40 Incredible Digital Painting Portraits

As I’m browsing through portfolios on sites like devianART, some of the work that amazes me the most are the digital paintings and portraits of highly-skilled artists. In this post we’ll feature 40 outstanding examples.

Digital Portrait Showcase:

Captain Jack Sparrow

Digital Painting Portraits

Elena Formal Portrait

Digital Painting Portraits


Digital Painting Portraits

Ali G

Digital Painting Portraits

Jimi Hendrix

Digital Painting Portraits

Scarlett Johansson

Digital Painting Portraits

Lisa Edelstein

Digital Painting Portraits


Digital Painting Portraits

Water Self Portrait Study

Digital Painting Portraits

Carlzon Portrait

Digital Painting Portraits

Portrait Drawing

Digital Painting Portraits

Natalie Portman

Digital Painting Portraits

Gerard Butler

Digital Painting Portraits

Pink Girl with the Blues

Digital Painting Portraits


Digital Painting Portraits


Digital Painting Portraits

Pintura Digital

Digital Painting Portraits

Sirnyx Portrait

Digital Painting Portraits

Comission Portrait

Digital Painting Portraits

Portrait 4

Digital Painting Portraits

Scarlett Johansson

Digital Painting Portraits

Search for the Hiro

Digital Painting Portraits

Another Portrait

Digital Painting Portraits

Portrait of a Madman

Digital Painting Portraits

Liv Tyler

Digital Painting Portraits

Nancy Botwin

Digital Painting Portraits

Nancy Botwin 2

Digital Painting Portraits

Nami Tamaki

Digital Painting Portraits

Kurt Cobain

Digital Painting Portraits

Josh Holloway

Digital Painting Portraits

Mr. Laurie

Digital Painting Portraits

Ryan Adams

Digital Painting Portraits


Digital Painting Portraits

Christina Aguilera

Digital Painting Portraits

Keira Knightley

Digital Painting Portraits

Johnny Depp

Digital Painting Portraits

John Lennon

Digital Painting Portraits


Digital Painting Portraits

Angry Look 3D

Digital Painting Portraits

Digital Portrait

Digital Painting Portraits

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Steven Snell

Stephen Snell is the owner and editor of Vandelay Design. Connect with Stephen on google+

168 thoughts on “40 Incredible Digital Painting Portraits”

  1. Wow! and Wow! some of that work is just mind bending. How many hours work do you think would be involved to produce such great work?

  2. These are really amazing and astounding what they can do now with digital art. The two of Johnny Depp are really great especially the one of him in real life though the Capt. Jack is really good as well. I agree that they look so realistic that it seems to somewhat defeat the fact that they are drawn.

  3. these are gorgeous. I think it’s funny how originally painters always made an attempt to make a painting look like a photo and now in the digital age, graphic designers are making photos look like paintings.

  4. These are good, but I’d like to see the process before I praise the artists for their incredible skill. It’s easy to paste a photo into Photoshop and just paint on top of it. If you’re not bringing anything new to the image then it’s little more than advanced tracing.

  5. Wow, I can’t wait to get a Wacom Tablet. Some of these look so real that my guess is they put the actual photo on the bottom layer and just traced over it. Some of it even looks like they cut and paste real images to make the clothing and what not look realistic. Either way it’s pretty awesome.

  6. Just wanted to point out that a couple of these are not digital paintings but actually 3D renders (Captain Jack Sparrow for one).

    Not saying they didnt take skill, effort, talent, just that calling them paintings is incorrect. It is an entirely different process to create an image on a 2d plane than to build one in a 3d environment.

  7. Ezine – no, by art school standards these are also boring. DESIGN school, these might be useful as illustrations, but even then, from a commercial point of view they would be impractical. No client would pay for a reproduced photograph.
    Which brings me to my point. As obviously (technically) talented the artist(s) is/are, I fail to see the artistic merit in reproducing a photograph. If you want it to look like a photograph, take a photograph. And leave it as a photograph.
    Surely the early 20th century artists must have taught us that the camera is here to stay, and painters need to move in a different direction. These are not paintings because they do not have any interest in the concerns or history of painting as a continuum of art.
    Move on!

