Digital art is becoming increasingly popular as technology advances, and in 2021 there were over 22,500 digital artist jobs available in the US.
Whether you want to create digital art for fun or as a career, you’ll need to know what steps to take first. Learning to create digital art may seem complicated at first, but it will be smooth sailing once you get the basics down.
Keep reading this digital art guide to learn everything you need to know!
What Is Digital Art?
Digital art is creating art or presenting it using digital technology. You create digital art using a computer or tablet stylus pen.
You’ll also use a variety of software programs like Illustrator or Photoshop. Digital art also includes many graphic elements and editing effects that make your drawing unique.
You can also create animated digital art using 3D images and photo manipulation. There is no limit to the type of digital art you can think up and create!
How to Create Digital Art
Your first step to creating digital art is getting the tools you need in place. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the available tablets, computers, software, and apps.
Once you do that, you can start learning the basics of creating your art. It may take some trial and error at first, but finding the best devices and software to meet your needs won’t take long.
These steps include:
Invest in a Tablet or Computer
You’ll first want to ensure that the device you choose meets the basic requirements to work with most art programs. Your computer will need at least 4GB of memory to handle the essential functions, but 8GB is best as it gives you better speed.
Drawing tablets tend to your drawing needs the most and are easy to learn. You can also get all-in-one tablets like Apple iPad Pro. This way you won’t need an extra computer for your other work.
Some of the best laptops and tablets for digital art include:
- Surface Pro 8
- Acer Spin 5
- Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook
- Wacom Cintiq 22
- 2022 Apple iPad Air
- XENX X1-640
You’ll also need to look at different digital art stylus pens. The popular options include Apple Pencil (2nd generation), Adonit Note+Digital Pencil, and Zagg Pro Stylus.
You can also check out the Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil.
Decide on Illustration Software
Your next step is choosing an illustration software program or app to use. An excellent way to start is to check out free drawing software programs to get a feel of what you would like. Some of the best free drawing programs include:
- Clip Studio Paint
- Adobe Photoshop
- Astropad Studio
Next, you’ll need to look at digital software options to invest in. To do this, you’ll need to decide what you want to draw the most. Comics, portraits, digital paintings, or landscape drawings are some of the most common.
You’ll also need to look at security features like third-party cookies and privacy features if you plan to use an app.
You can first look at which software and apps offer free trials, then check out how much it is to upgrade. Some of the most popular drawing software tools you can invest in include:
Clip Studio Paint
Clip Studio Paint is a fantastic program for concept and manga art and is also affordable. It’s easy to use and has a good reputation among comic artists.
It allows you to create unique effects and brush strokes and is also a good choice for digital painters, illustrators, and animation artists.
You can also record a timelapse of your work which is an intelligent tool to promote your work online.
Adobe Photoshop is one of the most well-known graphic software programs and is commonly used by artists and photographers.
Photoshop’s popularity is due to its industry-standard features and the ability to customize the program. It’s a great option if you plan to apply for digital art jobs, as most companies require you to be familiar with Photoshop.
Photoshop is best for photo editing, drawing, and digital painting. You can also use it on many different devices like your smartphone or tablet and still access all of your color, image, and paintbrush settings. It also has a vast library of Photoshop plugins that offer extra functionality.
Other Top Software Programs
You can also check out CorelPainter, Paint Tool SAI, Medibang Paint Pro, and Autodesk Sketchbook.
Make sure to look at what types of art these programs are best for and which features you can customize.
Popular Drawing Apps
Drawing apps are also an excellent tool for creating stunning works of art. These apps have a lot of powerful drawing tools that allow you to create special effects and even 3D models.
Some apps only offer paid versions, while others provide a lot of capabilities for free, so you’ll need to budget accordingly. Popular apps you can look into include:
- Adobe Photoshop Sketch
- Astropad Studio
- Adobe Illustrator Draw
- Affinity Designer
- Autodesk Sketchbook
Start Your First Drawing
Now that you have your tools, you can sit down to create your first piece of digital art.
Creating your first digital drawing can seem complex and overwhelming if you’re starting out. So, you need to take a deep breath and don’t be afraid of making multiple stops and starts.
The steps will be slightly different depending on the software program you’re using, but this example will give you an idea of what you’ll need to do.
Find Reference Images
You’ll need to find reference images to spark ideas and give you reference points during the drawing process.
You don’t need to find the exact image of what you’re drawing. Instead, find images that contain some aspects like a nature scene, clothing, or certain poses.
Also, it’s essential to get inspired. Take a look at unique digital art websites, like this page on digital desert. Browse through digital art collections for sale or different online art exhibits.
The idea is to get your mind to start thinking outside the box. Remember, you’re not copying another artist’s work. You’re simply using it for inspiration.
Create a Rough Sketch
Now you’ll need to create a rough sketch. Keep in mind that this sketch doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll only need to scribble out your ideas at this point to get a feel for how you’d like your final drawing to appear.
Make sure to do a few quick sketches and worry about the details later. This is a great way to warm up your creative juices and helps you establish the proper dimensions and spacing.
Don’t be afraid to create multiple sketches; take the time to formulate your ideas fully.
For many people, it’s best to do these sketches on paper before starting your software program. At the same time, other people prefer to do their sketches right in the software program.
If you plan to scan your final sketch to the computer to use in your software, make sure you use white paper. Colored paper can interfere with the scanning process.
Also, ensure solid lines on your sketch, as smudges can interfere with the process.
Scan Your Drawing
There is no need to panic if you don’t have your high-resolution scanner! You can easily use a scanning app on your smartphone to get similar results.
Simply place your sketch on an even surface with good lighting. You can open your camera app and select scan documents if you have an iPhone. If you have an Android phone, you can use the Adobe Scan app for the scanning process.
For the best results, ensure you scan your drawings at 300 pixels per inch or higher. The higher the pixels, the clearer and crisp your scan will be.
Experiment With Brushes and Colors
Next, you’ll want to experiment with the software. Try the different brushes and colors. See what colors work together and what colors don’t. You’ll typically start with a standard library of brushes, but you can also create custom brushes.
Take this time to experiment with color palettes. Remember, your colors need to have cohesion and create an appeal to your final drawing.
Add Your Final Details
The great thing about digital art software is you can easily manipulate the depth and dimension of colors. You can also go back to add details like texture or wrinkles. Keep track of the tools you’re using for your outlines.
You’ll also need to ensure you add shadows and light to create realistic effects throughout.
Remember, this step can vary depending on the type of art you’re creating, so be sure to invest time in watching tutorials and YouTube videos on customizing your software.
Then you can add your final details to finish the drawing. Before you know it, you’ll have created your first piece of digital art before you know it!
Creating Digital Art
Now that you know how to create digital art, you can start investing in different tools and work towards creating your first piece of art.
Remember, when you create digital art, there are no limits. You can use whatever tools you want to create something truly unique. So, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and keep your eyes open for inspiration wherever you go.
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