It's been over 5 years since I released the original digital painting 101 videos... I'm overdue for an update!  I've taken time to consider the most crucial info for new painters, and have collected it into a new page called "Getting Started".  I recognize the skills won't be new info for you long-time Ctrl+Paint fans.. but it might still be fun to check out a new take on old materials.  Whether you're new to the site, or have been coming for years, I invite you to check out the new section!  

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Half of the painting process is time spent making selections.  The lasso tool, marquee tool, pen tool - these are all ways to isolate part of your image from the rest.  Curved selections are especially tricky, and often slow down the creative process.  In this video I'll demonstrate a quick way to achieve accurate, curved, selections.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Layers are one feature that sets digital painting apart from traditional art.  Everyone has different uses for them, but 'temp layers' is a concept you'll hear me reference in dozens of Ctrl+Paint videos.  It's a simple idea, but makes clean edges and smooth transitions much easier.  

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Do you find it hard to achieve 100% pressure with your Wacom?  Is you art getting tired while painting?  There's a solution.  In this video I demonstrate a way to significantly reduce the force required to achieve 100% opacity on a Wacom tablet.  This is personally important to me, because I've narrowly avoided a repetitive stress injury (think carpal tunnel) due to long hours in Photoshop.  If you're getting tired or sore by using your tablet, it's time to fix the problem.  You're not being a noble artist by suffering through the pain.

"Half pressure" is personal preference.  You could experiment with 1/3 pressure or even less to see how it feels.  To achieve this, just use lower numbers for the first item of each pair.  500 is roughly half of 1024, but I could have entered '200' for a very aggressive reduction. 

It's worth mentioning that this technique only works for Wacom tablets on the PC.  If you know a way to make this same change on a Mac, please let us know in the comments!

I'm aware that this is 'possible' within the official Wacom properties (Customize Tip Feel Graph) - but it only allows for a 30% reduction in pressure.  I desire a 50% reduction, and I could imagine others preferring even more aggressive settings.  As an ironic side-note, the Wacom properties graph will actually display the results of the text-document fix --- it just won't let you create the change.  So it's clearly one line of code in the config software that they're unwilling to change.

Important details mentioned in the video

Preferences file path (PC):
...Users / (your name) / AppData / Roaming  / WTablet

File name:
Wacom_Tablet.Dat

Search for this text string:
PressureCurveControlPoint

Numbers to modify:
<stuff> 81  0  1023  1023  2047  2047 </stuff>

Task Manager / Services: 
Ctrl+Shift+Escape  
(Don't forget to stop the service before modifying the text file)

Free text editor - Notepad ++

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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So far we've seen channels created with lassos, the pen tool, and shape layers.  Though these are the most common methods, some tricky shapes require an entirely different strategy: channels.  This video shows how to use alpha channels to create complex selections.  I'll be the first to admit that channels are confusing, and don't immediately appeal to illustrators.  Hopefully this short video will change your opinion!

If you find this topic interesting, make sure to check out Edge Control to learn more advanced techniques!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Selections help you isolate one portion of the image from the rest - enabling you to 'paint inside the lines'.  So far, in this mini series, creating selections has looked a lot like careful outline tracing.  In this video I'll explore an alternate approach to creating complex selections: selection 'building'.  

If you find this topic interesting, make sure to check out Edge Control to learn more advanced techniques!

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AuthorMatt Kohr

The pen tool is great.  But it's intimidating for many beginners - and I was one of them.  As I've spent more years painting, I've learned to love this unusual tool.  Especially for creating precise selections, the pen tool is a crucial ally.  So let's see what it's capable of!

If you find this topic interesting, make sure to check out Edge Control to learn more advanced techniques!

In the video I mention videos about the 'lasso tool', if you'd like to learn more - check these videos out.  

 
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AuthorMatt Kohr
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If you're coming from a drawing or painting background, it's not immediately obvious how important 'masking and selections' should be... but trust me: they're essential.  This video is the start of a mini-series exploring the tools and techniques you'll need to become fast and effective at making selections.  Stay tuned for more!

If you find this topic interesting, make sure to check out Edge Control to learn more advanced techniques!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Now that you've learned one way to paint glowing objects, get one step more advanced: groups.  Whether it's falling leaves, burning embers, or a flock of magical birds  - sometimes your glowing objects come with a crowd.  This video explores an efficient treatment for scaling up your glowing effects.  

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Certain subjects are easier to paint once you know a digital 'trick'.  Glowing objects fall squarely in this camp.  In this two-part mini-series, I'll demonstrate simple Photoshop tools that help you paint glowing objects.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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You surely know 'copy and paste', but what about 'step and repeat'?.  The ideas are similar, but it's possible you're missing out on this powerful tool hidden deep in Photoshop's UI.  Like many specialized tools available to digital painters, this won't solve every problem.  But once you know what's possible, it'll occasionally save you a lot of time.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Traditional painting is often slow and deliberate.  One does well to plan colors, and composition, ahead - because late-stage changes are costly.  Digital painting plays by a different set of rules.  In this video I'll show how to radically change colors in your paintings (whether they're finished or just getting started).  What other ways do you like to change colors in an image?  We'd love to hear about it in the comments.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Digital painting allows for efficiency not available with traditional materials.  Re-using assets from a personal library is one of those benifits.  In this video we'll explore the amazing opportunitiy in Photoshop's "Custom Shapes", and how it might speed up your painting process.

This technique pairs extremely well with "locked transparent pixels", and "Clipping Masks" - so make sure to check out these related techniques:

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Drawing shapes might seem like an obvious task:  start with the outline, and then fill it in.  In this video I'll offer a much more effective alternative, that allows for quickly (and cleanly) drawing even the most complex of shapes.  

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AuthorMatt Kohr

One of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to get a 'fresh impression' of your painting.  The techniques I show in this video apply a studio art mentality to your digital process - and it's easier than it sounds!  The idea for this techniques originates with my natural tendency for 'tunnel vision'.  When this happens, I focus on smaller and smaller details of the painting- often at the expense of the larger vision.  For this reason, it's important to learn a coping mechanism for 'tunnel vision', which for me is a simple set of Photoshop shortcuts.  How do you avoid tunnel vision?

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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To Finish our blending tool mini-series, it's time to compare all three options in a real-world scenario.  In this video I show the smudge tool, mixer brush, and brush tool working together.  But everyone has their own style - what's yours?  I'd love hear your personal preference for blending tools in the comments.

Click on the image to download your copy 

Click on the image to download your copy 

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Blending is tough, so let's get familiar with all of Photoshop's options.  This video takes a look at the 'Mixer Brush'.  Just like the exercise with the Smudge tool in the previous video, I encourage you to spend a week experimenting with the Mixer Brush, and see what works best for you!

Download your copy of the mixing worksheet

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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