What is digital drawing?
In general terms, digital drawing, digital art or digital illustration is what is done in digital drawing programs (software), such as Illustrator or Photoshop. But when we talk about digital illustration itself, we are referring to more elaborate work, since it includes more graphic elements and editing effects.
From digital drawing software and applications, both paid and free, to online platforms that can be accessed by anyone in the world. Digital drawing is a wide universe that you need to know step by step before you start drawing.
What are the advantages of drawing digitally? What equipment or devices do I need? Or what are the most recommended programs for digital drawing? If you are asking all these questions (and more), don’t stop reading this article until the end.
Digital drawing or digital art is an artistic technique that has its origin in traditional drawing. The latter is done with specific materials, such as pencil, eraser or brush; digital drawing uses digital tools and programs.
In other words, digital drawing or digital art uses software that emulates the traditional techniques of conventional drawing, such as charcoal, watercolor, ink, oil, etc.
If, in essence, drawing is a linear representation made with a pencil or brush; digital drawing is a vectorial linear representation, such as clips or infographics.
Digital drawing usually uses vector programs, such as Illustrator, but can also be done in bitmap editing programs, such as Photoshop.
If you want to get started in the vast world of digital drawing, you will need to have the right drawing device and software. But we will get to that later.
What is vector drawing?
Vector drawing, also known as vector illustration, is a digital drawing technique that consists of drawing geometric objects (lines, curves, circles, etc.) to create a graphic image out of them. For example: drawings, logos or fonts.
Consequently, the resolution of vector images is practically infinite. That is, they can be maximized or reduced without affecting their color and shape.
For example: to create a vector illustration of a pet, you can use a photograph as a base. The photo is “traced” by lines and other geometric elements. These elements together are what will form a vector image.
Unlike vector images, these types of images are composed of a series of pixels or points. This means that the greater the number of pixels, the higher the quality of the image. This is known as resolution. Therefore bitmap images depend on a permanent number of points.
What do you need for digital art?
Remember that most digital paintings software is paid software. And you don’t necessarily have to start using expensive software. So before you buy, we recommend that you try it out. Most of them have free trial periods. Take your time.
If you already have a desktop PC, make sure that the RAM is at least 8G and dual channel. If not, find out if it can be expanded.
Another aspect you should take into consideration before starting digital art is the monitor. Monitors below 20 inches are not the most recommended. Although, if this is the case with your current monitor, don’t worry too much, you can replace it later.
Drawing with a drawing tablet is much better than drawing with a mouse. If you are thinking about buying one, we say that there are several drawing tablets ideal for beginners. For example, the Wacom brand is one of the most recognized in the industry, the company has devices with differentiated prices.
If you draw by hand, don’t stop doing it. Getting started in digital art does not mean abandoning your traditional drawing skills. Instead, they will help you understand digital drawing more easily.
What does it take to make a digital drawing?
First of all, you will have to define what devices and tools you will use to make digital painting.
These are the tools and devices you need to start creating digital art:
PC / laptop and mouse: these are the devices widely used by artists making vector illustrations. The mouse will function as a pencil or paintbrush.
PC, tablet and digital pen: Drawing on a tablet is the closest thing to drawing with a real pencil. This device is connected to your PC or laptop and includes a pen.
Graphic tablet and digital pen: But there are also graphic tablets that do not need to be connected to a PC. They have touch screens and allow you to draw directly on them with a digital pen.
Tablet and digital pen: tablets are not like graphics tablets, made for digital drawing; however, due to the size of their screens, they are also a good option for drawing. To do this, you will need to download a drawing application and buy a pen.
Cell Phone / Smartphone and digital pen: Nowadays there are cell phones that allow you to make elaborate drawings, thanks to the many drawing apps that are on Google Play or the Apple Store. However, the screen size of these computers can be a limiting factor when drawing. Also, remember that you will need a digital pen.
Digital art Software
Without a doubt, the most popular option on the market is Photoshop. Adobe’s program is a sophisticated software, with endless features such as brushes, layers, cutting and editing tools, color and text editing. Not to mention that the software can be used not only for digital drawing, but is also an image editor and a favorite of designers for assembling graphic pieces.
Using a tablet and photoshop for the first time may seem daunting at first glance, but don’t despair! One advantage of using such a widespread program is the numerous tutorials you can find to learn how to use it, or to ask questions. You will also find many resources such as brushes and presets to download to enrich your work.
Unfortunately, such an amazing tool comes at a price. Photoshop costs from $9.99 per month, but if you are on a budget, there are other programs like Paint Tool SAI and Krita that are free! Both have tools like brushes and layers, but are a bit simpler, not least because they are not image editing programs.
Procreate: If you are willing to make a larger investment, a tool that many artists are adopting is Procreate, available only for iPad Pro. Like Photoshop, it offers a good variety of features that mimic other drawing and painting techniques. The app itself costs $9.99 to download, but the iPad Pro with the pen costs a lot more than a tablet. However, besides the convenience of drawing directly on the screen, it has one big advantage which is that it is a complete device. If you use a tablet you need a computer, the iPad is already a computer. In other words, besides being able to be used for other purposes, it is super portable and easy to take wherever you want.
What software do digital artists use?
Once you have analyzed what equipment you have to start drawing, it is time to choose the digital drawing program that you will use to make your creations. The offer is quite wide.
