Getting Started with Digital Art
Figure out your “why”?
Before you get started on your journey with digital art, you must evaluate your reasons for getting into it. Perhaps you are a traditional artist and want to move over to a digital medium. Maybe you saw The Lion King when you were younger and wanted to create your art. You might even want to do it “just because”.
Whatever your reason might be, keep it in mind as you start because digital art can be an expensive, time-consuming and sometimes a frustrating passion. Your “why” will make it all worth it in the end and you’ll find that you won’t want to stop creating.
Get the right tools.
Digital art is what it suggests. Digital art is mostly digital. The tools you use to create art is entirely up to you. As a beginner, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of creativity.
That same excitement will have you spending way more than you need to on software and hardware. Being mindful of your equipment is the best way to save you plenty of frustration.
The essentials that every digital artist must own is a pen, a pad, software and a visual display. Most digital artists create their work on computers using photoshop, a drawing tablet as a pad and a pressure-sensitive pen. Your set up will depend on your budget and your preference.
On a Budget
If you are starting on a budget, the most cost-effective way to start digital art is with a graphics tablet and an adobe photoshop subscription. Drawing tablets, like the Wacom Intuos, is an excellent choice for newcomers. It comes with a pressure-sensitive pen and a comfortable drawing area.
The downside to using an entry-level graphics tablet is the amount of time it takes to get used to watching your computer’s screen while drawing on a graphics tablet. Additionally, a computer’s graphics usually varies from the desired graphics. Computer art mostly relies on computing power and the software used.
Photoshop is a sophisticated program because its functions go beyond digital art. I recommend it for beginners because of how much you can learn about digital art from photoshop. There are dozens of art programs out there, and it’s up to you as an artist to find the right fit for your computer-generated art.
Mid Range Expense
If money is not too much of a problem, then you can invest in a graphic tablet that has a display as you draw on it. Personally, the iPad 10.2 inch, coupled with the apple pencil is my setup of choice, and I think it is ideal for the mid-range expense artist.
After paying for the hardware, the software you will have available to you can cost anywhere between free and $100. I suggest starting with Sketchbook Autodesk, which is free art software available on the iPad. Sketchbook Autodesk offers a brilliant drawing environment with stunning visual effects and plenty of brushes to use. Create anything for sketches to oil paintings with great ease.
If you are looking for something a little more premium, then definitely get Procreate. This software is much like Sketchbook but offers more features such as time-lapse recordings of your creation process, animation tools and intuitive functions to make digital painting more fun.
If money is no object, then you can invest in a Cintiq, which is a state of the art graphics tablet. The Cintiq requires a computer to run, and it is optimised for a variety of software from paint tool sai to clip studio paint.
If you enjoy the freedom of being able to create art anywhere, then invest in the iPad Pro and the second-gen apple pencil. Most established graphic designers prefer this setup.
The most expensive options aren’t necessarily the best way to go. As an artist, you should be able to create brilliant work with just about anything. The tools you pick should fit into your lifestyle, your learning and your goals.
I strongly suggest starting with a setup that constrains you. You’ll find that those limitations will turn you into a very creative digital artist.
Find the right teachers.
Starting a new skill means getting the right education. It’s a good thing that this art form requires digital technology because the masters of digital art all teach online, pretty much for free. Pinterest and YouTube are your friends when it comes to an art education.
Take inspiration from more than one artist. Find an artist that is good at colour. Find another artist that is good with linework. As you gain experience, your artistic curiosity will change.
Create a schedule
For most people, art is a hobby. When they can find time in their busy lives, they can create. For you, this is a passion. Passion needs time for success.
Start small by creating things for one hour a day. Don’t rush yourself but rather take your time and enjoy the process.
Never miss an impulse.
Being a digital artist does not mean that you should stop working with real medium. Take a pencil and a notepad and pull it out whenever you feel the urge to create.
Find your creative space.
If you’re anything like me, then you might need a space where you escape. Having a place where you can go and make art takes a lot of stress out of the process. It is also useful for getting past an artist’s block.
Join a community.
Always ask for feedback and advice. Communities like Deviantart and Reddit host thousands of like-minded artists who love to teach and offer constructive criticism. All you need to do is ask.
Communities are also a great place to find challenges to help you level up. Once you are part of a community of artists, you will be able to find plenty of inspiration.
Finally, don’t forget that art is personal and often fun. Keep your creations interesting by experimenting with different styles and subjects. Don’t feel scared about colouring outside the lines. You can always erase your mistakes in digital art.