How to create digital plein air paintings using Procreate and iPad

A plein air scene
Get outdoors to create great art (Image credit: Mike Mc Cain)

In this Procreate tutorial I make use of the digital painting app's best feature, it's mobility, to take my art out into the fields. There are so many great ways to learn and practise art these days; when it comes to studying light, colour and value, I’ve found no substitute for painting en plein air – which just means ‘the act of painting outdoors.’ Each time I go out to paint, I learn something new, and you can do it digitally. 

Plein air painting might not sound much different than doing a photo study. Yet even the best cameras don’t capture much of the colour and value that our eyes can perceive. It’s also a great excuse to ditch the desk and get outdoors: spending time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety.

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Mike McCain

Mike is an art director and illustrator based in Los Angeles. He has worked for a number of studios including Sony, Netflix, DreamWorks, Axis Animation, and Disney TV, and worked in visual development for the film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Previously he worked as a games director at Harebrained Schemes, where he directed the games Shadowrun: Dragonfall and BattleTech.

With contributions from