Top 7 Digital Painting Mistakes

Top 7 Digital Painting Mistakes

Digital painting apps and graphics tablets can do amazing things. But they’re not magic. And they’re not going to do the work for you. And there’s a real danger of developing bad habits
that can end up hurting your artwork. This episode is sponsored by Wacom,
which is the brand of tablets that I use and recommend to students all the time. They sent us a new 32” Cintiq Pro, so I’m
gonna test it out while I show you 7 bad practices you should avoid when painting digitally. Sin #7 – Carelessness There are lots of ways that carelessness,
or slopiness, can hurt your painting. But in this case, I’m talking specifically
about when artists don’t paint all the way up to the edge of a shape or outline and
leave white gaps from the underlying canvas showing through. I don’t know what else to call that besides
being careless. When the artist is attempting to make a realistic
rendering, those little spots of white make a painting look unfinished and immediately
draw my eye to them. The two ways to fix this are to, one: Be more precise and scrupulous. Paint up to and even over the edge of your
shapes to make sure you get total coverage. Or two: You can leave gaps in your painting if you
work on top of a toned canvas. Preferably something neutral or even a color
that is complementary to the overall color harmonies in your painting. Tiny specks of color showing through your
paint can create a nice vibration of color and even suggest a texture. So even if you do end up having gaps in your
paint strokes, it won’t make your painting look unfinished or like you only gave it the
minimum effort. The next common mistake I see people make
is settling for the default brushes that come with your painting program. And this mostly applies to those who paint
with Photoshop, like me. Photoshop is a GREAT and powerful program
for painting digitally. It’s what I use almost exclusively in the
studio. But, for years, the default brushes didn’t
exactly lend themselves to painting naturally. Out of the box, they were kind of sterile
or weren’t set up to respond to pressure controlled styluses. You generally needed to fiddle with brush
settings and save them as a new brush preset to make the default brushes more responsive
to your artistic will. But I got the best results when I figured
out how to make my own custom brushes, or downloaded cool brush sets created by others. In other words, I didn’t settle for the
standard brush sets because I needed more variety to help better express what I wanted
to do. When painting digitally, spend some time learning
how the brush mechanics work so you can get them to do your bidding. Lots of artists these days go straight to digital
painting before learning to paint with traditional media because they want to do the tricks and
the slick renderings. And I think it’s a mistake. Learning to paint with oils, acrylics or watercolors
is a time consuming process. Gaining mastery or even just proficiency at
them can take years. But if you never pick up a real paint brush,
you may never learn the disciplines and practices that go into painting and illustrating. When you learn to paint on canvas or paper,
you not only gain skills in those particular mediums, but also form your personal tastes
and style as an artist. Those then become habits and inclinations
that you’ll bring into the digital world when painting on a computer screen. And as a result, your digital paintings will
be more likely to reflect your personal and unique style and sensibility. As an illustrator or fine artist, what people
respond to most is the individual style that you bring to the table. I think you can learn and practice both digital
and real world paints at the same time. You don’t have to wait years to become an oil painting master. But if you’re impatient and rush into digital
painting without at least experimenting with real world paints, you may never develop a
strong personal digital painting style. The sin of laziness here is exemplified by
a really specific and narrow critique. But I see it a lot in artists’ portrait
and caricature paintings. And that’s using the fill tool to color
the background. It’s actually good to use the fill tool
at the beginning of a painting to cover the whole canvas. But leaving the background that single flat
fill color at the end of your painting is the height of laziness. And it’s just a weird place to be lazy. Compared to a human head, a background
is really simple and quick. If you’re putting in all this effort on
the subject of your digital painting, don’t just treat the background as throw-away. For one, it’s jarring to see a realistic
rendering up against a flat graphic color. But if you just take some extra time and use
a big brush and paint simple gradient, it can add so much to the composition by moving
the viewer’s eye to where you want it to go. Vary the hue, color temperature or value a
little bit, to contrast the subject so it stands out from the background more. Let your audience know that you cared enough
about your work to add a little context around it. But if you really really don’t want to paint
a background manually, my advice would be just to make the background white. It’s usually the safest bet. Even some non digital artists used this technique
to a great effect. Sin #3 – Self-Delusion Let me just say this as simply as possible. If you think the soft-edged airbrush tool
is your friend and makes your paintings look better, more professional or realistic,
you are delusional! There are certain places or effects where
minimal use of the airbrush might be okay. But going straight for the airbrush and using
