Digital Art: How Do I Start?

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You might already be acquainted with the traditional artistic medium, such as pencil drawings, crayons, watercolours, oil painting. Digital drawing, or digital painting, consists of using digital tools by means of a computer, a graphics tablet or stylus, to recreate those effects. In recent years, digital painting has been thriving in art communities, mostly in production art. It is most widely used in conceptual design for film, television and video games.

The popularity of this media is justified by many different reasons: it allows you to paint directly onto a computer, it’s a lot less messy than traditional methods of paints, it’s much faster as you don’t wait for the paint to dry and you can easily delete mistakes, and it allows you to work in layers. Working in layers positively expands your creativity by augmenting the artistic possibilities, and needless to say, we’re a big fan of that!

Illustrations by Anna Jreisat (@annajinks)

Can’t wait to get started? Understandable, we are hooked as well!  To get started with digital painting, you will need just two things: a tablet, and some painting software. But which tablet? We gathered a little list of the different types available to get you started:

Graphic Tablets

The cheapest method, and usually what most artists start with. Depending on how fancy (expensive) the model is, you can get a tablet packed full features but the two main components are always a touchpad and a stylus. Because these tablets don’t have a screen, you will need a computer to plug them in. I remember starting with one of these which put me off digital drawing for several years: I couldn’t get comfortable with drawing on the tablet whilst looking at the computer screen. That said, many people use them and are happy with them.

This is a great one: Wacom Intuos S

Display Tablets

The posh cousin of the Graphic Tablet, they have a built-in monitor on the touchpad which allows you to see what you are drawing. You still need to plug these in a computer but the drawing process does definitely feel more natural.

Top pick is again a Wacom: Wacom Cintiq 22

All-In-One Tablets

The huge advantage of these posh babies (they do not come cheap) is that you don’t need a computer. At all. You can draw on the go wherever you are. They are a computer and a tablet in one, and they are life-changing. This is what I am using at the moment and I can vouch on it being life-changing.

These are the undisputed best ones: iPad Pro Microsoft Surface Pro

Painting Softwares

For what concerns painting softwares, these are some trusted ones:

Photoshop

It doesn’t really need introductions, Photoshop is the most popular image editing software since the date of its release, in 1990. Produced by Adobe, it works on Mac and Windows systems and it can be bought with subscriptions.

Procreate (iPad only)

It’s extremely popular despite only for iPads, and it has been around since 2011. What it does best is to recreate the natural feel of physical drawing, while utilising a digital platform very similar to the Photoshop one but focused on the drawing and painting functions. 

Rebelle

This app allows you to create realistic watercolor, acrylic, wet and dry media artwork, using real-world color blending, wet diffusion and drying. Described as “one of a kind” paint software, it mimics the way paint behaves in the real world.

Illustrations by Anna Jreisat (@annajinks)

There are many more softwares available, each one with its characteristics, depending on the style or type of artwork you are looking forward to producing. We aimed at providing you with an essential guide, but we encourage you to do your own research, in order to make your visions come true in the best possible way!

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