Photoshop tutorial - making a digital portrait using Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.

Digital Portrait Art

Intense guy - pencil sketch - beforePhotoshop portrait - after
Pencil sketch - before and after Photoshop!

Above is a portrait I recently completed. I could whine about how there are certain details in the face that I don't like (complain complain) but I won't do that. I am showing this drawing because I think it illustrates what amazing things can be done with Photoshop. You can start with a humble little pencil sketch, and end up with something quite different, when you use Photoshop!

I know I can't give every detail of what I did to create this portrait in Photoshop. I didn't do anything terribly complicated, but it was a bit convoluted! This portrait was created in Photoshop 6, using both a mouse and a Wacom digital tablet.

I started out with a simple pencil sketch that was about 5x7" in size. I scanned this sketch into Photoshop. I liked the way it looked when it was reversed, so I quickly did that in Photoshop. I also cropped it in a little closer.

I then "colorized" the pencil sketch by using "Image > Adjust > Hue/Saturation." This made the monochromatic (black and white) sketch into a rich brown. I then started adding layers on top of this base sketch layer.

I painted flesh tones over the entire face on a new layer. I lowered the opacity a little, so I could see the sketch underneath. Then I used a layer mask to uncover the eyes, nose, mouth underneath the flesh tone I'd painted.

I made several copies of the tinted sketch on new layers. I then changed these copies of the sketch by using "Image > Adjust > Hue/Saturate." I made a version of the sketch that was tinted a purple hue. I also made one sketch layer copy really dark and low contrast, by adjusting the "contrast" in "Image > Adjust."

I tweaked each of these "tinted" drawing layers, changing opacity, and using layer masks. I wanted these sketch layers to appear to blend together. I wanted the purple-tinted layer to show in the shadow area, for instance, while the rich brown tinted layer was left showing in the lighter areas. I used layer masks to achieve this effect. A layer mask covered up one tinted layer, allowing other tinted layers show through in certain areas of the face (light areas, shadow areas, etc.).

I ended up with quite a few layers in the end. I used a soft brush to add shading and tinting on new layers. Many of them were simple "touch up" layers, where I was adding a detail to the eyes, a highlight to the nose, etc. I often put these kind of touch up details on their own layer, so they are easy to discard if I mess up.

You can see by this screenshot that I broke my own rule, and didn't name each layer descriptively. I honestly didn't think the layers would get so out of hand! But I ended up with at least 16 layers. Scary.


Photoshop drawing
Another Photoshop portrait. I created this a while ago, with Photoshop 5.5 and a Wacom tablet. I didn't really know much about Photoshop when I created this portrait. I just drew it in, adding layers occasionally, and using filters for the face, background and clothing. Pretty uncomplicated, but I had a great time with it!

See another "step-by-step" Photoshop tutorial on my sister site.

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