Best seller

Digital Painting for 2D Illustration

A course by Matt Sanz
Visual Development Artist. London, United Kingdom.
Joined August 2020
, Visual Development Artist

Learn how to create conceptual story-driven illustrations for video games and animation

  • Best seller
  • 98% positive reviews (179)
  • 4739 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

Learn how to create conceptual story-driven illustrations for video games and animation

  • 98% positive reviews (179)
  • 4739 students
  • 23 lessons (4h 37m)
  • 12 additional resources (5 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

From a very young age, Matt Sanz has always been the creative of the group, whether drawing the latest anime character or illustrating a colorful dragon for a friend. His experience led him to pursue his dream of becoming a digital artist, working with brands and animation studios like BOB, Friday Sundae, IGG, and Amazon Games to create video games and other interactive work.

Today, Matt is a visual development artist, receiving design briefs and helping creative ideas go from concept to completion. In this course, learn the fundamentals for producing a story-driven concept that can be developed into an animation or video game. Discover Matt’s tricks and tips for using balanced compositions and bold color palettes to create stylized visual art that brings imaginary worlds to life.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Preparation and Defining the Goal
  • U3
    U3. Rendering Our Design 1
  • U4
    U4. Rendering Our Design 2
  • U5
    U5. Clean up, Details and Post-production
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Start your course by getting to know your teacher, visual development artist Matt Sanz. He explains the artists and influences that have inspired him over the years and gives you a quick overview of what will be taught throughout this course.

In the next unit, Matt goes through his Photoshop setup and explains some of his favorite shortcuts. Learn to define the objective of your final image by understanding what a color key is and how it can be used to create impactful personal and professional projects. Then, create a reference board based on the subject you’ve chosen for your final project.

Now it’s time to explore your idea using the techniques laid out by Matt. Start drawing thumbnails and practice some fundamentals of composition, including the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, pyramid composition, and visual balance. Learn to develop color keys and make digital retouches to your image.

Learn how to block out the flats and define the shapes, two foundational steps that help define the major elements of an illustration and prepare it for the painting stage. See how to apply simple light and shadow layers to the painting as a way to analyze their values. Then, start rendering your image and adding color that accurately represents the light and shadows.

To wrap things up, discover Matt’s tricks for post-processing images, including tips for balancing color throughout the image. Learn how to maximize the quality of your image and see some easy-to-apply techniques for displaying and sharing your work online.

What is this course's project?

Create a story-driven illustration, from the brief and first sketches to painting it digitally.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in 2D illustration or digital illustration in general, especially if they hope to form part of a visual development team.

Requirements and materials

To take this course, some basic skills in Photoshop or another digital painting software is nice to have. Also, an interest in 2D art or visual development of any kind.

Regarding materials, you will need a computer or tablet with Photoshop or another software for digital drawing and painting.


4739 Students
179 Reviews
98% Positive ratings

Matt Sanz

A course by Matt Sanz

Teacher Plus
Visual Development Artist

Matt Sanz is a visual development artist specializing in video games and animation. Based in the UK, his freelance work as a 2D artist and creative director has led him to develop unique visual concepts for a wide range of clients, including BOB, Friday Sundae, IGG, Amazon Games, and more.

Matt graduated with a degree in Game Design and accepted a position as Lead Concept Artist for a studio in China shortly after, opening up a wide range of international opportunities. You can find Matt’s work online and at Artstation.


  • U1


    • About Me
    • Influences
    • What Will We Do on This Course?
  • U2

    Preparation and Defining the Goal

    • Tools and Set up within Photoshop
    • Colour Keys, Importance and Understanding
    • Inspiration and Structuring Your References Boards
  • U3

    Rendering Our Design 1

    • The Thumbnail - Idea Exploration 1
    • The Thumbnail - Idea Exploration 2
    • The Thumbnail - Idea Exploration 3
    • The Thumbnail - Idea Exploration 4
    • Colour Key Development 1
    • Colour Key Development 2
    • Clean-up Sketch 1
    • Clean-up Sketch 2
  • U4

    Rendering Our Design 2

    • Block-Out the Flats, Define the Shapes
    • Establish the Shadow and Light 1
    • Establish the Shadow and Light 2
    • Render, Understanding the Materials 1
    • Render, Understanding the Materials 2
    • Render, Understanding the Materials 3
    • Render, Understanding the Materials 4
  • U5

    Clean up, Details and Post-production

    • Post-processing Elements, Clean up and Balancing
    • Promoting Your Work, Professional Layout
  • FP

    Final project

    • Digital Painting for 2D Illustration

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

    If you're a Plus member, get a custom certificate signed by your teacher for every course. Share it on your portfolio, social media, or wherever you like.

  • 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.

  • Watch professionally produced courses

    Domestika curates its teacher roster and produces every course in-house to ensure a high-quality online learning experience.


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.
Digital Painting for 2D Illustration. Illustration course by Matt Sanz Best seller

Digital Painting for 2D Illustration

A course by Matt Sanz
Visual Development Artist. London, United Kingdom.
Joined August 2020
  • 98% positive reviews (179)
  • 4739 students