Bookmarks of a tutorial addict: Best free digital painting tutorials
Many artists starting out tend to devour as many tutorials as possible. They feast upon online tutorials like orcs on hobbits, learning techniques of the pros, what brushes they use, which software is better between Photoshop and Painter, and so on. This is not a good thing. They’re generally less important than the countless hours that many budding artists seem to invest in them, though that said, I do think that tutorials has its place for learning.
For those looking to improve their craft through free tutorials, mentioned below are some of the best resources around the web. Rather than listing individual tutorials, I’m showcasing websites that offer more in-depth teachings through providing several tutorials instead of a single piece. However, I want to seriously caution every artist: learn from tutorials, yes, but do more doing, and less watching.
In the near future, we’ll be presenting tutorials from some of the best digital artists around the world, but for now enjoy these amazing free tutorials, and don’t forget to post your comments below!
If I had to pick just one site to recommend for free tutorials, the FZD website is it. FZD is a concept art school run by Feng Zhu, and he posts some of the valuable insights he teaches in his class, making it available for free online! Feng Zhu has an impressive résumé, having worked with the likes of Industrial Light+Magic, Warner Brothers, Lucasfilm, alongside well known names such as James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. He is also a natural at teaching, capable of describing the most abstract thoughts and translating them into tips and detailed instructions effortlessly. The website is a must-bookmark for any digital artist, beginners and pros alike.
Bonus: More artworks and tips can be found on Feng Zhu’s blog.
The site isn’t as kinky as it might sound to some of you younger visitors. It does contain some artistic nudity, but it is a valuable resource blog. The blogger is artist Xia Taptara, who has worked with companies such as ArenaNet and NCsoft. The website also contains some premium tutorials which are more in-depth than the majority of the free ones, however, some of the free ones do offer detailed insights. Along with tutorials, idrawgirls.com also contains information on drawing books, as well as a place to showcase your own artwork.
A popular artist who regularly graces the pages of ImagineFX magazine and comic books, Saejin Oh posts many tutorials on his personal blog. Updates have been rare of late, but any of the previously posted tutorials will still prove invaluable to many artists, especially those with a love for animes.
Amazing concept artist Carlos Cabrera provides hours of free tutorial videos showing viewers how to turn conceptual work into finished products from scratch. These are top-quality videos that would normally cost you a steep price to purchase.
Bonus: Here are a few older tutorials by Carlos that are available on his portfolio website.
Daniel Lieske is the renowned creator of the Wormworld Saga online graphic novel. He recently finished a kickstarter campaign, and as a reward for meeting the goal, Daniel published a four-part tutorial on his painting process. If you love his work as much as I do, this set of tutorial is a great treat!
Sandara is a relatively new artist with a knack for teaching. All of her tutorials provide useful information, especially her four-part tutorial taking a sketch to its polished finish.
With experience in comics, movies, and video games, Roberto Campus has a wealth of experience in the digital art field, and lucky for us, he shares those knowledge with the world.
Another regular of ImagineFX magazine, with over 50 tutorials available on his website, Henning Ludvigsen provides many step-by-step tutorials. He has also worked with numerous big names such as Warhammer 40K, Eidos, and Fantasy Flight Games. Check out his website and tutorials if you want to see what it takes to work with such companies.
There are some great fundamental tutorials provided here. Eyes and skin tone tutorials are frequent requests by budding artists, and the ones provided here are some of my favorites.
Bonus: Tucked away in her gallery’s scrapbook is this beautiful step-by-step progress shots of one of her glorious works.
Udon Comics no doubt is filled with talented artists, and here we have yet another member kind enough to provide tutorials. These are less detailed than the tutorials above, and the level of useful information vary widely, but there are enough nuggets of wonderful insights to merit its mention.
Jim’s style has an old-school animation feel to it, expertly handled with a personal touch. I find that I’m captivated by his style, and we’re lucky that he posts several tutorials on his blog. He is yet another member of the Udon crew.
Bonus: Here’s an old but informative tutorial buried in drawn.ca’s archive.
Along with the tutorials mentioned above, youtube is also a good resource to find some quick video tutorials. Finding great tutorials through searching their website can be painstaking, but could result in finding a gem.
Pose Maniacs is a blog containing a variety of poses useful for reference.
For dynamic poses, Cathleen Tarawhiti is my go-to reference site. It takes an artist to understand the kinds of dynamic poses another artist might possibly want, and Cathleen takes photographs of just that. Browse her galleries and let your heart jump in glee!
Whether used for reference, or matte painting, CG Textures provides free textures of everyday objects, and even some creatures.
Conclusion and parting advice regarding tutorials
As you can see, there are plenty of great tutorials available for free, many that are as good if not better than premium ones. This is great for all of us artists, however, once again I feel I should stress the importance of practice. Be careful to not get so sucked in to searching for a perfect tutorial that gives you all the answers you need, that you miss out on actual drawing time. No such tutorial exists. Practice practice practice. Be observant, go to parks and reserves, attend life-drawing classes, and then practice and practice some more. That’s what it really takes.
Find a balance between learning through tutorials, and actually creating artwork. That is the most important lesson of all.
As always, let us know your thoughts and post your comments below!