Is a drawing pad that connects to a computer better than pen and paper?
Traditional art is an incredible talent to master. Once you have found a style and created something with pen and paper, you have something entirely original that you made. Digital inking, digital art or digital illustrations are becoming the new normal. Electronic art pads for computers make it easier than ever to crank out comics with some of the digital tricks that you find online. One great outcome of that is that your artwork gains more visibility online because it’s easier to share.
However, that’s really not what digital art is all about. There is something truly beautiful in the detail and creativity that comes from drawing online. It’s also a greater way to achieve permanence and greater visibility of your work.
If you are thinking of becoming a digital artist, there are also some things to keep in mind as you transition. There are different tools and techniques to drawing in the digital space that may take some getting used to.
What Can You Do With Digital Art
Some people think that digital art is the path to the dark side, but it’s really not! There are some really unique and totally new things that you can do with digital in comparison to traditional art. You also don’t have to choose. Many artists who rock digital media also work with traditional media any time they want to.
One way digital art is beneficial is for completing large pieces of art. With digital tools, cloud storage and digital tablets, many artists discover whole new ways of looking at their art and creating new possibilities. It can save hours for redrawing and resizing. You don’t have to copy any sketches into the computer to share or print.
You also can use new software to animate your art and even turn it into a video, thus creating something that uses new media.
Most of all, digital art is a new form to experiment with. It’s not necessarily better than traditional, just different.
Take a look at this time lapse video of Digital Artist Aaron Blaise who creates this incredible creature from a cloud formation. Notice the use of elephant skin texture which would be incredibly difficult to replicate as easily with pen and paper!
What’s Not to Like about digital art?
Some artists get started with digital art and feel like they are starting over. The tools may contradict the way that you work with traditional media, and some of the standard tools out there are quite expensive. For example, you may need to buy a new computer to handle Adobe software.
Software can be pricey. Adobe Creative Suite comes with a subscription that has a price tag of $9.99 for just one of the tools. Most digital artists use a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator. You may need more tools and opt for an all-in-one package that costs over $1,000 per year.
Photoshop Elements 14 is a cut down version of the full photoshop version and at a cut down price. It has all the basic functionality of Photoshop and for an artist starting out in graphics art it is a great way to start without breaking the bank.
There are some free tools like GIMP and Adobe Express. While these will help you get started, senior digital artists typically opt for Adobe or Sketch.
Another pitfall is learning how to draw with digital pen and tablet tools. Traditional media is often a sketchpad or canvas. Digital tablets are often used by artists to interact with a digital pen. You can only draw within this space. Learning how to use these tablets can be a drawback at first.
Equipment Used by Digital Artists
Graphics tablets fall into two categories:
- Wacom are the leading graphics tablet brand in the field and have various screen sizes from 13″ up to 27″. See my review of the full Wacom Cintiq on screen tablets here…
- Wacom Cintiq tablets are in the higher price bracket for on screen digital drawing. However, there are other some excellent cheaper alternatives and if you are on a smaller budget it is well worth shopping around. See my review on other direct screen drawing tablets which list other brands here…
The stylus pen draws onto a drawing pad and the image appears on the computer screen attached to the pad i.e. indirect drawing. The downside of this is that it can take some getting used to and doesn’t suit everyone. On the plus side the price is generally a fraction of a direct draw graphics tablet.
Again Wacom have some excellent indirect draw tablets with their latest ‘Intuos range which includes the software all for under $100. See my review of the new Wacom Intuos range with graphics software bundle here…
Other computer Hardware
- Newer computer with i3 or better processor and HD Graphics
- External hard-drive
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Sketchbook Pro
- Sketch (optional)
- GIMP (Free)
Other peripheral graphics equipment, functions and services
SSD or 1 TB Hard Drive
Your own website/blog
While not all of these are necessary to get started, a digital pen and tablet is highly recommended. To go along with the tablet, you will need software that works with it such as Adobe Photoshop. This software recognizes pen pressure and allows you to quickly draw and paint using the digital pen and tablet.
If you are thinking about working with digital media, there are a variety of online classes, videos and webinars out there that can teach you a little bit about how the tools work and what to do in the beginning. These are some skills you’ll need to master:
- How to set up new hardware
- How to plug in and install digital pen and tablet
- Drawing with a digital pen and tablet
- Creating and drawing in Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator or other graphic art software
- How to save and organize your digital works
- How and where to share digital art
- Create profiles on digital art sites like Behance
- How to scan and open traditional sketches into your computer (if continuing illustrations from traditional media)
Digital media and design classes are offered at most art schools and colleges with an arts program. Online schools may also have courses that will guide you through the process of learning Photoshop and using a tablet.
Otherwise, some great videos to look at include the following:
Digital Artists to Follow
There are so many digital artists out there with a variety of styles and skills. You should pick the digital artists that you like the most. Look for videos of them drawing or teaching some different techniques to learn from.
You can really be inspired by Seveso. An artist from Bristol, he has created incredible pieces and showcases many of them using Behance. He has received over 2.1 million views on his work.
Another artist to follow includes a master of character illustration. Parfenov is a talented creative artist that has contributed many works. Rolling Stone magazine, Wired, GQ and Playboy are some of Alberto’s clients. You can view his portfolio on Behance as well.
Shau is an example of a mixed media artist. She uses both traditional and digital art to create incredible portraits and illustrations. Sony BMH and Cadbury have both used her illustrations.
One of the best digital illustrators, Campbell hails from Vancouver. He first started using Photoshop in 2007 and has continued to create amazingly bright and curious characters.
Aaron produces sublime digital artwork with a fantastic track record in Disney animation. He is one of the best digital art tutors you will find on the planet. Aaron offers free tutorials and some great products and paid courses all at realistic affordable prices. I have written a review of Aaron on this site which I would highly recommend that you take a look at. You will be impressed and inspired with his genius! See my review on Aaron Blaise here…
Digital art is simply a new medium. It’s a way for artists to bring art online and create something totally different. Just imagine avoiding some of the tedious aspects of traditional art. Some digital artists work completely without any traditional media while others have become mixed media artists.
As you start to explore digital media, always look for things that inspire you. Do what comes naturally as art is an expression of the soul. It really depends on the direction that you want to go.