it for the majority of your painting is one of the best ways to kill it. You may be tempted to believe it’s a good
way to blend lights and darks. But a basic airbrush creates a very sterile
and artificial look. It prevents you from being able to create
hard edges or interesting brush strokes. And aside from issues relating to style, you
actually can’t render forms convincingly without hard edges. Plus, remember, it’s the flaws, and the brush strokes
and variety of edges that help make an artist’s style look unique. The digital airbrush virtually eliminates
any flaws or variety. Don’t attempt “perfection” in your paintings. Strive for uniqueness and character. Sin #2 – Monotony The digital airbrush is probably one of the
worst brushes you can use. However, if you use ANY brush too much, you
run the risk of getting a monotonous painting, no matter how cool that brush is. When working on any assignment or personal
piece, I’m constantly switching between several different digital brushes. Some of which I’ve custom-made, some of
which I’ve downloaded from other artists. It’s important to always try new brushes
and painting tools when working digitally. It helps to keep you thinking about what you’re
doing without going into autopilot mode. I recommend using a particular brush for
just a little while and then switch to a different brush with different qualities. And keep switching it up as a matter of habit
without relying on one single brush too much. You’ll end up with paintings that have a
lot more visual interest because of the variety of strokes and textures. As you practice with new brushes you’ll
learn their strengths and their weaknesses and start developing preferences for when you like using
each one. In other words, you’ll develop a style. So what do you think is the greatest sin in
digital painting? What’s the number one thing that all of us have
done at some point but is the one habit that is guaranteed to always ruin your painting? Stealing! …with THIS! Using the eyedropper tool to sample, or steal,
colors from the reference photo. Photoshop and other apps make it really easy
to turn off your brain and have all your color choices made for you. If you only do it once in awhile, that’s
probably okay. But if you sample every major color from your
reference photo as your modus operandi, you are bypassing one of the most important factors
in developing your own unique style. And your digital paintings will look like
everyone else’s who steal colors from photos. You see, artists who are competent with color
tend to have a consistent look with the palettes they use, whether consciously or unconsciously. If every painting you do has its colors sampled
from different reference photos, your portfolio of works will not have that kind of consistency
of style . And more importantly when you rely on the reference photo for the majority of
your color decisions, you are not learning how to judge and use color and value, which
is a critical skill for an artist. You’re just cheating yourself out of a vital
and fundamental part of your artistic training. You won’t ever come to understand the principles
behind what you’re doing. You’ll be just a mindless copying machine. You may think matching your colors to the
photo makes your paintings stronger. The general public, with their untrained eyes
may look at your work and be impressed at how “real” it looks. But other artists who know their stuff, will
immediately be able to see the evidence of your color theft. Paintings done this way have a really distinctive
and odd look. They usually lack atmosphere and mood. And often, with inexperienced artists, their
shapes usually don’t transition well from one color to the next because part of working
honestly with color is learning how to paint good transitions and edges. Also, think about this: When the need arises
to paint two or more people together and you’re using two different reference photos that
have different color temperatures, contrast and saturation levels, your sin and lack of
color knowledge becomes obvious to all. The faces won’t look like they’re in the
same environment. You need to be able to observe the reference
photos and translate that information into colors and values that harmonize with the
rest of your painting. In other words, you need to have the skills
to improvise and paint your own colors to make the two subjects look like they’re
in the same lighting. The more you paint honestly with color, the
more intuitive it becomes to achieve color harmony in your work. When painting digitally, it’s easy to fall
into the traps of convenience, shortcuts and carelessness. And those can lead to bad habits that are
really hard to break. The digital tablets available now are extremely
refined tools that can help you make anything you imagine real. But you have to put in the hours and do the
work honestly before you can create digital art at a professional level. Today I was using Wacom’s new 32” Cintiq
Pro. But if that’s too big for your budget or
your desk there’s also the 24”, 16” and 13” models. Links down in the description. I’d like to thank Wacom for sponsoring this
episode and for making quality tools for artists. Really… I personally have bought and have used several
Wacom tablets over the years, so this was a natural sponsorship that we were happy to
accept. Ok, guys those are my top 7 digital painting
mistakes. Keep in mind, some artists may be able to
get away with doing something that other artists can’t. So I’m not saying that you can NEVER do
these things. These are the practices and habits I’ve
noticed in my students that create the biggest problems in their digital work, especially
when they’re just learning the medium. Let me know in the comments if I missed anything.


