I am both a traditional and digital artist and I find it very difficult to choose which medium I love the most. Moving to digital art was not really easy after years of making traditional illustrations. I remember that I had no idea how to get started with digital art as everything seemed so overwhelming.

When you start looking into it, it quickly becomes clear why digital illustration has overtaken traditional methods of creating artwork, at least in a professional capacity.

Digital illustration tools changed the process and open up a world of opportunities for me. Now I do most of my works and commissions digitally.

How to get started with digital art

What is Digital Art ?

So you might already be familiar with traditional media, such as watercolor, oils, or acrylic – and now you’re wondering.. “what is digital painting?”

Digital painting is a relatively new but an already established art medium. It’s a medium that typically combines a computer, a graphics tablet, and software. The artist uses painting and drawing techniques with a stylus that comes with the graphics tablet to create drawings/paintings within a digital art software.

Digital painting is used by hobbyist and professional artists. Its use is particularly prevalent in commercial production studios that create games and movies.

How to get started with digital art

Pros of Digital Art

The advantages of digital illustration are too many to list here, but most important :

– Digital media is faster than traditional media. When painting with watercolor for example, you will need different kinds of tools like paper, water, paint, paintbrushes etc. It takes time to prepare all of this and it takes time to maintain all of the tools. When painting digitally, you don’t need to worry about all of this.  Everything is already there in front of you.

– It provides endless possibilities. There are so many different kinds of brushes or functions that it would take you forever to try them all out. Digital artists can easily create awesome artworks with the help of some tools like layers to unlock entirely new ways of working.

How to get started with digital art
How to get started with digital art

– As I said before, I work mostly on Procreate on my iPad so being able to carry my works anywhere with me is a huge advantage! It is really, really, REALLY cool to be able to work everywhere, on the restaurant, on the plane, on your bed.. without a lot of tools needed. Just the iPad with Procreate and the Pencil, and your creativity.

– You don’t need to be scared of making mistakes as you can cancel/erase it by just clicking the undo button (or Ctrl+Z). This enables artists to experiment with different techniques and colors easily as its use of layers, the undo function, and save files, make it a non-destructive work process. You can always return to an earlier state within the art piece so nothing is ever truly lost. This not only saves time but also materials while giving the artist more freedom to create. In traditional art, everything you put on paper will most likely stay there and you will have to start all over again.

Device & Software

First of all, choose a device and software you want to start with.

There are a lot of different options. You can use your current computer/laptop and download illustration software. I would recommend the world-famous graphics software Adobe Photoshop. With its long history and advanced features, it is used by many professional designers specially for game or movie concept arts.

Expensive software have advanced features, but that does not necessarily mean it’s easier to draw with (or that they will meet your needs). It’s best to get some experience first. Most paid software have a free trial, so you can choose whether or not to purchase something after testing it.

How to get started with digital art
How to get started with digital art

After choosing a software, connect a pen tablet to your computer in order to draw smoother lines. You will find several companies that sell pen tablets, but Wacom tablets are the most popular products. It has a huge range of tablets in different sizes and specifications.

Beside using a computer, you also have the option of drawing on a smartphone or tablet. However, in some cases these options tend to be limited technologically. Make sure you select a device that meets your drawing needs, including how serious you want to draw. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choices available but don’t overcomplicate it! At the end of the day, the tools don’t make an artist. I personally use either Photoshop on my laptop or Procreate on my iPad for my digital illustrations and both works perfectly fine for me.

What to draw first ?

Now that you have a software and a device, it’s time to open a blank canvas and to try the brushes. First, learn to control the stylus and your pen’s pressure sensitivity. The risk of wasting materials is gone with digital art, so you can freely experiment with colors, blend modes, and different brushes. Layer is also an important tool to learn. Understand why it is a lifesaving fundamental for digital art. Placing various elements of your image on different layers lets you edit and adjust your image in a variety of ways while still being able to revert it back and not negatively affecting other areas. Once you master it, you can move on to drawing fundamentals like learning perspective or shading.

See and try the options the software is offering you. Then start painting random things. Draw things that surround you, trees, houses, furnitures, mountains… Practice by trying the different tools. You will get better and better with time. You can also find videos of drawing ideas on internet. There are plenty of beginner tutorials for people who want to learn how to draw. You can check some tutorials I shared before about trees and mountains if you would like to try.

The most important part of it all, though, is to experiment. While the fundamentals are important, art is all about creatively expressing your own self. Pick up a stylus and have fun.

How to get started with digital art

How to get started with digital art

How to get started with digital art

My Own Experience

I am happy to use Procreate. I was not sure in the beginning if it was worth it but now that I made many illustrations with it I’m glad I gave it a try. Procreate is worth its $9.99 price and is great for simple sketching, doodling, lettering and for some creative illustrative artworks.

It is easy to learn, specially if you already know how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. As with every new software, you need some time to adapt it for your needs and learn shortcuts. There are an infinite possibility of the things you can do with Procreate. If you like digital art, then go for it! It’s easy to use and has a large range of features. As an illustrator and designer, I work with Procreate often and I hope that these informations will help you have an idea of this App.

How to get started with digital art
Understanding layers in Photoshop

Congratulations, you’ve taken the first (and most difficult) step as an artist… which is getting started!

You will be amazed by everything you can do with digital medium. Don’t get me wrong, I still love traditional medium really much. It still have a big place in my life but sometimes using the digital world is just easier and faster.

Aaanyway, if you have any question feel free to ask me. I share also a lot of illustrations on my Instagram, and if you still have time, check out my other posts!

Understanding layers in Photoshop

Understanding layers in Procreate

Happy drawing!

How to get started with digital art