  8. Mattress,
    Most were done in Photoshop. If you click through, many of them provide the details.

    I agree that very few clients are going to pay a premium for a creation that looks very much like a photograph, but personally I still appreciate the quality of the work and I find them to be inspiring.

  9. It is interesting to me how digital painting has kind of brought back that kind of Roman verism where every detail is rendered so carefully. Perhaps it is the sign of the times, but the overly polished digital constructions always looks fake to me. How ironic right?

    No matter how hard they try to look gritty a digital painting always looks less than truthful to me. It takes immense skill no doubt, but I can’t help, but feel that I am being lied to.

  10. I cannot help but wonder at the bitterness and cynicism of many of the comments regarding these images. Whilst they are neither portraits, photographs or paintings in the strictest sense, they are objects, and have been created by an artist; so their individual quality (and collective merit as a contemporary style/genre) is surely what is important. You either like them or you dont, but the same could be said of a Rodin sculpture (realistic?)or any of the 20th century movements in realism. For over a hundred years we have been bombarded with realism, and as technology improves, our sense of realism is heightened (HD TV being a great case in point).Their technicality is something of a distraction, as is the familiarity of the faces, but more distracting still is the need that many of the viewers seem to find in comparing them with another method of representation. We live in a time of familiar faces, and faces made familiar by film, media and photographs, so surely, these pieces are an accurate representation of the ‘face focused’ world we live in. so, again, you either like them or you dont, and if you don’t just get over yourselves!

  11. I am shocked not only at the skill of these paintings, but the insults posted. There are so many condescending messages posted here, suggesting that they are so much more creative or better. Perhaps these pictures do not portray artistic creativity, but they display the work of a few very talented people. As a fellow digital painter, I know this process is tedious and time consuming, but it is loads of fun. So I applaud these designers incredible dedication and work, and continue to display my disbelief that there would be anyone who would post a message suggesting these are good by school standards, not even. Perhaps we could look past the idea of these images being created for ourselves, and maybe these artists did it because it is what they enjoy.

  12. There’s certainly skill and talent involved when someone makes such paintings or renders or illustrations. But the point often eludes me. Unless it’s animated 3D character or the pic is needed in respectively huge size. Otherways i’d say it’s kinda dull. Why waste talent and skill to such things. These talented artists should also think up an idea for their paintings to really stand out.

  13. I’ve done something like this with a photo of my boyfriend. It was really hard work for me seeing as though it was the first one I’ve ever done. Yes it looks like a photograph, but the fact that I was able to make a flat image and make it look like a regular photo again was mind blowing and a major confidence booster. I give lots of credit to people that do this on a regular basis.

  14. the digital paintings..here r very ex….elent and….extra ordinary works, really i love them, and very much inspired, thank u for posting them…….

  15. These portraits took much time and skill to make and they are impressive for this alone. Thank you for posting them. Which by the way, how did you embed them here? Is this a wordpress blog. On Deviantart I only see a way to Share/Blog It on digg, livejournal and myspace or am I missing something?

  16. Not my taste, but I’m sure they were satisfying to create. Remind of the double soft filter effect of yesteryear photography / soft porn to create an ethereal. smooth effect. Again, not my cup. No edge to it. Fake fake and these ppl already have that airbrushed inhuman taint.

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  18. If this stuff impresses you, you know nothing about Art. Literally, you are at a kindergarten level in the mind.

    None of these “portraits” tells you anything about the sitter or about the artist who made them. They are empty technical demonstrations by people without talent or insight.

    And, they are only copies from photographs–mainly “painted” right over them.

    Someone has a lot of learning and growing to do and very little time to do it.

  19. Hello,

    I love this art work. I am really impressed with the results. May I ask what software was used?

  20. Wow! I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but as a full-time portrait artist, both digitally and traditionally, these digital “paintings” are not all that difficult. Both traditional portraits and digital portraits typically start with a photograph. The difference is, a traditionally painted portrait is started from a blank canvas with the photo only used as a reference.

    A digitally “painted” portrait actually starts with the photo, and digitally manipulates the photo to look like a painting. The software I use is Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. The trick is to get the photograph to appear like a hand painted painting and not so much as a photograph. This is actually very hard to do, because most digital artists lean more toward the realism of a photograph rather than the creative interpretation of a traditionally painted portrait. This is why so many of these “paintings” look like a photograph.