  • Proko says:

    Are you a sinner? Which of these mistakes do you make? What mistakes did we miss?

  • Макс Смолев says:

    any kniwledge about layers etc?

  • Neala Ernswa says:

    I found the information in this video very useful, so thank you for that! While I enjoyed the lesson, the delivery, and framing of the information felt unnecessarily mean, and I have to wonder how many people were put off from the lesson entirely because of the framing. I watched this video because I'd seen some of the other's you've made and liked them, but if I had come across it blind I likely wouldn't have clicked.

  • skankhunt42 says:

    the traditional "mistake" is complete bullshit you don't need to learn traditionally first there are many artists who started digitally that are amazing artists. Traditional elitists like to try and make digital artists feel inferior if they can't do traditional meanwhile they paint things that are not complex at all and think they are better

  • SideGenom says:

    ok ive noticed 6/7 sins match i guess its time to get to work

  • Tata Banchou says:

    This video feels more like someone trying to impose personal tastes on other people than helpful advices for newbies.

  • venalt says:

    I feel personally attacked by this whole video

  • XUAN玄 says:

    I agree with most of these, except for the colour palette consistency. I actually don't like the fact that artists have to be confined to a specific colour palette. It feels so limiting that once you establish your palette, you're not supposed to deviate from it. I think ideally you should be allowed to explore all kinds of atmospheres and feelings by constantly experimenting with different palettes, otherwise you become a one-mood artist.

  • Hard Boiled says:

    "I started with MS Paint with a trackball mouse and spent more than two decades till I arrived in Photoshop stage with a tablet, whippersnapper nowadays just go straight to Photoshop… preposterous!"

  • Lina Andersson says:

    This feels like you're way up on a high horse

  • TBNR redla says:

    I would add needless over-saturation to this list. A lot of beginners, myself included, use hugely over-saturated colors as a crutch to make our paintings "pretty." Now there is nothing wrong with using vibrant colors, incredible artists like Aaron Blaise use them to great affect, but they have a specific place and look often fake when used over-much.

  • JP1desu says:

    Another sin is: Painting (or painting over) a gorgeous girl photo and posting both, writing on it "Photography", "Drawing"

  • melissa tan says:

    i mostly agree, but y he got to get so personal about the way he says it?? lazy, delusional, etc..

  • Jeff Reuther says:

    Which type of desktop computer do you use to run that tablet?

  • Lucas Pittol da Silva says:

    Amazing list, but you forgotten the #8 mistake: NOT WATERMARKING YOUR WORK PROPERLY.

    If you do artwork really well, people will take it and use somewhere, and they may not credit you. An entitled, princess-like artist will say "but they should request my "PEHRMISSION" to use my work". If you think that way, you are a complete idiot who does not know how the internet works. People will rip it, and you should be proud about it, not an arrogant person threatening to file a copyright complaint against your fans just because they haven't asked you if they could or couldn't republish your work. DO YOUR HOMEWORK first, and "art theft" will stop forever. NO ONE CARES if you use a watermark, if well done, it will not ruin your artwork and will keep it referenced to you no matter what happens.

    I've been around doing digital art for almost a decade and watermarking artwork works better than complaining about art theft. It makes you look arrogant enough to say "meehh, muh art should never ever be in any place outside muh gallery, u are not allowed to even see it without asking muh "pehrmission" to do it!"


  • N A Jay says:

    Man did this video flop, all those “sins” are very subjective and opinionated.

