Digital Painting Techniques in Photoshop
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Digital Painting Techniques in Photoshop

Feb 22, 2019
Video Length:  1:15:57
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

Join us this Friday for a lesson in digitally painting a landscape plan. We will be taking a plain CAD drawing created with Land F/X and turning it into a rendered spectacle. Working with Photoshop and a drawing tablet, we’ll make the plan look as if it were created using traditional art media such as watercolors and markers.



Files used in this webinar (downloadable zip files):

Double-click the downloaded files to unzip them.


Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
  • Introduction of Tools
  • Initial Setup
  • Painting in Photoshop

0:00 – 2:59: Intro/TOC

3:00 – 7:26: Introduction of Tools

Drawing tablet (Gaomon PD1560 15.6) (3:05)


Customizable tablet buttons (4:06)


Benefits of using a tablet instead of a mouse (5:40):

  • Ability to draw naturally and have it translate to the screen
  • Pressure sensitivity settings allow for varieties in line thickness
  • Smoothing setting can correct shakiness and result in straighter lines

7:27 – 11:11: Initial Setup

Preliminary steps (7:27):

  • Landscape plan created with Land F/X
  • Plotted drawing layers as separate PDF documents
  • Combining these PDFs in Photoshop and organizing the layers into layer groups
  • Creation of a custom swatches and color library for the color palette to be used


For an overview of these steps, see our Using Photoshop in Post-Production Renderings webinar.


Separate PDFs were plotted for the following items as CAD drawings (8:32):

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Boulders
  • Amenities
  • Groundcovers
  • Pavement
  • Ground linework


Tutorial files (downloadable zip files)(10:44)

Double-click the downloaded files to unzip them.

11:12 – end: Painting in Photoshop

Opening an existing color palette (12:00)



Concrete, hardscape, and paving (12:50)


Starting “from the ground up” when painting (12:50)


Hiding all layers except the one you plan to work on (13:05)


Isolating a concrete area with the Magic Wand tool and painting that area (13:28)


Selecting and painting with a brush (14:45)


Blending two painted colors (16:20)


Working with hatches (17:50)


Adding a stroke and a filter to a hatch layer (18:30)


Selecting the Overlay option for a hatch layer and changing its opacity (19:15)


Creating a decomposed granite walkway (20:00)


Adding a textured layer (example: light sand) to a base color to produce a textured effect (20:40)



Groundcover (23:30)


Painting the groundcover areas to give them a hand-drawn look (23:30)



Swale, creek bed, and boulders (30:00)


Adding a swale and creek bed (30:00)


Adding a drop shadow (31:25)


Adding and painting boulders (34:55)


Adding drop shadows (38:25)


Adding water to the creek bed (38:40)


Creating a shadow effect in the water (40:20)


Adding a shimmer and ripple effect to the water (42:00)



Amenities (43:50)


Painting a roof (44:30)



Shrubs (50:00)


Creating shrub massing (50:20)


Painting the shrub massing with a watercolor brush (53:00)



Trees (54:20)


Coloring in several trees simultaneously (54:40)


Copying a tree layer and adding a stroke to thicken and close the tree boundaries (55:00)


Adding highlights to trees (57:25)


Creating a tree template and copying it around the drawing (59:40)


Creating a larger tree with a translucent canopy (1:03:40)


Paul’s favorite brushes (1:11:37):

  • Hard round pressure brush (linework or solid colors, lines with varying widths)
  • Soft brushes (blend colors – with opacity dropped)
  • Bristle brush (dots and spots)
  • Rounded watercolor and salted watercolor (nice watercolor texture, and good for blending when the opacity is dropped)
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