What if you are wondering, “what is the best tool”? Actually, the answer depends on your goals as an artist, your budget, and the condition and performance of your devices.
These are the most popular digital art software and applications:
If you decide on a vector style, Illustrator is considered by many professional artists to be the best illustration software because it has advanced features. It also has good typographical functions. It is a paid software, although it offers a free 7-day trial period.
It is the world’s most popular graphic design software. But it is not only made for illustration, it also has editing, 3D, digital painting and even animation functions. Photoshop is an ideal tool in creating digital art, and the best thing is, it’s compatible with almost all devices! If you think you need to learn more about this amazing software, you can always enroll in a Photoshop training course to expand your knowledge and improve your skills.
Paint Tool SAI
It is a light, fast and user-friendly drawing program. One of its strong points are the color and blending tools. If you are just starting to draw or illustrate digitally, Paint Tool SAI is a great program. Although it only works on the PC. Its free trial period is 30 days.
Although it is a graphics editing and retouching program, GIMP also allows you to draw and paint digitally. The best part? It’s free. It is compatible with JPG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF formats, and also with Photoshop. Perhaps this is why, over time, it has become the best free alternative to Photoshop.
GIMP has a catalog of effects and selection tools such as brushes, textures, scale modification, cloning, etc. In fact, its interface is very similar to the Adobe program. In addition, it is possible to install plug-ins.
This is Adobe’s drawing application that invites you to “discover (or rediscover) the joy of drawing and painting.” Fresco is available for Windows tablets and iPad. Fresco features vector tools, brushes similar to traditional tools, an eyedropper that allows you to sample multiple colors simultaneously, etc.
If you have an iPad and prefer portability, Procreate is a good alternative for you. Although it is an app, it is very complete in functions. With it you can create professional sketches, paintings and illustrations. It will be like having a portable drawing studio. For best results, the use of the Apple Pencil will be fundamental.
This is a drawing app available for free on Google Play, iTunes Store or Mac App Store. It also has desktop versions for Mac and Windows. Autodesk SketchBook is a powerful tool for sketching and illustrations. In addition, it has an interface designed to maximize drawing space on all devices.
Other apps you can find on Google Play are Ibis Paint X, Medibang Paint, and Artflow.
Clip studio paint pro
Clip Studio Paint is the digital drawing and painting tool that many believe is the best Program for digital art.
Many people think that because it is Japanese, the software is only good for concept art (or for manga artists and comic artists) and anime (Animations). But on the contrary – the tools, functions and the powerful Brush Engine are absolutely essential and make it the perfect alternative for any kind of digital art creation on the computer.
How do you make a digital drawing?
There are many different ways to paint. Here is just one example of how you might start if you are a beginning artist, as the process of making digital art can seem complex at first.
- Open your drawing program or application and create a new file, after that set the length and width of your sheet.
- Create a new transparent layer and call it “sketch”.
- Make a sketch of your drawing. Create a new transparent layer and call it “sketch”.
- Now reduce the opacity of your sketch or lines, to serve as a guide when drawing.
- Divide your drawing into parts and create a layer for each of them. For example, if your drawing is a character, create a new layer called “hair” to draw just that part. Don’t forget to name each layer you create.
- Set the “pencil” size and start drawing on the new layer. After the custom brushes, and after you have drawn, make sure that the “hair” layer is above the “sketch” layer.
- Don’t forget to create multiple layers, i.e. create a new layer for each part of your drawing
- Sketch the parts of your character, orienting it from the sketch.
- After you have finished outlining all the parts of your character, save the sketch. This way you’ll be able to better visualize your drawing.
- To color your drawing, make sure everything is closed. That is, there are no open lines.
Resources for Beginners
Some suggested resources for you to use while creating your first digital arts and also throughout your career as an illustrator or digital artist.
Free images and references: Unsplash, FreePik, and Pinterest.
Platforms and communities for digital artists: ArtStation, DevianArt and Behance.
How to make digital art online?
There are several programs and applications for drawing online. Although many of them also have a downloadable desktop version. These apps work in a web browser, without the need to install them on your computer or device.
This is an easy app to learn and teach. Of course, to use it in your browser, you will need to install a Flash plugin. Otherwise, it offers the option to go to the website and use the app in its free version. Sumo Paint offers more than 300 different brushes and many unique tools and effects.
This is a drawing application that you can use for free online. It also has its downloadable desktop version that costs $4.99. With Sketchpad you can draw, sketch, edit photos, or design. It offers 18 brushes and more than 5,000 cliparts.
In addition, it supports JPEG, PNG, PDF and SVG formats.
This is a free digital drawing program created by the DeviantArt community on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. This platform has 21 brushes, basic and professional modes, an intuitive layout, and supports all HTML5-enabled browsers, including the iPad.
Which app is best for digital art?
There are a few contenders for the title of best digital art software for beginners, all options have a learning curve. Once you learn one, all the tools are similar enough that it is not difficult to switch to another. You just need to learn what layers are, what effects you can do with them, and learn color palettes, opacity and flow.
If you want to start with no investment, we suggest Krita, which is free software with many options.
Other popular options are: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Fresco, Adobe Illustrator, Procreate, GIMP, Corel Painter, ArtRage, Affinity Photo, Clip studio paint pro, Medibang paint pro, Paint Tool SAI, MyPaint, and Autodesk SketchBook.
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