Digital Painting.

Digital painting is almost everywhere you look, even if you don’t always recognise it. While digital painting has existed in some form since the 1960’s, today, it uses software to capture brush strokes made with a stylus rather than a brush. 


Here, we’ll focus on digital painting, outlining its benefits, the necessary tools to get started, and more.

Close up of a woman’s hands at a desk using a tablet with a stylus to create a digital painting.

What is Digital Painting?


Fortunately, everything you know about the form of traditional painting still applies to digital painting. The key difference is that digital painting swaps paintbrushes and canvases for a stylus and a screen. Digital paint is still applied by hand, still built up in layers and, unsurprisingly, still requires lots of practice and hard work.



Often, specialist software like Adobe Photoshop, Fresco, Illustrator or other digital painting apps let painters create art in a variety of styles by representing different mediums on screen. All of this allows painters to create complex images using a pen-like stylus. Many painters find digital painting tools more convenient than traditional methods because it’s often faster, cleaner, and cost-effective.


The Difference Between Digital Painting and Digital Illustration.


Digital painting is an umbrella term that covers lots of styles of artwork, including digital illustration. Illustration refers to images that accompany a story or narrative piece. This might be a drawing of a character at the start of a children’s novel, or it might be the visual representation of a scene for a film’s storyboard.


Digital painting can include digital illustration, but it can also include other forms like concept art, portraits, still life, and more. Digital illustrators aren’t solely defined by their style of art, but you might notice they use line drawing more than other artists painting digitally.



The Benefits of Digital Paint vs Traditional Paint.


Digital artists aren’t shy about the benefits of digital painting over traditional approaches. Some of the highlights include:


  • Convenience. Getting ready to paint can take time. Whether it’s preparing materials or varnishing a canvas, you need to set up your space. But with digital painting, you only need to turn on your laptop or tablet, select your digital painting app of choice, and dive straight in.
  • Easy to edit. With programs like Adobe Photoshop, you can undo mistakes instantly. With over 60 inbuilt tools, Photoshop allows you to edit your images how you see fit. Blur, distort, stretch and more – you can carry out complex edits all with the click of a button.
  • Improve your productivity. Digital painting can save you time and effort, and ultimately, help boost your productivity. With AI tools like Generative Fill, you can quickly add and edit elements in seconds. What could have taken a few hours to create can now be done in moments. If you want to incorporate existing content into your work, it’s never been easier to turn paintings into digital art.
  • Long-term cost-effectiveness. When you want to start a new painting with physical media, you need a new canvas or board. With digital painting software, it’s as simple as pressing Ctrl + N (or Cmd + N on Mac), and if your work doesn’t go to plan, you won’t have wasted any materials. While you may need to invest in software and tools to begin your digital painting journey, you’ll need to pay for very little afterwards.
  • Share your digital paintings wherever, whenever. Whatever program you use, your digital art will be easy to export and share. It could be a new logo for a YouTube channel or an illustration for Instagram, but getting your artwork online is simple with digital painting. In comparison, physical media requires high-quality scanning and generally, is harder to manipulate to fit a variety of purposes.

What You’ll Need for Digital Painting.


Starting out with digital painting can seem complicated at first but you only need a handful of tools to begin. And unlike a new tube of paint, these digital painting tools can last several years or more. Here are some of the necessary kit you’ll need to get started:


Digital painting tools


Digital painting tools are the ones you’ll use to make your mark, whether that’s neat lines, streaks of colour, or finetuned details. The most common type is a stylus used in conjunction with a tablet. Think of this as your new pen and paper. 


You can pick from several types of drawing tablets for your digital painting. The standard is the graphic tablet. This is basically a large touchpad that you connect to your computer and use with your stylus. Because there’s no screen attached, you have to rely on your computer screen to see what’s going on.


A display tablet can be used as a separate screen, though this can be prone to dead pixels after frequent use. The best, though most expensive, option is the all-in-one tablet. Think of these as a computer in a tablet. However, consider the software you’ll want to use, as not all digital art software works with tablets. 


Digital painting software


In addition to your hardware, you’ll also need software to capture your digital paintings. Adobe Photoshop is known for its versatility and wide range of tools, making it one of the most popular options on the market. 


With over 60 tools available for use, you won’t need to rely on brush strokes alone to create your images. Speaking of brush strokes, in Photoshop, you can access brush types for everything from digital matte paintings to digital watercolour landscapes.


How to Digital Paint in Adobe Photoshop.  


Getting started with your digital painting in Adobe Photoshop is easy. Simply follow our tips below and put your digital pen to paper: 


  • Start by opening Photoshop and a new document.

  • Choose a colour you want to paint in.

  • Then select either the Pencil or the Brush tool.

  • If you want, you can tweak the settings of your brushes and pencil.

  • From here, click and drag to make your mark and paint away.

Tips on How to Make a Career from Painting Digital Art.


With hard work and persistence, you can turn your digital paintings into a career, and explore the many avenues available.


Popular career choices include 3D modeller, storyboard artist, video game concept artist, or cartoon animator, as just a few examples. You could become a published illustrator with your own children’s stories or focus your talents towards creating comic books.


We’ve listed some tips on how to get started in a career that uses digital painting skills:



  • Become familiar with digital art software, such as Adobe Photoshop.
  • Take part in digital painting challenges and competitions.
  • Network with other artists and attend conventions.
  • Consider enrolling in a course – whether through formal education, a bootcamp, or an online course.
  • Practice, practice, practice – the more you paint, the better you’ll get.

Start Digital Painting with Photoshop.

Create digital paintings with Photoshop. Gain access to 60+ tools, unlimited brushes, and more. Easily edit your images with layers and access your work from anywhere