These are few but essential tips that will help you at improving in your digital craft, be it Painting, Airbrushing, Digital Design or Photomanipulation:
IS YOUR ART COMPLETED?
When you think you are done and ready to submit, you are actually not quite so. This means it's advisable to take few hours of rest before submitting in dA or call it completed, the next time you view your art with fresher sets of eyes you'll certainly see the work in a new light, from there you can spot areas for improvements; be it color correction, contrast value, touch ups and more painting.
Why is this happening?
When you view your artwork through extended period of time your eyes gets 'immune' at spotting errors; even the quickest of break from staring at the monitor allows the eyes to reset. The human eyes are great at adapting, it's natural that it accepts errors hence bypass them when exposed to it long enough. The longer you are away from the work the better.
HORIZONTAL FLIP CANVAS
Frequently view your WIP in 'mirror view' with Horizontal Flip. This technique will reveal errors and mistakes that you can never spot in default view.
This technique has been used since the Renaissance period where painters view their artworks in the mirror while progressing at painting.
To do this in Photoshop: Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal
It's advice that you create a 'one button' shortcut key for ease of use, I suggest using a key from F1 to F4 as it's the closest to the left hand since you'll be using this a lot
I've implemented this technique to the point I paint my artwork in both views equally. This constantly allow me to fix errors and see things in fresher view.
Out of all the digital arts 'secrets', this is one of the biggest game changer being that all spectrum of skill levels from Beginners to Pros will surely benefit from it. It's one of those things that doesn't sound prominent but greatly affect the outcome of your artwork when embraced.
Additionally, you have the advantage to work in reverse canvas when you flip it horizontally; this is useful when working with diagonal strokes that are usually difficult to draw (right handed) from bottom right to top left. When flipped it's feels natural to draw when it's from top right to bottom left.
THUMBNAIL VIEW MAGIC
View your art in Thumbnail view every now and then while progressing during the work. This view will help you at summing up the general composition of the artwork as you progress; and most importantly, this is how your art is seen most of the time in dA or anywhere in the internet, so if you have an eye catching thumbnail, you'll invite more viewers to click on it.
In Photoshop, it reaps soo much benefit to have the Navigator Window enabled; this way you can work while assessing the composition, light and value without details distracting the judgment.
LIGHT! LIGHT! LIGHT!
LET THERE BE LIGHT! When utilized properly, you can create focal points and direct the viewer's eyes towards that area. Light can also 'connect' your background and foreground and makes the mid-ground (usually the subject matter) blend in naturally and organically.
COMPLEMENT YOUR COLORS
COMPLEMENTARY COLORS. Visit this helpful site for your color scheme guidance:
This will help you in making your colour choice in your art more harmonious.
USE THE COLOR BALANCE TOOL
If you want to alter the colors of your painting then Color Balance is a fast and easy way to slightly or completely change the tones of your image. You can warm it up by upping the reds, or make it cooler with blues. Make a duplicate of your entire image and alter the Colour Balance as you see fit..
ALWAYS SAVE NEW FILES & BACK UP LAYERS
Always save, that's the golden rule. It's so frustrating to lose something you're really happy with, and even more so to have someone tell you, "you should have saved!" The thing to do is to save as a new file intermittently. Try to develop a numbering system that makes sense and is easy to remember.
It can be useful to keep the layers in case of emergency. If you really need to flatten the whole painting or merge most of the layers, then make a backup copy of the .psd file with the layers intact. It might save you a lot of time down the road later on especially when you have to make major changes