Painting Blood

  • Software:Photoshop CS6  ·
  • Difficulty:Beginner

Rules of the Exercise

  • 1
    Download and open the practice worksheet for this exercise.
  • 2
    Observe and analyze the subject matter. Follow the guides of the instructor notes.
  • 3
    Submit your work for this exercise under the "Submissions" tab for grading!


  Blood. The rich, scarlet liquid that acts as our gasoline, our life-force. Let's take on a material challenge on understanding how blood looks and should be treated when re-creating it. Blood is a material that has no texture but rather a smooth surface and is defined by how thin or thick it is. For example, in the exercise practice sheet, the blood flow will be darker near the drips while it will be much thinner and transparent near the top. Be sure to reference and take your own (not will real blood please but rather synthetic) and observe the color and on the isolated highlights! Below is the practice worksheet that you can grab from the “Downloads” tab (find it under the header image near the top of this exercise). Exercise_48_PracticeSheetDownload



  • Be mindful how thin or thick each example of blood is. This will vastly change the color and appearance of the results.
  • Color pick from reference and when in doubt, go darker. A light red will come across as silly and unrealistic.
  • Blood is a liquid, so be sure to treat it as such =]

This exercise is a solid material study and will hopefully challenge you on observing how if a material is thicker or thinner will give a completely different look to the end result. So let's cut out being lazy and let the creativity flow out in the pints!


  You know that saying, “blood is thicker than water“, well that applies to drawing it as well! Blood can be a simple material to execute as long as your mindful of the colors you are using, the thickness of the blood, and where you place the highlights. Below is a simple step by step guide on creating blood with 5 colors and on a thick and thin example. I prefer working dark to light and especially for blood which has more of a hue identity closer to a darker red.  When placing your highlights be sure to be subtle yet effective. An overblown highlight can make it appear metallic or too many highlights can make the surface look irregular and come across as jelly. BloodTip For the exercise let's break down each step and see how to apply blood in different circumstances.

  1. Refined Outline – Start with a clean outline and visualize how the blood will interact with the subject matter, whether it's dripping or pooling.
  2. Dark Base Color – To recreate a more natural looking blood color that's closer to an actual representation, try working with a darker, richer red to act as your foundation color.
  3. Add Neutral Red – On top of that base color, lay down this lighter red where the blood thins out and ignore the thicker areas.
  4. Light Red – You can add further emphasis where the blood is thinning out by placing this much lighter red.
  5. Remove Outlines/Refine – Once you remove the outline, clean up the edge and refine the details further. You want to make sure it "reads" without the lineart.
  6. Highlights - This step is what will really make your material "shine". Blood can go from looking flat to having dimension with just a subtle addition of highlights. So be mindful of where you want the light source to be coming from and stay consistent. Remember that for blood highlights, you can create a great effect with adding very little!

Exercise48_StepbyStep_Blood This is a great material exercise as it can be rather simple! Just remember when working with blood, keep three things in mind:

  1. Work with a darker red base, a lighter red can look silly and give off the wrong material impression.
  2. Is the blood thinner or thicker? Thinner blood will appear lighter and thicker blood will appear darker.
  3. Your highlights should be minimal as they will act more effectively when they are isolated and subtle.

When you finish the exercise, remember to submit the result to the “Submissions” tab near the top of this exercise. You can see other submissions alongside your own!