    If you would like to watch a couple videos of a traditionally painted portrait, check out these links. I do not know this artist, but he is amazing!!!!!!!


  21. that “chris” photo – anyone in this world would not tell that is painted. it looks real

  22. very impressive. look closer, every single detail is perfectly draw by painter, maybe took lots of time to make it. thanks for great posting.

  23. Some are impressive. I’ve always liked to draw/paint, too…I can see imperfections…mostly in eyes. Also the picture prior to The Madman…labeled Portrait, I think, shows nostrils that are not appropriately sized. Are C. Aguilera’s shoulders really THAT narrow? And the dual portraits of Nancy Botwiz has a broader space (shown on the 2nd portrait) between nose and lips. Maybe the imperfections were intended. Just another opinion to disregard…mine, that is.

  24. These pics r simply amazing…
    A lot of hard work being put in by creative artists!!!
    Keep going!

  25. @ Dave: If u click on any of the above photo it will give u a link for youtube where u can watch the artist draw and paint these photos from scratch…

    considering that, its a pretty neat job!

  26. princess: . . . Yes, there are some very talented digital painters, but you are mistaken if you think ALL of the above “paintings” were done “from scratch”. I didn’t mean to lessen the impact of the digital art, it is just that most people don’t know that these were started with cloning the original photograph and then manipulating it to look like a painting.

    As I said, I do both digital and traditional portraits. I offer digital portraits for people who do not have the money for a traditionally painted portrait which cost thousands instead of the few hundred dollars digital portraits cost. I also know how to paint a portrait digitally, record it to show on UTube, and it looks like it was done from scratch, but it wasn’t, it is nothing more than photo manipulation. Sorry. I guess I’m just more honest than most.

  27. @ Dave, Hello Dave I would be very interested to view your U tube video of you creating a digital portrait, I have always assumed that you would need to know some extremely advanced Photoshop to create these sorts of work. How would I go about finding your video do you have a link you could post me?

  28. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa5JoiC0p68

    I have only a basic knowledge of Photoshop and Corel Painter. There are many others with much more training or understanding of these programs that do much more than I am able to do and much better too. But I believe anyone with a basic understanding of graphic applications can do this. (and the money to invest in the proper hardware and software.)

    I also believe the artists that create this type of work, completely enjoy the minutes or hours it takes to make these creations. Yes, digital painting is much easier than starting out with a blank canvas and using artist’s oil paints, but it is none the less enjoyable and creative. I get so lost in the process, time just flies by and when I think only a half an hour has passed, three or four hours have actually gone by! I love it.

  29. Hi again Dave, I watched your video, really inspired am i right in thinking that all you used where paint brushes and the blur tool? I never thought it would be so easy. All the effect of an oil painting with out the mess or the need to wait for paint to dry. Im going to have a go myself.

  30. Anna,
    Actually, I did not use the blur tool. The actual painting done on the video was using Corel Painter X with a 15″ Macbook Pro, and a Intuos3 Wacom Tablet. I typically only use Photoshop to adjust the colors and set the composition then do the actual painting in Painter.

    You can download a free trial of Painter at http://www.corel.com for either Macs or PCs and I’m sure you will have loads of fun messing around with all the brushes, and yes, no mess and no waiting for the paint to dry!

    If you’d like more details on how I use Painter, just holler at me at the email address on my web site. And, no, I do not charge for this info. lol I have so much fun doing digital art that I just like to share the joy. lol

  31. Oh, yes I know Corel I used that when I did my work experience a while back now. I think I will have a go with Photoshop (because I know where i am with that) over the weekend and see how I get on. I may be take you up on your email option tho thanks. Either way ill let you know how i get on.

  32. Some really nice pics there, not all to my taste, but i can still recognize a certain amount of skill when i see it.

  33. This is absolutely amazing!!! I got goosebumps looking at the Lennon. And Captain Jack Sparrow :D..

  34. To answer to those who question the “value/purpose/point” of digital realism: I think that photorealism (whether digital or traditional) is not so much an outlet for “artistry/creativity” (although I’ve seen spectacular artists like Linda Bergkvist achieve both simultaneously), as it is an attempt to recreate life. Does that make sense? It is, after all, what realism is about: to convey to the viewer a sense of something that is “more real than real life”. There’s something very satisfying in painting something that so accurately imitates life that people have to look twice to tell that it’s actually a painting and not a photo.

