Quick tip #1: Blend It Out

For a more natural look in your paintings blend out the edges of the hair and eyebrows where they meet the skin. Why? Hair is thinner at the roots so you can still see some skin there, that’s why it looks lighter in color. To not take away attention from the focal points of your piece by painting hairs individually (more detail = more focus), blend the hair into the skin.

When it’s not blended, hair looks like it’s sitting on the head, not growing out of it. If you are purposefully going for that cartoony look that’s perfectly fine, but if not, start blending! If it ends up being too smooth you can add extra hair strands for detail (see in the video).

Different ways to blend

That isn't a soft round brush

I use the soft round brush sparingly in my process because it creates an airbrushed look that’s not quite my style. I think a little bit of texture or edge in the brush makes for a visually more interesting painting.

You can blend with mixer brush, smudge tool or manually by picking colors with the eyedropper tool. The key is to paint with a light hand taking advantage of the pen pressure of your tablet. If you’re not used to it just bring down the opacity on your brush to 40% or lower.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need fancy brushes to blend or paint for that matter. For weeks now I’ve been painting with an HB pencil brush. And I don’t plan to switch anytime soon! Specific brushes can help you do the work faster, but they’re in no way a necessity.

Note: You can use any kind of brush as a smudge or mixer brush tool. Here I used a texture brush from Ross Tran, you can download it for free from here.


Most of the time I pick colors with the eyedropper tool and paint them manually using a textured brush. It takes a bit longer, but I have more control over the texture and I can paint in subtle hue changes which makes the painting more interesting. (In Photoshop hold down Alt key to switch to eyedropper tool and click to select a color. Let go of it to return to the brush.)

Hope you find this useful. Let me know if you try it.

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