Photoshop: Quick & Easy Digital Painting Like a Professional

Create professional-looking digital paintings using powerful brush tools in Photoshop, even if you "can't draw."
4.5 (45 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a
course's star rating by considering a number of different factors
such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the
likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
1,148 students enrolled
Instructed by Kristen Palana Design / Design Tools
86% off
Take This Course
  • Lectures 23
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
Wishlisted Wishlist

How taking a course works


Find online courses made by experts from around the world.


Take your courses with you and learn anywhere, anytime.


Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.

About This Course

Published 4/2016 English

Course Description

Course Updated: January 14, 2017.
This quick and dirty course will help you make original, custom digital paintings and illustrations using Adobe Photoshop (or any similar program) in just a matter of minutes that look professional and can be used online, in videos and animations, or for print purposes such as on a poster, letterhead, even a T-shirt or other products.

*Please note that free 30 day trial versions of Photoshop are available for download from Adobe's website.

Save money making your own unique digital images and illustrations (and stop paying others to do them for you) and develop skills that can help you start making money creating professional-looking images for others. You can also use these simple techniques to make unique images and illustrations as free gifts for friends and family.

You also don't need to know how to draw. There are actually a HUGE number of graphic designers who CAN NOT draw... but they make up for it by using techniques like the ones in this course and naturally, learning more about layout design, composition, color, typography, and other fundamentals of visual literacy.

You can decide how much time you will spend on each image which will then affect your end results. As you do more and more, you can be cranking these out in a matter of minutes and could actually make a little illustration/digital painting business creating these for others on websites like Fiverr, Elance, and other freelancing websites.

What Students Are Saying:

"A great course by a great instructor. It was amazing to see the making of an image, with all the techniques, attention to detail, and also to hear the thinking process behind each decision. I found it stimulating and inspiring." -Robin Scanlon


I'm a tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media and the Program Director of Film & Digital Media at The American University of Rome and a practicing award-winning multimedia artist.

I have over 16 years of experience teaching students all over the world using my tried and true custom approach (turning complex information into something simple, memorable, easy-to-understand in as short amount of time as possible) to ensure that you get the
most important, relevant, and useful information that can be applied immediately to your art, work, and everyday life.

New bonus lectures and resources will continue to be added and timely design advice will be provided in the discussion forum. I love to help and always respond to inquiries and discussions ASAP.

Please Note: All students who enroll in this course also will receive periodic free and discounted access to my other top-rated current and upcoming courses.

You have a 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee with no questions asked so you have nothing to lose. I make myself available so you will have access to me if you have questions or need specific feedback along the way.

Empower yourself now by enrolling in this digital painting course and join our growing learning community!

Click the "Take This Course" button in the upper right corner and let's get started building your digital painting, software, and design skills today.

What are the requirements?

  • Bring an open mind, a willingness to learn new tricks, and a copy of Photoshop. Free trial versions are also available at Adobe's site.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Create powerful digital images that can be displayed online or in print, presented as unique gifts, or as part of your own freelance design business.
  • Harness the power of intelligent brush and eraser tools to mimic the unique qualities of paint on the computer.
  • Understand how to create effective images that use original or copyright-free photographs as a starting point.
  • Gain intermediate to advanced illustration skills based on simple tools and easy to learn techniques
  • Have a solid undertsanding of basic digital painting methods to create images used as stills or later in multimedia and animated projects.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is for anyone looking to add new tricks and techniques to their artmaking toolbelt.
  • This course is for traditional artists who would like to learn to make digital work, illustrators, as well as so-called "non-creatives" who think they "can't draw."
  • This is NOT an in-depth Photoshop course. A selection of tools and techniques are discussed in depth for creating digital paintings but this course doesn't cover EVERY feature available in Photoshop.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to this course! Please take a moment to learn how I can help you, who the course is for (pretty much anyone regardless of experience or skill level), and what you can expect to gain after having taken this course. Are you ready to add new professional-looking images to your portfolio, website, and social media pages? Let's get started!

How to Get the Most Out of This Course

In this lesson, we'll have a look at the kinds of images you can make in Photoshop using simple tools and techniques. Whether you prefer to draw from memory, observation, or to use a photograph as your starting point, you can use the tools and techniques covered in this course to make images for yourself or others quickly and easily at your own pace and in your own way.

Section 2: Diving Into Photoshop and Its Painting Tools

In this lesson we will set up a new file. I'll discuss choosing settings for print or the web and which I recommend and use personally when creating my own images in Photoshop.


In this lesson, (optional for those who already are familiar with Photoshop,) I'll go over tools like stylus pens you might consider using if you have access, essential windows and panels you will need, and talk about the basic brush tool and its various settings.


The Mixer Brush Tool is by far my favorite addition to the newer versions of Photoshop. For years I used other programs trying to best get the paint mixing effect you would get in an actual painting studio. No longer! Photoshop's Mixer Brush Tool will get you painting without the toxic fumes and mess to clean up ASAP.