  35. Ohh Yeah baby!! haha

    I´m from são Paulo, Brazil. I´m soo impressed with that illustrations, I hope one day join this list of illustrators. At least I’m studying for it!

  36. The graphic skill is indeed amazing.
    I just wish most of those people would actually study art and _anatomy_ before attempting portraits. So easy to have broken and wrong face features.

  37. I don’t understand how many people with bad taste are in this world. these to me are terrible tacky and ugly portraits, anyone with some real artistic knowledge will agree with me. aghh!

  38. Hey all,
    I dont mean to burst any bubbles here but this kind of stuff was done during art classes at CMU and even then if this was done it would have been stopped by the instructors.
    These are photography copies….copying a photo…even copying it and cropping it is just “draftsmanship” it has very little to do with art especially fine art!
    Designing a human is not that difficult…if you are trained in anatomy and a few years of figure study.
    What is difficult is creating a composition. drawing something relistically is NOT art it is draftsmanship….Please…dont get them confused!

  39. Some of these, like the portraits of Jack Sparrow, Elena and Gerard Butler, I have seen before, but the rest are simply mind blowing…These are beauties and nothing less…the sepia effect given to the Scarlett Johansson is simply awesome…In my opinion the Water Self Portrait Study is by far the best in the list….Mood1, Angry Look, Portrait Drawing and Pintura Digital are my other favorites in the list…I just loved each one of these….Thanks for sharing this….

  40. In an age where so many disturbing things are going on…..people killing people…visual images of children suffering plastered all over the place…mass ignorance has for some reason become “the norm.” Why is it that we can not look at something beautiful or other wise, without someone mouthing off about how much it sucks or what little talent it takes to create it? Does taking a picture with a camera make you an “artist?” If this is the case, then over 4.6 billion people every year become “artists” in North America. It’s, “how” you take a picture that makes you an artist. It’s how you paint a picture that makes you an artist, it’s how you play a role that makes you an artist. Anyone can paint, take pictures and even act, it’s when others are taken back and impressed, that’s when you become an artist. In the comments posted here, for every two negative there are twenty positive. People are impressed, keep your chin up and soldier on!!!! To those that would rather undermind the artistic creativity of these works of art, I was always told, that if you dont have anything good to say about someone, then STFU!!!!

  41. Well of course they are “photoshopped” as the morons like to call it. it’s digital artwork. you get a little stylus and draw.

    As for the rest its very good work;) keep it up

  42. digital painting is a very attractive path for artists, but i refuse to stoop to the level where u just trace from an image. some of them cant even do it well. this is very very sad. great artists like michelangelo and monet would heave a sigh of pity at the state to which art has fallen.

  43. Dear Poop . . . Digital Painting has its place and there is some talent required but mostly knowing how to use Photoshop and/or Corel Painter.

    My problem is the artists that try to pass digital art off as “Original Oil Paintings” without admitting to the fact that they never opened up a tube of paint. If all artists would just be honest about how they create their art it would go a long way toward the acceptance of other art forms such as digital art.

  44. Well, these are good. bt I wish I could upload my digital painting here. they were exhibited in My university as well.
    bt thse are OK…

  45. And I agreee to Rtone as well..
    when I exhibited my digital paintings in UNI, everyone asked me, k how u made it. my answer was straight forward that I made them in CS4.. bt still everyone loved them..

  46. To all those people saying this is not real art… stfu

    this is real art, and takes talent and skill, unlike those cheap crappy splatters of paint on a canvas that people call ‘art’ that a child could paint.

  47. These are not really ‘art’ because there is not interpretation of the subject matter, there is nothing apart from a mechanical (sometimes awful) copy of a photographic image. That is not art, if anything it is closer to ‘illustration’, but I wouldn’t even insult illustrators by calling them that either. You fanboys and girls may whoop over how great these are but it shows a high degree of visual illiteracy to try to defend these as ‘art’. There is some skill required to copy a photograph its true but these could just as easily be traced over in Photoshop and that shows no craftsmanship or artistry and they are all quite soulless as far a I can see. Major yawn, there is much better digital painting going out there that is original and exciting.

