10 Best Digital Painting Tutorials to Improve Your Skills

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You’ve developed your skills beyond that of a beginner digital artist and are looking for more. You’ve invested in a fancy drawing tablet. You know your way around Photoshop and Procreate. You’re ready to level up.

Digital art tutorials for beginners abound. Advanced tutorials are out there too, and with this guide, I aim to point you to the best in class (pun intended).

Let’s dive in and review the 10 best digital painting tutorials for advancing your skills.  We’ll start with more life-like looks, move to concept art of the more fantastical kind, and finish with a couple of tutorials fit for any digital painter looking to level up.

Tutorials for More Traditional, Realistic Artworks

If your style is more traditional, or you’d like to dabble in a bit of “real” art instead of your original characters and fantasy worlds, then these tutorials are perfect for upping your skills and getting your creative juices flowing.

Maurizio de Angelis’s Paint Like an Old Master With Photoshop and Procreate

Paint Like an Old Master makes our best digital painting tutorials list for three reasons:

  • It uses an old masterpiece, as Maurizio says, because traditional art is an excellent source of inspiration.
  • It teaches many skills — painting and drawing hair, realistic skin tones, realistic eye shading, how to blend colors, textures, and brushes, and much more.
  • It’s one of SkillShare’s free tutorials, actually two free tutorials, as it’s a two-part class.

It does begin with a “Basics of Photoshop and Procreate” section, and after that, it dives right in with three classic methods of drawing.

If you prefer to skip right through to the “how to learn digital painting” tutorial, the blank line art drawing is available to download.

I think this is one of the most amazing digital painting tutorials I’ve come across, and I think you’ll find it rewarding and amazing, too.


Digital Painting

Substance Painter 101 by Christophe Desse

Christophe Desse’s courses on ArtStation are ideal if you’re looking to move from static digital painting to 3D artwork. His three-part course combining Adobe’s Substance Painter 3D and Redshift results in life-like looking textures and objects.

I realize that not every digital painter’s personal preference is to move into the world of gaming, movie making, or product design. Still, you just might find a little realistic 3D digital art challenging and fun. Here’s what I like best about this course:

  • Desse is an experienced professional, working in the digital art business since 1991
  • He excels in both realistic and concept art.
  • Each step-by-step tutorial video covers not only the basic understanding of the tools and techniques but is rather engaging as well as educational.
  • He paints concept and muscle cars. What more could you want?!


first project 2021 wet super snak

Making of Spanish Girl by David Munoz Velazquez

The most amazing digital painting tutorials include a step-by-step digital art video. Velazquez’s “Spanish Girl” 3D Total tutorial is different because it doesn’t.

He instead walks you through creating this amazing painting he made for his grandmother in a blog-like article.

Here’s why we’ve added it to our list of some of the best digital painting tutorials on the web:

  • You see the creation of a painting made specifically for a finished print instead of a screen or digital display.
  • He discusses his choices for colors, realistic textures, the decision between Photoshop brushes with soft edges and hard edges, and moves you from beginning sketches to the finished painting hanging on his grandmother’s wall.
  • Velazquez screenshots his Photoshop tools, including texture brushes and his processes to create, correct, and perfect the painting.

While not as flashy as other digital art tutorials out there, the “Spanish Girl” can’t be ignored if your goal is to learn how to paint more realistic figures and original characters.


Making of'Spanish Girl'

Traditional Looks for Digital Paintings by Wesley Gardner

Wesley Gardner is another professional who is serving up his skill and expertise to students on SkillShare. You may have never heard his name, but I’d bet you just might recognize his work on games like Warhammer.

Wesley’s digital art guide won’t teach you how to paint or sketch or draw. He won’t even teach which basic colors to use.

This artist takes your already finished artwork and helps you to make it look like it’s been created on a canvas with a brush in one hand and a palette in the other rather than on a monitor with a stylus and some software (never mind the cheese curl dust.)

Here’s the short list of reasons why I chose this tutorial as one of the best on the web:

  • You will learn not one, not two, but three techniques for giving your artwork a beautiful, traditional “paint on canvas” result.
  • You will receive nearly two hours of coached, real-time lessons not just to watch but paint along.
  • As a gift for taking his course, Gardner gives each student a free set of 9 custom Photoshop brushes he created and other free resources and materials.

While painting apples may not seem like an exciting or enjoyable undertaking, Gardner’s class will help you achieve the skills you need to take your paintings from ho-hum to amazing things in the world of digital art.


Apple Painting for'Traditional Looks for Digital Painting'

Tutorials for Concept and Fantasy Artworks

Maybe you’re not as interested in “reality” in your artwork as the above tutorials would result in. Your creative muscles lie in creating concept art, fantasy worlds, and amazing beings like dragons and aliens, robots, and cyberpunk flying machines.

That’s perfectly fine with me. In fact, I’ve gathered some advanced technique tutorials just for you. Get ready to sketch, draw, and paint all the fantastical creations your imagination can produce.

Creating a Viking Scene with Jonathon Benainous

Take your materials texturing to the next level under the tutelage of a 15 year veteran of the gaming industry.

Benainous’s ArtStation course teaches you how to create “highly detailed hard surfaces” for your 3D scenes. He’ll show you intermediate and advanced techniques for creating materials using Substance Designer and Marmoset Toolbag.

My top reasons for including this course on the list:

  • It’s a complete guide to the invaluable skill of realistic scene and material creation.
  • The course is fairly meaty, at nearly 4 hours long.
  • It’s readily accessible to anyone with decent beginner skills, as it starts at the intermediate level and goes up, not assuming you already have a higher level of expertise.
  • You can let your inner Viking come out to play.