I'll also discuss a few other settings and tips that affect regular brushes as well.


Most of us have used eraser tools in imaging programs but have not given much thought to how to use them in a more painterly way. What does this mean? Let me demonstrate in this lesson! 

6 questions

This quiz will reinforce what you learned (or reviewed) in Section #2.

Section 3: Time For Action. Let's Make a Digital Painting Together!

In this lecture I'll let you know what you need to get started according to your preferred way of taking this course, by either copying what I do exactly or by choosing your own unique image to work with and just using the techniques I cover.


In this lesson I'll show you how to bring in a photo, scale and adjust it, modify it with the filter gallery (the non-cheesy way), and how to use "Save As" to preserve the various versions of your budding digital painting.


In this lesson we will finally get started painting in a layer just below our photo's layer.


In this lecture I'll make a new layer and starting painting OVER my photograph. When I get really absorbed in my illustrations, at times I may have up to 10 or more over and under paintings where I adjust and play around with the opacity settings. You can be as simple or complex as you'd like. In this course, I'll keep it simple.


In this lesson I'll show you how to add a black line drawing layer if that is the kind of look you are going for. Otherwise, if you want your image to look more painterly and less like a comic, stained-glass window, German-Expressionist piece, etc. then you can skip this step.


In this lesson I will "eat away" at my photograph with a "spluttery" eraser so that the under-painting will begin to show through. You can control how little or how much this is the case as well as the opacity settings of all your layers. The combinations and variations are endless!

Polishing and Finishing Up: Using Sponge, Dodge, and Burn Tools to Finalize
Section 4: Intermediate and Advanced Ways You Can Use These Techniques (Case Study)

In this lecture I'll show you a slightly more complex way to work with the techniques discussed in this course. In particular I'll show you a selection of images I illustrated for the childrens' book, Lori Leak Travels to Paris by Barrett Clemmensen Powell.

In them I used combinations of photographs arranged in a collage before beginning the painting and drawing techniques.


In this lesson you will tour all the layers that went into a Lori Leak illustration. I'll talk about my image-making process and give you hints so you can get started making more intermediate to advanced digital paintings using similar methods.


I can already hear you ask your next question. "How do I cut, paste, and collage photos in Photoshop like you did in the Lori Leak illustrations?" This lecture will walk you through the process step by step. Make sure to click on the downloads/resources tab to get the blog post with all the free images you can use.

Section 5: Extra: Start Promoting Your Work Online By Starting a FREE Online Store

In this extra bonus case study lesson, see how easy it is to display and sell your favorite finished digital paintings and illustrations by creating your own FREE online store. See how an online store can make you more discoverable, and how it can cause new fans and future freelance clients to find and contact you later.

This is a sample lesson from my full, in-depth course, Freelance Success For Artists -A Quick and Easy Guide.


In this extra bonus lesson, see how easy it is to link up your new online store to your website and social media pages and how they all work together to generate web traffic, make you more discoverable online, and how it can cause new fans and future freelance clients to find and contact you later.

This is a sample lesson from my full, in-depth course, Freelance Success For Artists -A Quick and Easy Guide.

Section 6: Appendix: Resources/ Credits

Here is my big list from my website of 75+ Resources to Get FREE Images, Music, and Videos For Your Projects.

The images, music, and videos on this list are from the Public Domain or have Creative Commons licenses. Make sure to double check the terms on each site and for each image to ensure you are using them correctly. In some cases you may need to provide attribution (credit) to the creator (for many Creative Commons licenses), though for Public Domain works, no attribution is needed.

Happy Painting!


Thanks to Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech for providing such a great variety of royalty-free music samples. This is where I list the titles and the CC3 license. I highly recommend you look up his work if you need music for your own projects. 

Section 7: Conclusion, Thank You, and Bonuses

Thanks so much for taking this course. I hope to see you in my online classroom again soon. Best wishes and please stay in touch! Kristen


This lecture will point students towards freebies and discounts, other courses and books, as well as show how to stay in touch.

Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed

  • Loading
  • Loading
  • Loading

Instructor Biography

Kristen Palana, Professor, Award-Winning Artist, & Digital Do-Gooder

My goal is to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

I'm an American/Portuguese multimedia artist and educator recently based in Rome, Italy and a tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media at The American University of Rome where I also co-founded its Film and Digital Media Program. I have over 15 years of university teaching experience in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Since July of 2016 I live and work in Yangon, Myanmar and am a Visiting Associate Professor at American University of Myanmar.

Besides teaching tens of thousands of students at Udemy and other online platforms, I'm also a Course Facilitator for the UN-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica) through their Centre For Executive Education.

My work is exhibited internationally and online and has received a number of awards. I received my MFA from Pratt Institute in Computer Graphics and Interactive Media and also hold a BFA in Painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

I love taking complex topics and making them simple. I'm currently researching 21st century learning methods and technologies and am enjoying exploring the world of online teaching and connecting with diverse groups of students from all over the world.

What can I help you with today?

Ready to start learning?
Take This Course