You’ve watched Bob Ross on Twitch, or maybe experienced all 31 seasons of the Joy of Painting on Youtube. Perhaps you’re even old school and caught it live on PBS. While Bob may be a wonderful man and a joy to watch, the tools he used aren’t cheap. Technology has come a long way since his show aired, and there are a number of digital painting applications, such as Photoshop, Corel Painter, and Krita among many others like Procreate and Artrage. The problem is, while Bob taught us how to use a few simple tools to create masterpieces of our own, emulating those techniques digitally requires a slightly different approach.
Thankfully, the same advances in technology that brought about a plethora of painting apps has also enabled digital artists to become content creators and offer us a smorgasbord of tutorials and learning content to help us achieve our goals of adding some happy clouds and giving a tree a friend. What follows are some of the most helpful tutorials I’ve come across in my own journey to experience the Joy of Painting. After following a few tutorials, you might just find yourself ready to invest further and buy a tablet so that you can really make the most out of what you’ve learned. Luckily, even those have come down in price to pretty reasonable levels.
Age of Asparagus
Motivation can be tricky when you’re first starting out, and producing a painting that is lackluster and nowhere near what you were aiming for can be a real kick to the teeth. Age of Asparagus’s tutorial is a great counter to that. For one, he uses Krita, a free painting application that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux (and I can confirm it runs decently on my decade old dinosaur of a desktop). Second, over eighteen videos that comprises over three hours of content, he holds your hand through ever step you need to take to produce your own Bob Ross. The result is, by the end of his tutorial, you’ll have produced something to be proud of, even if you only have a mouse.
While light on painting theory/technique (things Bob covered anyways), he focuses on how to accomplish those using digital tools. As he calls it, an analog to digital conversion. One of the big differences you’ll encounter is that you’ll need to understand how digital brushes work, how to mix paint digitally, and also that you have some additional tools such as layers and the almighty ctrl+z, because some accidents aren’t quite so happy.
Begin his tutorial. One bit to note however, his tutorial uses the Krita 3 default resources. If you’ve installed the current version 4 of Krita, you’ll need to go to the manage resources section and enable the Krita 3 Bundle.
After you’ve spent some time in the Age of Asparagus, you might find yourself looking for even more brushes to help you emulate various parts of nature, especially trees. Trees can be a real struggle.
IForce is primarily known for his Environments 2.0 Brush pack for Krita. This hefty pack has multiple brushes for just about every part of a Bob Ross painting you could ever want to paint. Having the brushes is only half the battle and can also be quite overwhelming. Like I said, it’s a very hefty pack. Thankfully, IForce has a Youtube channel where he has a series of videos demonstrating how to use his brushes to create landscapes of your very own. If you’ve previously done Asparagus’s tutorial, then IForce’s more streamlined focus on his brushes should be easy to follow.
After awhile you may find yourself thinking, maybe Bob’s approach of a few tools instead of an overwhelming number of brushes might be the way to go. Maybe you also want to deepen your understanding of art and digital painting as well. Aaron Rutten’s Youtube is one of the best places to head. While he primarily works in Corel Painter, he covers just about everything from how to get started as a beginner to more advanced tutorials, and even reviews for digital art technology. He livestreams, and is very approachable should you have questions. There is so much content on his channel, it’s hard to describe it as a single category; however, he has taken the time to helpfully categorize his work into a variety of playlists, that he then goes a step further and organizes by broad topic.
Watching Steve is a bit like watching Bob if Bob was just casually talking to you while he worked. His videos aren’t as tutorial like as you might find on some of the other channels mentioned here. Instead they mostly feature Steve providing a voice over narration of what he is doing as he paints or does a study. What’s nice is that Steve likes to focus on only a few things, like a recent video where he tries the watercolor brushes in Krita. The result is that you come away with a good understanding of how he gets from a blank canvas to a finished piece. I highly recommend his studies or if you’re just wanting to put on a relaxing painting video after you’ve finished all 31 Joy of Painting seasons for the fifth time and can start predicting accurately whether or not they’ll be a cabin.
If you’re looking to see another style and one that tend to use a smaller number of simpler brushes, you might be interested in checking out Boro Drawing. He has some introductory content, but his paint over series is a particular highlight as he discusses how to correct issues you might have in your own work.
These channels come with another handy benefit, the channels tab where they recommend other content creators and artists to help inspire you on your art journey.
Happy Painting and God Bless My Friend
— Bob Ross