What more could you ask for? An awesome educational tutorial and some Viking swordplay along the way.


Creating a Viking Scene

Character Design in Procreate with Even Amundsen

Even Amundsen is a Norwegian professional digital artist who specializes in character art for games and movies. In his ArtStation course, he takes the student through the entire process of creating a character called Jorsalfari.

From rough line art sketches to finished products complete with environmental lighting, you’ll recreate this awesome wizard that comes to life right on your tablet or screen.

Even’s course makes this list because:

  • Like Benainious’s course above, it doesn’t require an expert level of skill, just some decent beginner skills.
  • Want to learn to paint hair? Get the angle on a chin just right? Set your character in the best light? This course will teach you how.
  • It even includes his mistakes and the corrections he makes, literally taking you along for the entire ride, giving this tutorial that “behind the scenes” extras you don’t usually find.

Every concept and fantasy artist has their “main character” tucked somewhere in their heads. They see him, her, or it in their mind so clearly. Now, you can take yours from imagination to a full, living color painting with Even Amundsen’s tutorial course.


Even Amundsen

Painting Over 3D Renders Parts 1 & 2 by Stéphane Wootha Richard

Maybe your issue isn’t your characters as much as it is your world. Richard’s course assumes you know how to create the flat 3D renders of your scenes in black and white. That puts this squarely in the intermediate to advanced category.

He takes you through the challenging aspects of importing a 3D scene into your 2D Photoshop software so that you can add all the color, warmth, light, and depth your world needs.

Some of the reasons I like this course enough to include it here:

  • The first part is an intermediate-level tutorial covering the basics of the task, while the second part gets more advanced and ends with a wonderful finished painting.
  • Richard gives the artist solutions to common issues with painting over 3D renders.
  • Learning this skill can help you bypass hours of labor-intensive work and speed up your creation process.

This course leaves almost no aspect of world creation untouched. You’ll cover the sky and atmospheric depth, overgrown vegetation, color “moods”, and much more.

Make your worlds amazing, filled with life and color with this two-part ArtStation course.


Painting Over 3D Renders

Advanced Stylized Facility Design by Trent Kaniuga

In the introduction to this Proko course, Kaniuga talks about the struggles digital artists often have to overcome to get a foot in the door of game development studios. In short, they all want “experience”.

Going from basic skill level to professional yep-you’re-hired expertise takes some doing, and Kaniuga’s purpose in developing his course is to provide some of that experience and “doing”.

Even better? He teaches you how to do it quickly, so that you’re not only good but fast, too.

A few of the things we like about his workshop that put it on our list of best digital painting tutorials:

  • Everything in this course is geared towards turning amateur or student artists into professionals worthy of hire.
  • He takes you from illustration and concept ideas to an amazing finished design in less than 4 hours.
  • The tutorial workshop is the exact process most concept artists will go through when working for a game studio, from what the Art Director expects from a concept artist to placing your call-out elements.
  • Homework assignments, free grey-box materials, and templates, so you have everything you need to go from “sorry, no” to hired pro.

Kaniuga has worked for some of the biggest names in the gaming world. If your dream is to become a game concept artist, this tutorial course is worth every penny you’ll pay for it.


Advanced Stylized Facility Design

Advanced Art Tutorials for Every Artist

It doesn’t matter what sort of art you do:  sketch, drawings, painting with brushes or bytes, amazing things can only happen if you are properly trained in certain basic art skills and knowledge.

The following two tutorials may not be truly “advanced”, but if you’ve skipped over the skills and knowledge in them, your art could be suffering because of it.

Making the Most of Digital Painting Tools by Iris Muddy

Muddy’s course on ArtStation should be on every digital painter’s must-watch, to-do list. Listed as an Intermediate course, she assumes some basic skills and knowledge of Photoshop and digital painting.

In the tutorial, she covers blurs, adjustment layers, blending modes, and more. She even gets into “experimental uses” for the tools and resources she covers.

Three reasons why I think everyone could benefit from Iris’s course:

  • Fundamental skills are taught and built upon in a practical, useful way.
  • There are exercises for “finding inspiration” to give your imagination a boost.
  • A final demo that puts it all in perspective and puts it all together.
  • (Bonus) It’s just a little over an hour long.

Gain useful insight into tools you can use time and time again to greater and better effect in your digital painting. And do it in less time than it takes to watch that chick flick your girlfriend’s been bugging you about.


Conquering the Blank Canvas by Zeldon Devon

We’ve all been there. Staring at the stark whiteness of a blank page, screen, or canvas. It mocks you and your inability to start.

Zelda’s short workshop on ArtStation will cure all that anxiety and have you whipping up pieces for your portfolio or Etsy shop in no time.

Here’s why it makes our list of essential advanced digital artist tutorials:

  • It’s something we all face, but something most courses don’t talk or teach about
  • She uses the Pomodoro Technique, a scientifically proven method for increasing productivity and decreasing anxiety.
  • Zelda discusses an essential part of the illustration and painting process — reference.

Get back in the saddle. Pick up that tablet and stylus and get to work. Zelda will show you how to conquer that blank screen.


No matter what your desired goals for your art might be, there’s always a way and a reason to improve your skills, increase your knowledge, and level up to become a better artist. And with this list, there’s almost no reason for you to remain where you are.

Find a course or two or 10 and start today. Your future art will thank you.

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