Lovers – The Journey of the Digital Painting

Art Digital Art

I started this digital painting as a scribble using my Wacom tablet, using the GIMP software.

It went through many revisions before I came up with this B&W image. The original idea was to keep this as the finished picture and move on to the next painting/sketch. But I decided to color this.

First I created a copy layer of the final B&W image, and removed the shading/hatching work typical to B&W image. I named with layer ‘linework’. I made all the earlier layers invisible, so that only the clean B&W image to be colored remained visible. Note that there are a few deviations from the original B&W image due to some on-the-run changes I did.

Then I created a layer called ‘Base Colors’ on top of the base linework, and started painting it with basic colors. I used a large hard round brush to loosely paint the picture in colors I wanted. For the woman’s skin tone, I used the color combination RGB=255,245,170.

while for man’s skin, it was RGB=255,241,130.

I completely filled up the shapes with colors.

Then it was time to create the background. I created a layer called ‘Background colors’ below the ‘Base colors’ layer and painted it with a large watercolor brush, covering the entire painting. I looked for areas where the background color was showing through the base colors, and cleaned up that area. In the following picture you can see the final background layer with highlights added, as I did not create a separate layer for highlights on background.

The next stage was to add shadows, to give a 3D effect and texture. I created a transparent layer called ‘shadows’ over the ‘base colors’ layer. I first chose the color from base colors layer by pressing down the Ctrl key and at the same time clicking on the desired color. Then I opened the color options box by clicking on the color, and choosing a shade slightly darker than the selected color. There are no rules for choosing the darker shade. Just go with your intuition. Depending on the lighting in picture, you may have to choose multiple dark shades corresponding to a single base color.

After the shadows were completed, and the initial view was bit clear, I made the linework layer invisible, just to get a feel of how the final picture would look without borders. The intention was to switch of the linework layer completely from the final painting, and it’s important to check the painting from time to time for this aspect. Remember that this layer is not finished yet, and all layers will be worked on and tweaked as the picture progresses.

Now I added a layer called ‘highlights’ above the shadows layer. Here, too, I first chose the colors from base layer, and lightened them a bit. The important thing to consider here is that in the shadows layer, we use the darker version of the corresponding base layer color, while in highlights layer, we use some additional colors based on the lighting and surrounding objects.

In this picture, I chose the background lighting as candle light (which fits most appropriately with the subject matter!). I used some pictures of candles downloaded from the net to understand how the candle light looks like, how it’s shaped, and how the other areas of candle are illuminated by the light.


Since the candle is shown closer to the wall, and away from the couple’s left side (facing the viewer), the wall is illuminated with the yellow light. The right side of the woman is illuminated by the candle light, casting yellow highlights on her face, body and hair. This is why her hair has a golden glow to it.

The visible part of man’s body and face is mostly in the shadows, giving it a predominantly darker shade.

I added eyelashes to the woman on a separate layer, as I did not want to take the risk of messing up her eye shape if I went wrong anywhere.

This is the final layers structure.

This is the final picture, after adding the signature!



Leave a Comment