Painting Advice Needed

Need help. I’d like my paintings to look less saturated and more photoreal yet the way I render them makes it rather obvious that it is a DIGITAL painting. I’d like to paint in such a way that makes my art look more photoreal in Krita. What could I do to fix this? I hope I’m clear.

Hard to say, but maybe some general suggestions. Simply, mimic real painting as much as you can. For instance choose brushes that are realistic. Never erase, only add more strokes. And use one layer only, as on a real canvas. And add some paperlike structure to the background.

The you could try a trick to get the colors harmonized or unified. Add a layer on top on everything. Fill it with for instance yellow - orange. Change layer mode to color. Lastly, decrease the layer opacity to 10-20%.

Hope to hear more advice.

Could you post a piece you’ve made for an example? If you paint everything saturated, things don’t look “realistic”, but few saturated parts make things pop

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Ok @KIRE and @Troken this is something I’m currently working on as an example of my problem.


Ok I’m guessing you wanted to depict coloured lighting. If that’s the case: Look up some reference.
Noah and Rachel Bradley released a cool ref-bundle on it:
If you’re just trying to colour and use hue as a style choice: Then your values are wrong. The more saturated a colour becomes, the value goes darker. Try this: Make a completely black layer, set it to color and put it on the top. Now you have a black&white picture. Now, just pick anything you want from the colour picker and as long as the value is correct, it doesn’t matter how saturated or what colour it is: it’ll look right.
If you can’t paint realistic faces in greyscale(B&W), just practive that. Ignore colour altogether at first.


First, nice drawing!

Second, most real paintings have more structure, both in brushes and on the canvas. That is probably one reason you don’t get that real-painting-feeling.

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It’s also possible to set the color picker to CMYK while leaving the image itself as RGB. It’s not perfect but a trick I sometimes use to help me pick more “realistic” colors in the sense of colors like in photographs or printed media.

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what you need to understand for photo realism is lighting and nothing else and then how it bounces off materials but skin is the hardest thing to do because it has loads of sub-surf-scattering (SSS). i would recommend doing objects before humans.

Thanks for the tips @KIRE

I was trying to do the latter which is to use the hue as a style choice which was essentially an experiment. I don’t usually paint this way but I added the hues & decided to keep it. I haven’t added the values as yet. What you see is what is under the Hues but I plan to adjust this for the final thing.

I can paint in B&W by the way.

@Troken thanks for responding. Could you clarify what you mean by structure both in brushes and on the canvas please

Thanks @EyeOdin
I’m aware that lighting is important. I haven’t sorted that yet for this painting. I used to shade with drawing pencils & charcoal sticks so I understand values. What I really wanted to know was how to get my paintings to not look so “Bright” & “Cartoony” or look obviously Digital art-ish. But @KIRE mentioned that too much saturation doesn’t give a real feel. I get that. But even before I edit my paintings and I’m just starting to paint I find that they look too bright. I’m wondering if it’s the type of brushes I’m using or even HOW I use them that causes my work to look that way.

Thanks @Takiro
I’ll try this

Thanks for the help everyone. I appreciate this alot

Sorry, my bad, I’m not a native English speaker :smile:

I mean texture. Use a brush with bristles, or other features that resembles real life brushes. And id say try brushes that has a blend feature. There are several in Krita. It’ll make the colors blend more naturally.

And try a textured canvas. A background layer with an old paper or other texture. Alternatively a layer on top of the rest with the texture. Play around with layer mode and opacity for that layer.

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Well it is was me I would probably grab a good artist work or a photograph and steal their pallette and try to draw kindda like them to give that feel, I kinda have the same issue and after I finish doing my script I will be doing that.

Light is more than “just values”, there are many things we take for granted when we see skin but we dont know what they even are to begin with, because it is automatic for us to see it and interpret it. I just understand light because I come from a 3d background not because I paint it already I have a hard time to paint skin too I am just aware of where I need to go to do the same thing. This is true because light is a “physical concept” not a artistic one. you can make your own lighting but it won’t be real light anymore and everyone will notice it, you get what I mean?

well at least that is my 2 cents on it.

I know this might not be the best video for you but it was one of my references for now:


@Troken thank you very much.

Yo, me nuh undastan everyting weh yuh seh enuh but dat aguh come wid time

(lol, what I just said is that I don’t understand all that you’ve shared but my understanding will come with time).

Thank you for going the extra mile to send me a video on lighting. You guys are tremendously helpful in this forum.


well the video explains the difference between bad lighting and good lighting in rendering (before and after filmic addon in this case) and also talks about cameras not in depth but enough to understand the core basics of the histogram and how it affects the perception of it. this is a good abstraction because with the same scene and objects if the lighting is better they look more believable.

I have seen quite some videos on the topic of rendering and I always get the feeling you need to get the “REALLY GOOD” videos to find basic information about lighting and such. in 3D stuff like is just exposed to you by default. Either way … artists when they go to art school the first year usually comprises of you drawing “still life” to achieve and grasp that same concept. I must say I do feel alot of limitation when painting light by hand.

if you want topics to search for I would google stuff like:
Ambient Occlusion, Projected Shadows, Ambient Light, Sub Surf Scattering, Light Bounces

these concepts will give you a good foundation before you see “artist” videos on how to paint and then get stuck “on the way the way that works for you because you were taught that way”. I see so many people drawing people with the same light set up regardless of context as if they are just baked on their skin (baked is light that is painted on the skin like a weird tattoo), I think if you avoid the “it is my style argument” you will always progress regardless.

Before I started scripting I was looking into painting in general and lighting because I have the same issue and I found a good video that explains all of this for painters but I have not found it yet since I dont recall its name. I will post when I find it.

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I know it’s a bit offtopic, but for me it’s kinda funny that the “Improve your art with better shadows” video thumbnail has this funny issue that the darkest area in the light are darker than the same areas in the shadow… like, how exactly his eye is lighted to get this kind of effect? :wink: What he’s talking about is somewhat true that the shadow area is where the details get blended away… but it’s because everything is dark, not because everything is midtone :wink:

For me it looks like while it’s probably just an honest mistake, I shouldn’t be too far away from the truth if I say that they remembered the rule but forgot the reason and conditions why and when it worked… which is a very dangerous thing for everyone if one learns simplified rules instead of how light actually works.