In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to integrate photographic elements into your digital painting to add an unbeatable sense of realism and textural detail.

Digital painting maestro Richard Tilbury shows how photography can complement your artwork without necessarily disrupting the realism of your painted aspects.

Of course, the painted image you’re creating will partly dictate the types of photos you end up using – and the act of selecting these images can be a key part of the creative process.

You’ll explore the key techniques used to blend photos into digital paintings, and the types of image adjustments that will ensure your photos work seamlessly with the digitally painted elements.

You’ll also learn how blending modes and brush selections can play a crucial role in integrating photos. These are important techniques within digital painting – particularly in concept work, for example for computer game environments – and can be hugely effective when it comes to enhancing your images. When used together, the tricks you’ll learn will help you add richness, vitality and believability to your artworks.

01. Start by creating a new canvas in Photoshop measuring 4691-x-3508 pixels, with a resolution of 300dpi. Now using only greyscale brushes (black to white) start to block in your composition very roughly, thinking in terms of tonal values and where you want to place your light source.