Color blending tutorial in photoshop 13

color blending in photoshop


When I used to see digital paintings, my mind would just be blown to bits thinking about how the hell do people give such a smooth color gradation? Because, at that point of time I wasn’t even aware that there’s such a thing called drawing tablets that help you draw and paint stuff directly on the computer. Until I figured out the method of doing it, I used to think only people who are very versatile at using the gradient tool and layers must be able to do this. I was wrong.


Blending or mixing of two different colors is very important in paintings as it helps produce a new shade and a smooth transition from one color to another. This is what separates the paintings from flat colored images.

I will need to spend a lot of time in writing and showing the various steps of how paintings are created from scratch. However, color blending is what forms the major part of my painting processes. If you are good at making like sketches, and you already own a drawing tablet, I’m sure you can start doing paintings just by seeing this tutorial.

Once you master this technique, you should be able to do paintings like how I do.

death irfan hussain thereddotman final darksiders wordpress
Death, the main character of Darksiders2.
warrior princess wacom tab painting irfan hussain thereddotman digital art wordpress
Warrior Princess (OC)
death chaos form irfan hussain thereddotman wordpress
Death’s Chaos form


To achieve color blending you should have the the following with you.

1) Adobe photoshop (or any other software like gimp or paint tool sai where you can use layers and control brush opacity)
2) A drawing tablet. Because using a tablet is where you will be able to easily control the intensity of your brush much like how you would do with a real brush, pen or pencil. You can try this tutorial even with your mouse but the process is going to be tedious and the out out will not have the finish which you will get by using a drawing tablet.

Ready? Let’s go.



Lets start by preparing the canvas.

Mac users, I’ve never used one and I’m not sure how the keys are named in a mac key board. But I’m pretty sure ctrl key in windows is cmd key and alt is opt key in mac.

Hit ctrl+n, and in the resulting window set the dimensions for your canvas. For practice, let’s start with a simple 1000X1000 pixels image. Also, make sure you have selected the background contents to be white.

Color blending tutorial in photoshop

Hit Enter and your you will see that a white sheet is loaded.

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But don’t just start painting yet. Before you proceed you must understand how layers work in photoshop. A little bit.

When you start painting straight away, you are painting directly on the while color of the canvas. That means, at any point of time if you feel like erasing something, you will not only erase what you painted, but you will also erase the white color of the canvas.

Therefore, to erase only what you painted and to preserve the canvas, add a new layer on top. To do this, hit ctrl+shift+n on your key board, and hit enter in the following window. Oh yes, make sure the color is set to “none”.

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You will see that in the layers panel, a new layer has been placed on your base canvas (background) layer.

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Like I’ve shown in the above screen shot, make sure that this new layer is selected.


Now on this layer, use the hard brush at 100% opacity to place two color spots of two different colors next to each other with a little bit of gap in between them. I’m going to select red and blue.

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Use that one which is highlighted
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And place two spots of colors


No it’s time to start blending the colors. Select this brush which you will find in the default brush presets (the highlighted one).

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And set brush opacity to 30%

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I normally set the brush to 30-50% when I work on my paintings but I recommend playing around with this setting to see what works best.

Now press and hold the alt key, you will see that this turns the brush tool into the color picker tool. Use this tool to select the red color and slowly paint a path towards the blue spot.

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You will that when you painted the red color on the blue spot, it produced a new shade. Now I’m again going to use the alt key, to select the new shade and continue painting.

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Do you see how this works? Notice how the colors are starting to blend in the center. I will continue to quickly switch between picker and the brush tool and keep on coloring.

Color blending tutorial in photoshop 11

Color blending tutorial in photoshop 12

Color blending tutorial in photoshop 13

Spend some good time time picking the colors from various spots and continue smoothing as you leave a path of a new color shade between the two primary colors.

Alt key is the golden short cut key when you are blending colors. It will drastically speed up the coloring process by eliminating the need of constantly switching between the brush and the color picker tool from the tools menu on left.

Practice will make you perfect. Aim at getting a smooth texture, like a gradient between the two colors. It will take some time but you will soon get the hang of it.

7 thoughts on “color blending in photoshop

  1. This one took me a while to figure out. Have to say I was a bit stuck on this. Anyway, I understand it bit different and better now.
    I still use a mouse at the moment.

    Step 1: Create/Find the middle color between the two colors.
    Step 2: Blend the middle color with the other colors on the two sites with a brush of, say 20%.

    That’s it!

    If the result isn’t good enough..

    Then refine the proces, it basically same as above, but you create ‘middle colors’ now for the three colors.

    It’s also possible to get the middle colors by picking up the color from the gradient tool.

  2. hi, im new at digital painting, i don’t have graphic tablet, but i did some works using mouse
    and i did it with black/white painting first
    does painting with black/white is same with color-blending painting?
    sorry bad english

  3. Hm, I see my sentences could be more clear.

    1) You draw with the brush with the red color between the cirkles and also on the blue (pink) cirkle to form a new shade.
    2) The shade on the blue cirkle is the one you use to paint BETWEEN the cirkles and you paint on the red cirkle to form a new shade..
    3) Ik think you paint now with this new shade again over the cirkle backwards in direction to the area BETWEEN the cirkles, and also on the pink one again to form a new shade. And so on.

    I think I am getting it!

    1. Yeah that’s pretty much it. It sounds tedious when you actually put these steps down but once you practice it gets very easy, like just getting up and walking. It’s best if you use a drawing tablet to do this. Alt+click is the short cut. I keep my thumb on the alt key and do this in quick ninja movements, pick and paint and pick and paint….

  4. Thanx for writing it up so clearly.

    To recap cause I am still not getting it clearly in my head at the moment:

    1) You draw between the cirkles and also on the blue (or pink).
    2) The shade on the blue cirkel is the one you use to paint again over the centre of cirkles
    3) I think you paint now when you are finished with the center over the red cirkle. To form a new shade.
    4) Now you pick up the new shade that is created on the red cirkle and paint over the centre and on the blue cirkle… creating a new shade on the blue one.

    Do I have this right?

    Considering your drawings, I think you could give us a better blending result though! But thanks for the clarity to write those steps down so explicity (I think I got it now!)

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