  • John Kas says:

    Dont present what works for you as a general rule that should apply to everyone. Most of these come down to personal preference.

  • Richard68434 says:

    Awesome video….but why German Hillary?

  • Rebel Angel says:

    some of the top digital artists in the industry only use a round brush..this is more of an opinion video..

  • vishnu das says:

    WOW, superb! thanks for the video. I have learned a lot from you.

  • Azeez Alkalidy says:

    3:26 Stan Prokopenko just 30 years from now.

  • Redicent says:

    I believe the mistakes that they mention in this video is for those who wish to improve or increase their knowledge. These actions are the ones that prevent you from learning much, saving you time and convenience instead of taking the time to learn it. It’s fine if you are working in a time limit and if you already know the general practice but this is for those who wish to further into their art career.

  • Anthony Czajkowski says:

    Shitty arrogant video with bad opinions.

  • Maike Balzer says:

    I do leave white gaps, but it is my stylistic decision/my style, and I'm actually a bit offended by having it called carelessness, because I LOVE it, it's me, and I have encountered plenty of 'plastered' paintings that lost all room to breathe and were all dead, suffocating and boring – not saying this has to be so, Court's certainly look great, but so does his example with the white patches

  • Dan Graphic says:

    8th mistake: Buying an overpriced Wacom instead of one of the cheaper and just as good economical brands.

  • Kagyu Breigh says:

    Found Proko today, watched about 7 or 8 videos and unfortunately this was the last video (autoplay) and it prevented me from subbing. This guy seemed technical, very jargon-y, but overall pretty good info sometimes over complicated explination, but nothing I couldn't deal with. But allowing a video like this on your channel. Full of biased information and just flat out false information for what? Staying on the Wacom PR list?
    I also have to say that color grab nonsense at the end with the refrenced artworks from diffrent photos plays like a shitty infommercial, with bad actors blatently dropping things/using them wrong.

  • zaqareemalcolm says:

    im too poor to afford paint in the long run rip

  • Landon Lovette says:

    I highly recommend the XP Artist 12 if you are looking for a beginning drawing tablet. You can get it for less than $250 and it hypersensitive and uses a battery-free pen.

  • TheMrRuttazzo says:

    Talking about carelessness and sloppiness…
    takes A. Merkel as a reference
    …Well played, guys, well played… ;P

  • Elena707 says:

    Yep, I'm not a pro but Wacom is the best I have used in over 10 years 🙂

  • criscarvalhoss1 says:

    Lots of artists these days go straight to digital painting before going to traditional media because it cheaper in the long run….

  • Ginny says:

    No. 5 is quite the inverse, because although I started with traditional, I used an acrylic blending method and thus it's quite handy when I'm doing acrylic because I use a common and important technique in my drawing all the time.

  • Who Are You Again? says:

    I guess I haven’t committed sins since I haven’t tried digital painting at all.

  • Timi Hankimaa says:

    Using phototextures nearly killed my interest to whole digitalpainting. I had to learn how to draw again basically, now I only use photobashing techniques if its absolutelly necessary to add slight amount of information which would be almost impossible to paint digitally

  • Marcos Teixeira says:

    Everybody here talking like they really know the stuff. I'm just saying, this guy might know a thing or two…

  • El Beano says:

    I just tried using other brushes and wow it makes a difference

  • I Draw 4FUN says:

    I thought this is some new unskippable ad to be honest.

  • CellarDayCats says:

    well you're using a high end graphics tablet…use a more cheaper one then tell us what to and not to do…

  • Osckiie says:

    I use toon boom 🙁

  • Bren Karl says:

    His art style is a ugly tho 😹

  • Michael LaViola says:

    Jesus the cringe…
    I guess this guy hasn't seen the Concept Art Is Dead talk

  • Katsune says:

    That Wacom flex at the end tho.

  • Barret XIII says:

    The greatest sin with Digital painting?
    The existent of cheapskate clients.
    "Why should I pay THAT much?! It's just a drawing, and your computer does most of the work anyway!"

  • Santosh Bhangle says:

    One of the biggest sins in digital painting imo is using an uncalibrated monitor….

