Principles of Digital Painting for Portraits

A course by Rodrigo Rivas (Ruiveran)
Illustrator and Concept Artist. Lima, Peru.
Joined July 2020
, Illustrator and Concept Artist

Learn to master lighting, shadowing, and coloring techniques to bring your illustrations to life

  • Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 97% positive reviews (122)
  • 2617 students

Learn to master lighting, shadowing, and coloring techniques to bring your illustrations to life

Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 97% positive reviews (122)
  • 2617 students
  • 15 lessons (2h 35m)
  • 26 additional resources (12 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: Spanish
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Adding realism to digital painting by combining shape and depth can be a true challenge for an artist. Using different drawing techniques, Peruvian illustrator and concept artist Rodrigo Rivas creates lifelike compositions that are transformed into unique portraits.

In this course, Rodrigo guides you through all the concepts and tools you need to create a realistic digital illustration. Start by learning about the artistic concepts behind light and shadows and see how to use them to add volume and depth to your compositions. Explore your imagination and turn your ideas into reality.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Basics of digital portraiture
  • U3
    U3. To paint!
  • U4
    U4. Final adjustments
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Get started by getting to know Rodrigo's professional career, his artistic influences, and the main techniques he uses for digital painting. Then, go through everything you will learn in this course, including an overview of the final project.

In the second unit, discover the basic principles of light, shadow, and color—the key elements of portrait art. Take a tour of Photoshop by exploring its interface and setting up keyboard shortcuts to get the most out of the software.

It's time to get down to business and start creating your digital portrait. Make a mood board that will serve as a reference for making your first sketches of the face in Photoshop. Then, map the lights and shadows of your image.

Create volume and depth in your portrait by painting shades of gray and then adding color. Rodrigo shares some tricks and tips he uses for choosing a color palette and adding details.

In the last unit, make some final adjustments to highlights and secondary highlights using the Color Dodge technique and start adjusting tonal values. Finally, learn the best way to export your image.

What is this course's project?

Create a digital portrait based on references by combining different lighting, shadowing, and coloring techniques

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

New and experienced artists who would like to improve their digital painting and portrait painting techniques.

Requirements and materials

To take this course, a basic knowledge of Photoshop is needed. You also need to be curious and have the desire to learn and develop as an artist.

As for the materials, you will need a computer with Adobe Photoshop installed, as well as a graphics tablet.


2617 Students
122 Reviews
97% Positive ratings
  • More reviews

Rodrigo Rivas (Ruiveran)

Teacher Plus
Illustrator and Concept Artist

Rodrigo Rivas is a digital illustrator and conceptual artist from Peru who is dedicated to creating characters and stories through painting. He has worked as an illustrator for advertising, editorials, storyboard animation, video games, and more.

In 2019, he was part of the campaign team for the Pan American Games in Lima and was a finalist for the 2019 National Comic Contest. Currently, he is a freelance illustrator who focuses on perfecting his techniques and sharing his personal projects on social media.


  • U1


    • Presentation
    • Influences
    • What Will We Do on the Course?
  • U2

    Basics of digital portraiture

    • Basics: secrets to a good portrait
    • Tonal values and colors
    • Using brushes and shortcuts
    • Painting the still life
  • U3

    To paint!

    • The mood board
    • The sketch
    • Raising the light with grays
    • Applying the color
    • Polishing the image
  • U4

    Final adjustments

    • Brightness and color dodge
    • Adjustment Layers
    • We export the image
  • FP

    Final project

    • Principles of digital painting for portraits

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.

  • Learn from the best professionals

    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.

  • Certificates

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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.

  • Share knowledge and ideas

    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

    The community is home to millions of people from around the world who are curious and passionate about exploring and expressing their creativity.

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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 member, when you complete a course you've purchased, 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.
Principles of Digital Painting for Portraits. Illustration course by Rodrigo Rivas (Ruiveran)

Principles of Digital Painting for Portraits

A course by Rodrigo Rivas (Ruiveran)
Illustrator and Concept Artist. Lima, Peru.
Joined July 2020
  • 97% positive reviews (122)
  • 2617 students