Best seller

Lighting Principles for Digital Painting

A course by Samuel Smith
Visual Development Artist. Lila, France.
Joined April 2020
, Visual Development Artist

Learn how to adapt your digital illustrations to a series of natural and artificial lighting conditions on Photoshop

  • Best seller
  • 100% positive reviews (1.1K)
  • 22786 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, Polish, Dutch

Learn how to adapt your digital illustrations to a series of natural and artificial lighting conditions on Photoshop

  • 100% positive reviews (1.1K)
  • 22786 students
  • 15 lessons (2h 22m)
  • 18 additional resources (7 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Mastering light is a skill that has fascinated artists and illustrators throughout history, for its unparalleled capacity to infuse an art piece with realism and define its atmosphere. Samuel Smith describes his fascination with light as more of an obsession, constantly analyzing his surroundings to understand how it works and apply it to his art. He has worked as a visual development artist for animations on many commercials, TV shows, and two feature films, including Klaus at SPA Studios and another upcoming animated film from Illumination Studios.

In this course, Samuel shows you how to stimulate light into your work using a logical methodology that he developed over the last two years and Adobe Photoshop to apply his simple process to five different light settings. Understand how light behaves and how it affects the elements in your work to quickly resolve any light situation.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Preparation and Theory
  • U3
    U3. Let’s Paint!
  • U4
    U4. Details, Reflections and Translucency
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Start the course by getting to know Samuel, who tells you about the artists that have influenced his work, to guide you through new discoveries and sources of inspiration.

Samuel provides a quick recap of what you’ll do in the course and shows you how he sets up his workspace. Go through the main tools you’ll be using on Photoshop, seeing some shortcuts and brushes along the way.

Next, understand how soft light differs from hard light and how it affects the objects you illustrate, to bring more realism and cohesion to your digital paintings. Samuel also introduces some key concepts such as the theory behind reflections of light sources and light diffusion.

Learn how to recognize different types of light, select the illustrations you’ll be working on, and begin painting your first scene, a bright sunny day. Go through ambient light, direct light, and bounce light, and experiment with different light directions.

Move on to painting a cloudy day, focusing on its many intricacies, such as warm colors for dark spots, very soft transitions, and more. Then, paint your character in a moonlit scene, learning about the ideal color range to give it a night feel, and how to bring more color variety into your painting.

In the next exercise, work on artificial sources of light in an interior at night. Learn about colored lights in an interior, and how they affect your setting. Follow up on another interior setting at daytime, one of Samuel’s favorite lighting situations. See how he paints soft lights on different surfaces, to give your illustration more depth and realism.

Push the realism in your paintings even further by working on the details. Learn the principles of reflection and translucency to add more texture to your work, and go back to each setting to apply what you’ve learned and give the final touches to your five illustrations.

What is this course's project?

Create five illustrations of different lighting conditions using Adobe Photoshop.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

This course is for illustrators, animators, and creatives with a beginner’s level in digital painting on Adobe Photoshop, who want to learn how to paint different lighting situations. Experienced digital painters who are interested in learning a fast and effective methodology to paint light in their work will also enjoy the course.

Requirements and materials

To take this course, you will need basic knowledge of how to work on Photoshop, as well as basic digital drawing skills.

You will need a drawing tablet and a computer with Adobe Photoshop installed.


22786 Students
1082 Reviews
100% Positive ratings
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Samuel Smith

A course by Samuel Smith

Teacher Plus
Visual Development Artist

Samuel Smith is a freelance visual development artist for animation, with a passion for igniting animation projects with light. After studying 3D animation, he started painting digitally without ever thinking he could achieve a professional level. However, after some years of hard work and dedication, continuously researching and observing his surroundings, he started to work on important animation projects and was hired by SPA, Spain, as a color artist.

He has worked on many commercials, TV shows, and two feature films: Klaus for SPA Studios and another upcoming animated film for Illumination Studios.


  • U1


    • About me
    • Influences
    • What we will do in the course?
  • U2

    Preparation and Theory

    • Workspace and brushes
    • Soft light Vs Hard light
    • Exposure, reflections and translucency
    • Preparing the drawing
  • U3

    Let’s Paint!

    • A Sunny Day - Part 1
    • A Sunny Day - Part 2
    • A Cloudy Day
    • A Starry Night
    • A Room Under Colored Light
    • A Sunny Room
  • U4

    Details, Reflections and Translucency

    • Wrapping up the sunny scene
    • Wrapping up the artificial light scene
  • FP

    Final project

    • Lighting Principles for Digital Painting

What to expect from a Domestika course

  • Learn at your own pace

    Enjoy learning from home without a set schedule and with an easy-to-follow method. You set your own pace.

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    Learn valuable methods and techniques explained by top experts in the creative sector.

  • Meet expert teachers

    Each expert teaches what they do best, with clear guidelines, true passion, and professional insight in every lesson.

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  • Get front-row seats

    Videos of the highest quality, so you don't miss a single detail. With unlimited access, you can watch them as many times as you need to perfect your technique.

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    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

  • Connect with a global creative community

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Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

If you're a Plus or PRO member, when you complete a course you'll instantly get your personalized certificate. You can see all your certificates in the Certificates section of your profile. You can download your certificates as PDFs and share the link online. Learn more about certificates
Lighting Principles for Digital Painting. Illustration course by Samuel Smith Best seller

Lighting Principles for Digital Painting

A course by Samuel Smith
Visual Development Artist. Lila, France.
Joined April 2020
  • 100% positive reviews (1.1K)
  • 22786 students