What opacity setting I use in digital painting.

What opacity setting I use in digital painting? This is one of the most asked questions on this blog and my Youtube channel.
Many of the same question such as How much opacity do you use for the first but, and do you use one layer or variouse layers? or Im completely new to doing digital painting. Do you do your base sketch and and the do value and shading on one layer? or how many layers do you work with? and how do you work with them? Dude how many layers did you put on this painting?? are you using layers each shading? and many more. So this post I hope will clear some of that up.

MS: Believe me, i’ve watched all of your videos, and i got really inspired.
I bought my graphic tablet about a few weeks ago and i’ve been experimenting, checking youtube for more tutorials.
I found yours to be most helpful.
1) What kind of opacity setting you use when you paint in Photoshop?
Or Or what brush settings (opacity, shape dynamics etc.) do you use when rough shading? i can’t seem to be able to get the same ‘smoothness’ of shade like you do in the video.

Xia: First, I use low opacity (30-50%) to find values and move shapes/shadow around. It’s kind of similar process when you sketch with pencil, you have to get a rough draft or construction lines and rough values (shading, lighting)
After I get what seems to be underpainting (close to corrected values) then I use only (70-100%) and be precise of where you put your paint and strokes using 100% help keep your color clean and not muddy. Then just use logic and intuition where to fix and use opacity according to the local values and decide whether you want soft of hard edge on that area.
Go read Color and value compare for artists to get the better understanding on value.
You can also do exercise here how to shade and render drawing and painting

For tablet setting, I use default setting most of the time. Don’t worry so much about that, very minor stuff. Just make sure your pen is pressure sensitive, that is all there is to it. And for brush settings, I would recommend master the default round then you can play around with your setting once you understand how the default actually works.

painting landscape foggy mountain

painting landscape foggy mountain

MS: 2) But what confused me is, after your sketch you started on the shadows. From what i was taught i should create a new layer and set the sketch as an outline. From what i can can tell, you used the same layer and changed opacity of the brush to make the shadows.. same for the actual painting. i need heavy tips 😀

Xia: I don’t use many layers in my work. I merge them once I have what I am looking for. What I usually personally do is create another layer on top or under the outlines layer to paint values (shading or lighting) in the beginning. Then as it progress in to form that I want then I will forget lines, think shapes, values, and edge. If you want to add line art, add it after the painting process is done. (Unless you have scanned in inking lines as separate layer, you should put it on top of everything at all time and painting under. In that case, it shouldn’t take you long to paint, just get the basic values and colors or you can push it more toward painting if you like because you want to show off the line work. if that make sense.) then again i’m still learning when it comes to digital painting or painting in general.
But here is a useful articles on general rules, 3 important rules for painting.

Hope this is helpful.
If you still want to know more, I will recommend getting these two premium tutorials. These tutorials have help many young aspiring digital artists, if you are serious. They will get you start and well beyond basic digital painting. If these two premium tutorials don’t help you in anyway, we will give you full refund.
Just contact us to request the refund if you are not happy with the tutorials. no question asked.
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About Xia Taptara

Xia Taptara (黃曉聲 Huang XiaoShēng), currently a freelance concept artist for games and films, formerly a character concept artist for ArenaNet/NCsoft (GuildWars & Guildwars 2). I also work on various projects for Game of Thrones, Square-Enix, Paizo Publishing, Fantasy Fight Games, Disney Interactive, and many publishers & clients. I use Wacom Tablet Intuos and Photoshop CS2,3,4,5 to do most of my professional art work. I use pencil, pen, and traditional medium in my free time. I founded IdrawGirls.com (TheArtClasses.com) in 2007 to motivate myself to create more and better art. Also I get to draw and paint whatever the hell I want to. Hopefully I can inspired some young soul and old soul alike. *QUESTIONS & COMMENT: PLEASE POST THEM ON THE BLOG. Or CONTACT ME via idrawgirls Facebook page. DO NOT E-MAIL ME. Thank you. ;-)
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9 Responses to What opacity setting I use in digital painting.

  1. Xia Taptara says:

    Please get a tablet Ray. Save your hand from repetitive motion injury wrist from using mouse. It can cause serious damage.

  2. Ray says:

    Hey Xia! Beautiful artwork, I must say. I have a question though. I’m trying to learn digital art, but I don’t have a tablet and try learning with a mouse, but my lines look jagged and not smooth. maybe my settings are wrong or it’s just because I’m using a mouse, I don’t know. Do you think I should get a tablet before trying to go digital and just draw on paper in the meantime?

  3. Cedrick B. Bayna says:

    thx sir i just practicing my coloring talent

  4. Xia Taptara says:

    Hey buddy, this article is suppose to get you started. You should use it as general guideline, it is not a bible for painting in Photoshop. It is only one articles.
    Try finish a few painting then come back and read again, you will get it more. Then watch all of my free video. Reading just one article will not make you suddenly enlighten. This is just the start.

  5. Cedrick B. Bayna says:

    sir if i going to finish my work??? i’ll use 100% ??? sir i have a
    question about ezio ~~ i saw ur first step sketching then the black
    one?? and u add light what color did u used there? low opacity white or grey one??

  6. Xia Taptara says:

    If you are good or better than what they are looking for, they will interview you. And if they see that you can get along fine with the team you will be hired. I worked with people in their 20s to 50s. Don’t see any problem of ages. I quit because I have my own project to do.

  7. Dohyung Kim says:

    Hi! Xia…I’m just wondering If there’s like dead line of age for working concept art field…
    I don’t know why your introduction said you are ‘RETIRED professional concept artist’.
    I’m over 30 yrs and still preparing to become conceptartist! Could you give me some advice?

    -from Toronto. Canada-

  8. Xia Taptara says:

    I leave the flow at 100% default. Tweaking too much only complicate things. It doesn’t change or help much anyway. Opacity is enough.

    I use a few layers at the time then I merge them all. Focus on value (light and dark). Be honest and trust your eye because your brain will tell you otherwise. Draw what you see, not what you think the object should look like.


    Color read this:
    Using Overlay

    here is how to set it up

    3 rules of Painting

    Color vs Value
    Value Exercise

  9. Carlo Valente says:

    And what about the flow?

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