Speed painting, which is the art of creating a completed work of art in a set amount of time, can be done with traditional media or digital painting programs. Either way, you need to use some basic speed painting techniques and principles to paint faster. There are additional techniques and tools you can use when speed painting digitally to save yourself even more time. Whatever your medium is, there is no set-in-stone process for doing speed painting. You just need to apply the core techniques, find what works for you, and then practice painting faster and faster!
Method 1 of 2:Using Basic Speed Painting Techniques
1Use pictures as references to help inspire your designs while painting. Take your own photos to use, or build up a library of photos from elsewhere that you can use as references and inspiration. Take or look for photos of unique designs that you can replicate in a speed painting.
For example, look for patterns and textures in architecture that you can photograph to replicate in a painting.
Landmarks or cloud formations are other things you can photograph to use as inspiration for your speed paintings.
You don't necessarily need to refer to other images while speed painting, but it can be helpful to try if you're having trouble coming up with ideas, or if you're just beginning to learn the craft.
Tip: Look for inspiration everywhere, both in nature and the man-made world. Don't hesitate to take pictures so you can use them as references later on.
2Fill a canvas with color first, then add texture to save time. If you're not trying to paint a specific image, such as a scene from a reference photo, beginning with a single background color and then adding several experimental textures or lines can help get you started. Use a large brush to lay down big strokes of color to a canvas instead of trying to paint a specific thing. Then, add strokes of varying textures to experiment and see what emerges and inspires you to paint.
For example, you might start with a solid black background wash, and then add some texture over that background with dark blue paint. From that you could start to imagine a night sky scene and start adding more details to complete the work.
3Create textures with chunky brushes to paint natural environments quickly. Chunky brushes with hard bristles are great for quickly painting things like forests, rocks, vegetation, and other landscape textures. This will allow you to work quickly without having to paint each individual detail.
For example, if you are painting an African safari scene, you can use chunky, hard-bristled brushes to create a rocky outcropping in the background and long grass in the front.
If you are digital speed painting, you can download different kinds of chunky brushes or brushes that give a chalky look to the paint.
4Use a limited selection of brushes to speed up the painting process. Working with fewer brushes will force you to think more about shapes and design rather than brushstrokes. This will help you work faster and more efficiently.
Stick to larger brushes that will fill up more of the canvas in a shorter amount of time.
5Use a limited color palette to reduce time spent choosing colors. Pick a palette of around 3 colors to use to create all the shades in your painting. This will save you time choosing and mixing colors and force you to look at the painting's subject more simply and work faster.
For example, use white, grey, and black to create your whole painting quickly and simply. From these colors, you can mix various shades of grey to add depth and dimension to your subject.
6Focus on painting 1-3 key visual aspects to keep your paintings simple. Don't try to share too many things in a single painting. Choose 1-3 things you want to convey, whether you're painting from your imagination or from a reference, and focus on those to work faster.
For example, focus on just a single face instead of a group of many different people. Paint 1 interesting building instead of a whole street scene. If you're painting from a reference photograph, choose the most prominent elements of that photograph and use them as the inspiration for your art.
When you want to convey too many things in a single painting, then you will have to divide up the canvas into smaller portions, and it will slow you down.
7Practice painting using a timer to get faster. Choose an amount of time and limit yourself to painting within that time. Reduce the amount of time gradually as you begin to work faster to get better at speed painting.
For example, you can start with 30 minutes and see how much you can paint in that half hour. When you can complete a painting in 30 minutes, then you can reduce the time to 20 minutes.
Method 2 of 2:Applying Other Techniques to Digital Speed Painting
1Create custom shapes you can quickly place in your digital speed paintings. Draw abstract shapes and experiment with overlapping, duplicating, reflecting, and transforming them. Layer and merge these shapes in your speed paintings to create new visual ideas.
These shapes can be completely abstract forms, or symmetrical patterns. Try creating them on days when you aren't inspired to paint, and then use them to speed up your digital speed painting on days when you are.
For example, create a variety of square and rectangular shapes that you could overlap and transform to create cityscapes and different architectural forms.
2Use the gradient tool to quickly plan the colors for your digital paintings. Select a color for every base aspect of your painting with the gradient tool. Use the eraser tool to blend the colors together if you want an even palette.
The gradient tool is a digital color palette in which you can select a color at each end of a spectrum and the tool will fill in all the shades in between those colors. In other words, it is a digital palette mixed from different colors that lets you easily select different shades.
For example, select a color for the ground of your painting, another for the middle, and another for the sky. Then blend these together to quickly create the background shades of your painting.
3Paint over photos to recreate environments at high speeds. Import a photo and then use it as a guideline for your speed painting. Paint over the details of the photo with your chosen brushes and color palette to create something new and unique.
For example, if you want to create a cityscape in the background of your painting, then import a photo of a skyline and paint over it quickly so you don't have to create the shapes from scratch.
4Use layers to quickly erase mistakes and test ideas while painting. This is one of digital speed painting's biggest advantages over traditional media. If you use layers, you can quickly backtrack by deleting a whole layer if it isn't working. You can also speed up your painting process by duplicating a layer to modify and use elsewhere in the painting.
Layers are like different sheets of the image stacked on top of each other that you can shift to the front or back, copy, or delete as needed. You can also make layers more transparent or opaque so that the layers below show through or are hidden.
For instance, if you are painting a face, start with a sketch for the first layer, then add the background color for a second layer, then draw shadows and blurring on the third layer, highlights and blurring on the fourth layer, and so on until each part of the painting of the face is a separate layer that you can edit as needed.
Tip: This is where some of those custom shapes you created can come in handy to quickly create layers in your paintings to which you can add more detail as desired.