  • Mritunjay Varun says:

    i think the biggest sin is jumping straight into digital world without actually feeling the traditional media ,which will always be the king ,dosent matter how much the world becomes digital ,so i think thats it

  • JesMan says:


  • Mordekhay88 says:

    Number 5… It's noy always impatience… Maybe they can't afford buying real paint, brushes and canvases. :/

  • Jimmy SCOTT says:

    Wow! I actually never considered these things before. This video for sure saved me. I will now try to practice more with avoiding these mistakes. Thank you. 🙂

  • Bryan says:

    Damn, the amount of hate on these tips. I agree with most of these tips but I feel like these mistakes are not elaborated on enough. And it seems like people forget that it takes someone good in digital painting to break these rules, or someone practicing in a softer style such as anime and cartoons. Other than that I feel that this is more focused on art students because I see this mistake happen all the time in my peers work. And as far as the eyedropping colors, I feel that sampling colors just creates a flat render because it shows a lack of understanding in color theory. But I think the ultimate sin is not having mastery in the simple 3D forms, not having mastery in the simple forms takes away from the whole experience, because it may look pretty but if the underlying forms are flawed it distracts from everything else.

  • Rapid Fire says:

    1.don't get too much influenced by others on youtube
    2.take your time
    3.learn how the brushes work
    As a beginner you should really dont play around to much with such powerful programs. I began digital art with windows paint and a mouse and it worked well.
    Trying hundreds of methods of painting will kill your workflow and maybe your passion!

  • Round says:

    No links to brushes?

  • Ollissa The Struggle Artist says:

    Not careless just lazii lol

  • Benjamin Austnes Narum says:

    A "better" way to use the eyedropper tool, is to sample colours as a matter of reference. Many misunderstand values and colour temperature of light/shadow, and a common error is the "bright white highlight," for example. If you're starting out, or you're just unsure, picking the highlight on the nose can make you see where the general value/temp is, so you can make a mental note of it. What appears BRIGHT in one area, might be considered DARK in another. So pick around to see where they fall on the colour grid.

  • Mobile Guy says:

    S M E A R T O O L

  • Care Cup says:

    Life is so short and I wanna learn too much stuff.

  • white liberals R D roots of all evil says:

    You forgot the horns @ 0:52

  • jetsonjoe says:

    Another great presentation…how about a show using Procreate!?

  • No One says:

    3:01 hm true

  • b.r8 says:

    The greatest sin in digital art is using Microsoft paint

  • psholic says:


  • DrakonofDeathRoses says:

    I usually can't afford the paint but have everything else.

  • Joris Van Staveren says:

    In painting there are no mistakes only happy accidents, btw there is no good or bad in art so rendering the point of this video kinda useless

  • Kiara says:

    Hur Dur You MUST do traditional art. Total bullshit.

  • Tommy BRO says:

    I always repented for my artistic sins.

  • Husni Arsyah says:

    Hard to say.., for some aspect i might agree, while other aspect is has different approach for every artist..
    This metodes might advantaged for intermediate artist, but for learning.. you need to do more mistakes to understand that..

  • Peter Henrichsen says:

    Super tips! Thanks SO MUCH! 🙂

  • Sprinkle of Suga says:

    I feel like some of these points are really good and others aren't really that helpful. For example, the airbrush definitely has its uses. For my lineless work, I use the airbrush to lay down the colors first, and then refine the hard edges with a different brush. Of course you should never use the airbrush for the entire picture because it looks very amateur, even if your proportions and style are otherwise solid. Also you don't need to use a million different brushes (or even fancy downloaded brushes) to make your art look good. I usually use one brush for sketching, another one or two if I'm doing lineart or another three or four if I'm doing lineless, and some extras for the finishing touches. But hey, everyone's different. What works for one artist might not work for another.

  • Николай Ханзо says:

    Sorry, but traditional painting costs a lot of money.

  • XxGoodSpiritxX says:

    Here people want to know truth read the real stuff

  • Devan Harripersad says:

    I think this guy is delusional , their are no rules in art dumb dumb.

