Mixed Media Technique: How to Combine Ink Art and Digital Painting

Articles & Drawing Tutorials, Mixed Media

I like mixing artistic techniques – various combinations and experiments allow to achieve amazing results! 🙂 Like this image below, which is actually the result of the process I’m going to show you very soon:23You may already have seen other posts and videos where I demonstrate how it is possible to mix ink graphics in a scanned form and digital painting. For example:

Fantasy Fish Series

Her Majesty Toad – Colored Version

Now I start a new tradition of publishing written mixed media tutorials. And today we’ll be coloring the rainbow trout! 🙂

This trout firstly existed as an ink drawing.black-and-white-troutI scanned and edited it in Adobe Photoshop so it became an “only black” art with transparency instead of white color.

Then I added the second layer with an opaque graphic form that repeats the contours of the fish (I already revealed the principles of easy creating such forms here, the article number 3)

  1. This is our initial point: a layer with black ink art above, then a layer with a base for coloring (the light red shape), and a white background layer – just to see better what we are doing. This is how my workspace looks like:

12. It is absolutely suitable to use any brushes you like. I use this Rey Frenden set (Brush and Nib presets).brushes3. I reduce the opacity of the upper layer with ink graphics to 90% at the Layers panel.

3It is also highly recommended to block the transparent pixels of the base color layer.


4. With a light beige #eeddc7 I color the belly and fins of the fish with a pastel tint. The opacity of the brush stroke is reduced to 18%.

Note: Let’s agree that I’ll be writing the percentage of the brush tool opacity in the brackets after the # of the color. 45. With the #fbf5ee (18%), which is even lighter than the previous color, I apply delicate highlights to the central and bottom parts of the fish, slightly touching the head and the tail fin. 56. I use a brownish #e0b677 (9%) to add the color accent to the upper part of the fish, so it becomes more bright.67. I cover the spine of the trout with the yellowish #e3c654 (9%).78. I use a vibrant brown #b86e24 (9%) to accentuate the upper part of the fish, all fins and refine the details of the head. Plus I leave a thin line of this color along the fish’s belly.89. I use a dark brown #51371d (9%) to accentuate the back of the fish.910. I work on the fish’s eye with the bright orange-brown #e38900 (9%) 1011. Another layer of color for the eye, this time with the bright yellow #ffef4b (9%)1112. And now I darken the eye a bit with the dark greyish brown #59473b (10%).1213. The finishing touch to the eye area: with the white #ffffff (21%) I create the highlight.1314. I come back to the fish’s body. With pastel greyish orange color #ddd3cc (21%) I add light hatches to the bottom part of the fish and refine the fins. It’s all about the details! 1415. With greyish yellow #ada78d (21%) I add new color nuances to the fish’s body, especially at the bottom part and head. 1516. With the green #b1e67c (21%) I add a visual “interest” to the color palette of my art, applying it to the head and the spine of the fish. These greenish strokes are not clearly perceivable but when blending with brownish tints, they strengthen the general impression. 1617. I add an aquamarine color #7ce6c7 (21%), mostly to the spine and the tail fin. The contrasting cold strokes become more visible and contrast – against a background of general beige-brown tints of the fish. 1718. I use light red (coral) tint #ff9191 (10%) to mark the stripe at the center of the fish’s body and add small color nuances to the head, the tail fin, and for a small drop – to other fins.1819. I choose a brighter pinky tint, the #ff4f60 (10%) for making the stripe more vibrant and adding a new color nuance to the gill cover. 1920. With the saturated red #e40015 (10%) I refine the details: accent the stripe and leave small spots of this color on the body, mostly in the bottom part. Be careful with the dark and bright colors, use a brush of a small diameter 🙂2021. I use a very dark brown #372a20 (10%) for accentuating the details of the head and scales and at the upper part of the fish’s body. I paint with small dots and rounded strokes.2122. I use the white #ffffff (10%) as an accent and apply it with short strokes to the highlighted areas: the fins, especially the tail fin, and differentiate the side (pectoral)  fin from the body. 2223. The final step: I paint a highlight on the spine of the fish with white color (10%), using a separate layer above the existing colored layer. 23Interested how the digitally painted layer looks like without the upper ink one? Here it is.24

In this tutorial, I worked on the one single layer – except the last step. If you feel that it doesn’t fit you, you absolutely can use more layers.

And a slideshow of the process images, just for your reference:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I hope you found this step-by-step prosess interesting and useful! Thank you for taking the time for watching and reading.

As always, feedback and questions are appreciated! Please, share this post with those friends who could be also interested in this technique. 🙂

P.S. Loved this fish? You can check out my Redbubble and DesignByHumans stores – there are many amazing goods with this rainbow trout design! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Mixed Media Technique: How to Combine Ink Art and Digital Painting

  1. I appreciate you showing us how digital editing software can help create a beautiful piece of art, like this trout your showed us. I think it’s amazing what we’ve been able to do with artistic software. I think it’s important to consider how we can apply our artistic skills to these kinds of things as well.


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