Pin-Up

This is a 2-part series featuring a time-lapse recording of the entire process for a painterly illustration done completely in Photoshop…

"My Sister, The Freak" Digital Painting Demo by Chris Oatley

Perfecting Your Drawing With Photoshop Warp
& Merging Different Styles (Part One):

  • Changing and fixing line art with the Photoshop Warp & Free Transform Tools.
  • Building up painterly, textured surfaces in a digital painting.
  • Merging two different illustration styles into one, new style.

Becoming A More Confident Painter
& Tricks With The Lasso Tool (Part Two):

  • Softening/ sharpening edges by combining the Gradient & Lasso Tools in Photoshop.
  • Planning each brush stroke & painting with focus.
  • Welcome accidents and spontaneity in your paintings.

Download My Free Photo Textures

Have you checked out my collection of custom, high-res textures?

Chris Oatley's Collection of High Resolution Textures for Digital Painting

Over the past few years my wife Angie and I have been creating my own library of high resolution textures for Digital Painting.

…and now I’m making them available, as a free download, for you, one set at a time.

Each set of huge, free textures has an accompanying blog post where I share tips for gathering and controlling textures in your digital painting process.

Recent Collections: Wood | Brick & Stone | Concrete

Make A Beautiful Mess

Photoshop Scatter Brush Tutorial by Chris Oatley

Texture can infuse your art with a sense of humanity and increase the connection between your illustrated, visual stories and your audience.

This collection of five inspiring tutorials will show you how to:

  • Use real paint to make digital brushes (I know. Crazy, right?)
  • Start your painting with a textured canvas effect.
  • Give your digital brush a mind of it’s own so it can give you new inspiration, ideas and approaches.

I should also mention that the Scatter Brush Tutorial demonstrates how I use Photoshop to create the stylized, texture brushes that are available as part of my FREE Digital Painting Kit!

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Digital Painting + Character Design:

The next three tutorials are mostly about character design, but they do cover some of my favorite aspects of digital painting.

The early stages of my character design process often involves loose, sketchy paintings. In learning how other artists in the animation industry tend to work, I’ve gathered that I’m unique in that way.

I think you’ll find inspiration and more than one new approach in these videos…

The Calling Of The Alien Janitor

"Alien Janitor" Character Design Tutorial by Chris Oatley

While the first part of my ‘Alien Janitor’ series isn’t quite a tutorial, it does provide some necessary (and amusing, if I do say so myself) background information about the painting.  And it will challenge you to surprise your audience every time you create a new concept art painting or illustration.

Plus, it’s a rare opportunity to watch me draw!  (I usually work out my drawings the old fashioned way and, thus, there is usually no screen recording to share.)

The second part goes into greater depth with an explanation of my digital painting techniques and personal opinions about the medium. I close with some practical advice about Photoshop Brushes.

Wizard Of Oz: Cowardly Lion

Wizard Of Oz: 'Cowardly Lion' Character Design Tutorial by Chris Oatley

After sharing a personal story about how much I love ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ and The Cowardly Lion in particular, I talk about my approach to character design, how I’m always attempting to create something new and surprising despite the impossibility of achieving that every time.

I share the struggle of getting my drawing and painting to synthesize and I demonstrate a technique for painting fur and hair that won’t drive you crazy.

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