  • Spin-chan Art says:

    Marco bucci >>

  • Серж Конон says:

    Мужик, ты крут, прям открыл глаза мне

  • Martin Tognon says:

    nulla di interessante …

  • KatieCanArtz says:

    I only “steal” the base color, then shade on my own… does that count as a sin?

  • Moshi UL says:

    how can I make my career from painting?

  • TheGhettochamp says:

    llol. Nice try making be be a worse artists so you can stand out. NOT GOING TO WORK!

  • Kim Jakobsen says:

    I'm such a sinner… but thanks to this video, I will now be able to repent 😉

  • Garbage Truck says:

    lmao to me i think the biggest sin in digital painting or just art in general is not believing you can do well
    like, if you dont believe in your art or think its okay, how will you improve? so many people i know want to give up on art because they dont think theyre good enough to keep going !! i learned myself that, if you start to believe what youre doing is good and that youll improve eventually and that you cannot rush in art you will become better and art will become so much easier for you.

  • Heckin Memes says:


  • Michael Schofield says:

    I find a lot of the comments about not having to start out in a traditional media first of no to little use interesting… jumping straight into painting digitally without a solid background and structure in traditional painting and drawing seems to me like learning to swim by jumping off the end of a pier into the deepest part of the ocean.

  • tatumtate says:

    Less brushes better art…my advice

  • FaunaRama says:

    I like/appreciate what you're saying I just don't care for the way you say it….

  • Kuzemaie says:

    Impatience got me good when I started out, I rushed to digital and thought it would be a smooth ride… oh boy was I in for a surprise the following 3 weeks were torture but I persevered nonetheless 👏🏼 and have yet much to learn.

  • Sharon Newman says:

    why are you painting demons like Bill rapist Clinton the thief , Kuru Merkel , Bernie sanders , Tom Hanks and Ellen? all liberal devils

  • GunnerGamezTV says:

    Art is like taking shit. There are no rules or mistakes.

  • KeeperPlus says:

    Worst digital painting mistake. Painting that German demon shakey Hedger Merkle

  • KeeperPlus says:

    Painting rapist clinton is a no no too. Is there a reason we keep having to see commu ist libtards a painting examples?

  • Daniel Palmer says:

    Greatest sin is not trying at all? Being lazy and putting art off instead of practicing every day.

  • Bunn承 says:

    Al parecer nadie entendió que estos son los consejos que el siguió para conseguir su estilo. ¿Acaso no recuerdan que cada uno de nosotros tenemos un distinto estilo y punto de vista unico? No se lo tomen tan a pecho. Sean conscientes de lo anterior. Aprenderemos de nuestros errores personales con el tiempo y constancia. .-.

  • Egg says:

    I really would get into painting traditionally but I don’t have the supplies

  • Sergei Dragunov says:

    Biggest mistake is being born poor

  • uwu says:

    When I paint digitally I use the same colour palette I’d use if I was painting with oil paints. I mix it the same way too, by placing dots of each colour and mixing it with a brush to get the colour I want. I feel like it makes colour choices look more consistent.

  • XPumpkins says:

    My no. 1 sin is using mouse to do my arts
    I'm just penniless to buy a proper digital tablets

  • Erel Le Vance says:

    lol this man thought he was flexing but it's just straight up arrogance. everybody should be allowed to make mistakes because it produces lessons, and it makes the process of discovering art more interesting and personal, and not the mention that digital painting doesn't only cover caricature. lol

  • velvetolio says:

    Yeah I agree about the colour pick tool. I used it for so many years, even when I was still studying at art school. And later for my commissions and in my work place. The reason? Time. When you need to be super fast, and I mean providing art in the matter of few hours, you have to sacrifice time you'll spend thinking what colour you see in the photo, and instead you use what is fast and what gets the job done. It's definitely not the right way to do things. In my case at some point I had to stop and go back to the basics and never pick colours straight from photos again.

  • Dakobah20 says:

    Forgive me for I have sinned lol so helpful

  • CarouselBlind says:

    warning not all of this are good advice every advice is a little bad or makes you worser

  • Ang Wei Lun says:

    lol when you have no money or space to paint in real life :p

  • Fuura Raa says:

    I honestly dissapointed

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