How to get started with digital art

Are you looking to rekindle a childhood interest in drawing? Or perhaps it’s a new hobby for 2019 that you’re after. If you’re looking to scratch that creative itch, digital art may be the perfect starting point.

Before we dive in, let’s get something straight: digital art isn’t easier than traditional art.

Last fortnight’s post explained how digital art isn’t some entirely new realm where computers automatically turned people intodigital Da Vincis. So, if you’re hoping a new graphics tablet will reveal the secrets of creating 21st Century masterpieces, prepare to be disappointed.

 The skills

The skillset required for digital art creation is rooted in traditional drawing and painting. Creativity and talent are hard to teach, but the technical side of digital art can definitely be learnt. As long as you set your expectations within the realm of reality (digital super-artists aren’t born overnight!), continual practice can lead to perfection.

Want to learn the basics? There’s no need to enrol in a Diploma; the internet (YouTube especially) is a goldmine for tutorials and free how-to guides. Use these to your advantage – the quicker you learn the tech, the sooner you can dive into practising and honing your drawing skills.

Software

First off is software. To get started in digital art, you will require some sort of specific application where you can draw – Microsoft paint will only get you so far. This could be a free trial of Adobe Photoshop or a freeware program such as KritaAlthough it’s great to trial a couple of different programs to see which you prefer, continuously jumping from one to the next without taking the time to master the basics can really halt your progression. Remember, practice is your best friend.

Lamai Anne utilises both Photoshop and Procreate; the former for general layout, adjusting colour and composition. However, she acknowledges that it can be an expensive program to buy and a difficult one to learn. She loves Procreate for its combination of cost, ease of use and authentic “pen on paper” feel when drawing.

And just because your favourite digital artist may use a particular program, doesn’t mean you have to as well. It all comes down to personal preference.

What about custom brushes and tools?

You don’t need custom brush presets or the latest state-of-the-art equipment to get started in digital art. Just like you don’t need to spend a fortune on the most expensive paint tubes or silk brushes – start off with the included presets and go from there (the pencil tools and studio pen in Procreate are Lamai’s go-to).

Hardware

Tablet – or mouse?

I’m not going to lie, starting off with a mouse can be very frustrating. Some people can learn to draw with a mouse in an instant, while others – myself included would rather scrape paint off a wall with a toothpick.

A graphics tablet can be an investment; choosing an older model or purchasing one second hand can help reduce the financial sting. Having said that, many graphics tablet companies offer an entry-level model that won’t cost much more than a few blank canvases. If you have one of those iPads compatible with a stylus, then you’re ready to start dabbling (Lamai uses an iPad Pro herself).

And that’s pretty much it - happy drawing!

Milena Tsitovitch
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