Preview of Final Results


Painting “The Nightmare” Photoshop Tutorial


  • Program: Photoshop CS2
  • Digital Painting-Photoshop Tutorials

Step 1 – Concept and arranging the main sketch

I draw a lot of simple sketches on computer or maybe sometimes on paper. I am going to use a an old sketch work of mine. Here is the main sketch work which I draw. If you want, you can use this sketch too.


Step 2 – The sketch

Let me show you a screenshot from the main sketch. The first character was a simple sketch for a story book illustration. I often draw a lot of simple sketches to represent the story but when I go back to look at it I realize that I would only use one of the sketches. The sketch used for this tutorial is one that I didn’t use on my other projects.


Step 3 – Setting the Canvas

For the final sketch work, Photoshop File size is 900×2158.

Here is the canvas settings:

  • Width: 900 pixels
  • Height: 2158 pixels
  • Resolution: 72 dpi

Start by creating a new document in Photoshop. Resolution can be 72 for now. Of course later I need to make it bigger to add painting details. But not now. And of course any part of this sketch will be in the final image. You need this sketch entirely for reference. So you can delete or hide the sketch layer later.


Step 4 – How to chose a brush

I usually start off with a smaller image size then increase it as I add more details. For this illustration, I’m only going to use standard brushes with different pen pressure settings. My brush settings are shown in the image below. There’s a lot of settings you can adjust for your brush in the Brushes palette (Window > Brushes). In the Other Dynamic Settings, I set the control to Pen Pressure. If you are using a pen tablet such as the Wacom, this setting will allow your tablet to be pressure sensitive. Some pen tablets also let you adjust the angle of your stroke.


Step 5 – Color palette

The second thing you want to choose is the color scheme. Here are the colors I used for this artwork. You can use the same colors and load them into your Swatches palette (Window > Swatches). If you don’t like the color scheme, you can always change it later. I want my painting to look like a nightmare scene with strange looking clouds so I chose dark blue, brown mixed with green, and some lighter shades of blue and purple. The background will be a cold navy blue.


Step 6 – Creating the Layers

When I feel that the results of my sketch is okay, I put them into layers. The sketch is on it’s own layer named “sketch”. In the image below, you can see that I have 6 layers. Naming these layers will make my work easier and faster. Painting on different layers lets you make corrections a lot easier.


Step 7 – Arranging the Background

This is the color used for my background.


I start off using the Gradient tool to create the background. Here’s the colors used for my gradient.