My First Finished Digital Painting

Digital painting of tiger up close at San Diego Zoo
Digital painting of tiger at San Diego Zoo

This is my first finished digital painting made with Photoshop. It is of a male two-year-old tiger at the San Diego Zoo. I’m pretty happy with it because I know how many lessons I had to learn to get to this point. Even though I know Photoshop pretty well, I still had to learn about how to use it for painting digitally. Some of the lessons I had to learn were:

– Getting over my fear of doing something new
– Staying inspired as a beginner
– Refreshing my knowledge of basic art composition
– Experimenting and choosing a color palette
– Learning about digital brushes
– Learning about the digital painting workflow
– Choosing subject matter that will keep me inspired
– Enjoying the process

The prep work to start the painting took 3-4 months prior and it required many practice paintings. During that time I also read books to stay inspired:

“The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly” by Seth Godin
“The War Of Art” by Steven Pressfield
“On Becoming An Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity” by Ellen J. Langer

The actual painting took about 9 hours (3 hours for 3 days).

Day One: build the color palette, draw a sketch, and block in color
Day Two: fill in shapes, add shading and create volume, make corrections
Day Three: focus on the details, continue to make corrections and refine without overworking

I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about what’s ahead. This week I hope to buy a Wacom tablet (digital painting with a mouse can wreak havoc on your wrist). In future posts, I’ll try describe in more detail the steps I am taking.

Have a great week!



A garial floating in its pool enclosure.

About a month ago, I became a member of the San Diego Zoo, one of my favorite places to visit. I’ve been wanting to photograph the animals there more. So I’ll be posting animal photos for awhile, but the real reason I’m going to the zoo is to get reference material for my projects with a more artistic approach, which I’ll be posting later also.

Some changes to the blog

My pace will be changing. During the past few months, I realized that the recommended 2-to-3-posts-a-week schedule that I was doing last year wasn’t working for me. I could feel it blocking me from spending enough time on creative projects, so I’ve been having a fight with myself and not posting very often. Rather than having a fixed schedule, I concluded, I will try to keep a flexible once-a-week posting schedule.

I’ve been learning a lot in digital art and will also share some of that in coming posts.

Happy Monday and I hope you have a great week!