Ever wondered how you can easily spike up your artwork or cover with some nice magical crystal gem? Well, let me pass on some secret knowledge from class and show you how easy it can be.

Note: This method is also suitable for digital painting noobs like me. :)


First of all this little overview is due to one of our teachers [A. Nowak], who showed us his version on how to easily paint a crystal in Photoshop. The nice, big picture is the result out of that exercise and… by me!

A blue crystal gem floating in front of a dark blue background

I know, amazing! As we all know I’m not to much of a painting genius.

Since I’m also no genius in general, I forgot to save every step individually during the exercise, so I tried to re-construct the steps in order to show you some step-by-step pictures. XD So  I’m not to as detailed with my pictures as usual. I hope that doesn’t matter…

How to create a Crystal gem

Base Crystal


Pick your 4 colors. 1 base, 1 lighter, 1 darker and 1 random (to spicen up the picture.)

Note: The white spot indicates the fictional light source. Will be useful later on.

Kristall_STEP_00 - viennajetschko


Create the form of your crystal with the lasso tool. Fill it with your base color.

Kristall_STEP_01 - viennajetschko

Step 3

Unselect. On a new layer you start shading the crystal with your darker color and on another with your lighter color. You can shade rather roughly as it’s just an orientation for later on.

Tip: Draw a "lighting source" into your picture - preferably on the colors' layer - so you know where your light is coming from.

Kristall_STEP_02 - viennajetschko

Step 4

Next you take the lasso tool again and trace the various sides of the gem on a new layer. Give each side/form a gradient from base to light color.

Kristall_STEP_03 - viennajetschko

Step 5

Reduce the transparency of the previous layer until it and the shading layer look good/natural.

Kristall_STEP_04 - viennajetschko

Step 6

Now reduce everything on a single layer. Note: Copy your previous layers and reduce the copies to one layer, so you can go back to your originals at any given time.

Step 7

On your new layer, create better transitions between the sides by using the smudge tool – or the mixer brush if you like – but keep in mind to leave visible edges.

Kristall_STEP_05 - viennajetschko

Tarnishing and Scratches

Step 8

Now you could go with that. OR: Add some “tarnishing” by using a pattern brush and pick the special color.

Size the brush up and slightly tap on the crystal – your brush should be sensitive to your graphic tablet pencil’s pressure. You can change that in the brush field in Photoshop. Once you see something (some pattern) smudge over it.

Step 9

Once you think the surface looks good – remember less is more – you can start adding scratches and “outline” the edges – use white or the light color you picked for your stone and use a “normal” brush at a very low size (one digit number).

Kristall_SCRATCHES - viennajetschko
Well, outlining the stone is pretty easy and up to you – how much and where you wanna use it.

Pretty much the same goes for scratches just that adding shadow to those makes sense. You can do that by picking your dark or special color and draw dark lines next to your light lines – always remember where the light is coming from.

Note: When your light is coming from your left side, then your shadow gotta be at the left side of your light strikes (scratches).


Background – is also done with the gradient tool, then some pattern brush stamping and the humble use of the smudge tool.

Ring (underneath) – is created by a big soft brush, setting a spot and then cutting a hole into the spot with a soft rubber brush. The point in the middle is also made by a soft brush.

For further information and inspiration:

How to Draw For Games #2 | Сrystal and

How to Draw For Games | Isometric Crystal Tower by Sephiroth Art

These are the tutorials, which inspired our teacher [find his Artwork and Blog here] for this exercise.