The Painting Advantages of Digital vs Traditional

Learn some technical “how too” painting advantages of digital vs traditional.

Digital painting make changes easier and faster without altering the original artwork.


Photoshop Fine Art Painting.

 In this post I’ll give you detailed information to painting advantages using photoshop.Traditional changes may take longer and be quite extensive depending on what those adjustments are. This is part II of “The Advantage of Digital vs Traditional Painting”.

The Main Steps Involved

If using a traditional painting, preserving the original requires taking a good quality high resolution digital photo of the image for adjustments on Photoshop. If it’s a digital painting, it’s ready to go. Looking at our painting advantages.

  • Separate layers

    It’s best to paint items on their own layer if digitally done. If working with photoed images, duplicate and separate items to their individual layer. These painting advantages allow adjustments without affecting items you may not want affected.I begin by resizing my background glow which was larger than I needed. I do this three times in my video demo till I’m satisfied with the look.

  • Duplication and Resize

    I duplicate by hitting “command (Mac) or ctrl (pc) J” and then I hit “command or ctrl T” to transform or resize it. Pulling the side or corner lines.

Photoshop tools to duplicate, transform or resize image.

  • Paint In or Erase Out

    Once resized, paint over or erase out area to match the existing surrounding color you want. The point of interest in this painting is the candle. I started this painting without a drawing, free forming it as I went, therefore I notice drawing accuracy issues.

The Technical Applications 

  • Transforming or Adjusting Shapes

    The candle adjustment started by typing “L” for lasso tool to isolate off the top part of it. Then type “V” for move tool. I used the right pointing arrow key to shift it over a little because it was slightly off center to the stalk of the candle then I cleaned up the edge where the shift happened. There’s a void mark that’s left when you shift items in this manner.

    In the same way as was done for the top of the candle, the bottom of the candleholder is done. Isolate area typing “L” for lasso tool, type “command or ctrl J” to duplicate that image, then hit “command or control T” to transform or stretch the image to whatever size or shape wanted. After that, erase unwanted areas of the top image (duplicate) to allow areas of the bottom image (original) to show through that you want to keep.

    Photoshop tools to make adjustment on painting.

  • The same is done for the stalk and handle of the candleholder as with the base. Isolate, duplicate, transform it, erase unwanted areas allowing wanted area of the bottom to show through fitting it to the original candle with one difference. For the handle transform I used “Edit”, “Transform”, “Distort”. Distort allows for odd shape resizing.
  • I used “command or ctrl T” to transform the shape of the shadow under the candleholder for more oval accuracy, then I changed the Opacity of that layer to make it a little lighter to fit. I intentionally painted it darker because I wanted to make the opacity adjustment, than I made painting adjustments into it.
  • Other Transform Options

    Realizing that the bottom portion of the candle holder was crooked. I marquee it off, isolate it, duplicate, then clicked “Edit”, “Transform”, “Skew” to shift it up to straighten it out. Once straighten, I erased unwanted portions on the right side of it.

    Correcting with Skew Tool on Photoshop.

    To get it symmetrical, I duplicate again, click “Edit”, “Transform”, “Flip Horizontally”, erase off the unwanted areas. I paint back into it my shadow side colors and this gives me more accuracy in my drawing. I repeat the same process again on the base of the candle holder – duplicate it, then repeat “Edit”, “Transform” and then “Flip Horizontally”. I make painting adjustments for it to fit the base of the candle.

    Steps on Photoshop for creating symmetry.

    Making an adjustment on the smoke stream design, I first adjusted the transparency or Opacity for that layer, then shifted the design by going to “Edit”, “Transform”, “Perspective”. Tilted out the top end to the shape I wanted then soften it with a Gaussian Blur.

    Photoshop opacity setting tool.

    I repeat the process with a second smoke stream design. I painted it in at full opacity over the candle, then simply lessen that Opacity. Did the Gaussian Blur again, then transform  the shape using “Edit”, “Transform”, and this time “Warp”. Rather than having it directly over the candle I warped it to go below it for a better design.

Photoshop warp tool.

These painting advantages have no match in traditional painting.

  • Soften Areas

    Wanted to soften some of the paint modeling in the background. So I duplicate the background, clicked on “Filter”, “Blur”, “Gaussian Blur” to soften it to the degree that I desired, then erase out some of the areas that I wanted the original background to show through so everything was not completely soft.

    Steps to get to all the blur tools on Photoshop.

  • Color or Value Shifts

    I decided for a cooler color to my background. There are two ways of doing this. Either making a Layer Mask or duplicating the background. Click on “Image”, “Adjustment”, “Selective Color”. In the color bar, I click the “Down Arrow”, I chose “Neutral” and that’s for an overall color change. I also choose “Hue Saturation” because different parameters do different things to the color. I shifted the colors to what worked for me then erased out areas I did not want, left some of the cooler colors, then introduced additional colors into it.

    Making color or hue changes on Photoshop Painting.

  • Layer Mask Adjustments

    Adjustments Tools on Photoshop for Fine Art Painting.

    Changed the values of my background by using a “Levels” mask. That allows me to change how light, dark, or pale, I want something to be. Then I erase out areas not wanted and leave the amount desired in my background.

    The “Levels” mask was used for the candle as well. The candle was isolated or marquee off, darkened, erase area not wanted. This create a shadow on the left and right side of the candle which will help with roundness. Also used to brighten the area around where the glow hits the floor. Then erase out what I didn’t want.

    For the candleholder, a “Selective Color”, “Neutral”, layer mask was used to brighten the color then erase off areas I didn’t want to utilized. Also used to shift the color of the shadow under the candleholder adding purplish hues.

    Decide I want a slightly darker soft edge to separate the surface that the candle is sitting on from the surrounding darkness behind it. To do that I used a Layer Mask and darken it then erase off what I didn’t want. Adjusted the opacity or transparency level so it would be very subtle.

Finished Painting done digitally.

For a final adjustment I marquee off the candle for the entire layer by holding down “command or ctrl” while clicking the “level image” itself which gives me the complete marquee for the entire item on the layer, then I create a layer mask which allows me to lighten or darken and then I erase out specific things I don’t want.

These are some of the quick fixes that can be done using the painting advantages of digital that cannot be done traditionally.

You may find these post helpful as well: “How To Paint Digitally With Photoshop”, and “Painting With Photoshop on Computer”.

Hope you gained some insights. Give it a try!