  48. Absolutely agree with every line of LollyLoo_93’s post.

    Almost all of these simply bored me to tears!

    And Dave is forgetting that by no means all digital portraits are manipulated photographs! Many artists use a photo JUST as reference and draw and paint everything out by hand, the same as they would on a canvas, but using digital paint.

  49. I am a digital painter and professional photographer with dyspraxia. My condition makes it almost impossible to create paintings and drawings from scratch but by combining my knowledge of photography and my perseverance in photoshop, I am able to create works of art that I would struggle to make without digital tools and the ability to backtrack and re-do things I get wrong. The amount of time and effort that goes into creating these works of art is commendable and the skill of the artists should not be underestimated. anyone who doubts the skill involved should create a better image themselves first!

  50. I am a digital painter and professional photographer with dyspraxia. My condition makes it almost impossible to create paintings and drawings from scratch but by combining my knowledge of photography and my perseverance in photoshop, I am able to create works of art that I would struggle to make without digital tools a

  51. I do both digital and traditional art/illustration in all mediums. Better get used to accepting digital visual creations at art, just like the artists in the last century had to accept that photography was a new form of art. Webster’s defines art as ” the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects” That makes some of these portrayals “ART” it may not be traditional fine art, but it is art. Now to be honest a fair amount of the images above are pitiful examples of creative digital portrayals. Most of the traditional fine art I see in the local galleries are pitiful portrayals as well that have plenty of creativity and lack any skillful execution. To be a fantastic portrait artist requires an acute study of form, lighting, volume, color, shade, perspective, etc. Those same rules apply regardless of the medium being oils, pixels, film or whatever. I think what beefs folks is the fact that they are trying to separate intuitive, imaginative creation with skillful recreation or reproduction. It’s the old “Did you freehand that or trace it?” Many, many successful fine artists use grids, projectors, tracing paper, etc. No one complains. I would suggest that everyone take a tour of portraitartist.com. There you will find fantastic portraits that show intuitive and even imaginative styles, BUT you will also find many portraits that are painted in a super realist manner as if attempting to mimic a photograph. There is a following for both styles. One thing I’ve noticed – The very best digital artists (including the best smudge painters) can pick up a brush and paint and bust out a alla prima canvas. I suggest that you traditionalists try to do a digital portrait. You will be surprised to learn that it is damn tough to paint over a photo without screwing it all up. After all when you do a paint over you are covering up the very detail that you are trying to copy. It really doesn’t work very well at all, and as a digital artist matures they usually find out that it is far easier to just speed paint it from reference rather than smudge it. As for you digital artists. I suggest that you stop painting these celebrity fan images ala Deviant art and try to turn your hobby into a real artistic endeavor. The best artworks above are the ones that were dreamed up rather than copied from somebody else’s photo. Learn to take your own photographic reference, or start with a scanned pencil drawing. Seek to let your intuition guide you and impart some style into your digital paintings. Learn all that you can about composition, lighting and most of all gesture. Be patient on both sides of the fence here. It’s tough to be a digital artist. We have no concrete definition yet as how to tell folks what medium we use. I can tell you that the public seems to think that there is a “portrait” button on the keyboard. Funny how they don’t seem to think that photographers have a “portrait” button on their camera. I suppose it’s because everyone has tried to take artistic photo portraits at home and gave up trying. Finally – Why “artify” a photo? The same reason we retouch magazine covers, use illustrations instead of photographs in advertisements, and still love to watch animated films, especially the new uber real 3d ones. For me it’s because my clients had a life changing moment in their life and the snapshots that someone took just didn’t capture the moment. I take their disappointing photo and apply all of my artistic training and experience (traditional and digital) to create a portrayal that is more faithful to the way they remember that event. I have to admit that I am making a considerable amount more income today than I ever did doing my old stuck in the art school artsy fartsy painting mode and the number of clients in my locale that could afford to have me paint a $25,000 dollar Daniel Smith style executive portrait I could count on one hand.

    Sorry for the long post and remember there are hacks on both sides of the fence, but don’t criticize them for trying, rather encourage them to try more.

  52. These are absolutely amazing although I have to agree that some are so close to a photograph, that a photo would simply do the job. I prefer the images where brush strokes are visible. I once cam across a site called flutter-brush that will create your own digital drawings.

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