Do you want to be a digital painter? Or maybe you’re already a painter and want to learn tricks and techniques to make the art process easier. The internet is full of information on digital painting, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much is out there. You might also feel intimidated if you’re just beginning and are unfamiliar with digital terms, methods, and software.
Digital painting doesn’t have to be stressful! Most likely, you already know traditional forms of media like acrylic, watercolor, and oil paints. Digital painting allows you to create works of art without the mess of traditional painting. You can paint from anywhere as long as you have your laptop (or tablet).
You can work faster and even be more creative with all the digital tools available to help.
The only two things you need to start your digital painting hobby or career are a laptop (or tablet) and a painting software program. Did you know that there are free programs out there too? In case you want to practice first and see what digital painting is all about before investing.
Once you have picked the software you want to use, you will want to get familiar with how the program works. Familiarize yourself with the interface! Know what tools are available in the toolbox. And then play with them to see how they work. You will quickly get a feel for your favorites too!
Even successful digital painters are constantly learning. New tools come out every day so artists can continually develop their skills. You’ll never be the only one who doesn’t know how something works. Painting, even digitally, takes practice. The best thing you can do is keep practicing and keep learning!
How do you set yourself up for success when you are digitally painting?
Besides learning new skills, it’s also important to refresh and refine the ones you already have.
Sketching and painting by hand are both still important, even when you begin to paint digitally. It helps keep your hand movements precise and hones the natural talent you possess. This is also a great option for experimenting with ideas that you aren’t ready to attempt digitally yet.
Learn from other artists while leaving room for your own talent to grow
Learning tips from other digital painters is priceless information. All digital artists make mistakes, even masters of the art! But you can avoid plenty of them by learning from others and implementing the solutions they have found. This will save you time and frustration.
The longer you create digital paintings, the more tips, techniques, and tricks you will come across that help make your work easier. You will even come up with some of your own that you can share with others! Each time you learn something new, you’ll ask yourself how you managed to paint for so long without knowing it earlier.
Of course, not every technique will work for everyone. All digital painters are different and have their own way of doing things. Just like some paints prefer using watercolor and some would rather use acrylics or oils, the same goes for digital painting.
If something works for you, then great! If not, forget about it and move on to look for things that suit you better. There’s no reason to beat yourself up or wonder why something works for others but not you. Every artist’s work is as unique as is their method.
Many beginners desire to achieve great things effortlessly and quickly. It’s not about a lack of skill, but the idea that digital painting software will make the art for you. But software is just a tool. Don’t overcomplicate starting out! At the end of the day, the artist’s effort matters the most, not the tools they use.
Traditional painting vs. Digital Painting
Digital painting seems like it should be easy – the colors are ready to use and you don’t have to mix anything. You don’t have to find the perfect space to fit your things and get set up in.
When artists paint on a real canvas, they usually go in very close and then back up to see how it looks. Then they go in close again and back up and paint. This natural process doesn’t work the same way on a computer.
When you zoom in on a digital painting, you zoom in chunks at a time. And with each zoom, you have to reorient yourself because you lose where you are. This can be distracting and disrupt your flow.
But, there’s an easy fix to this! You can open up a second window. You’re going to find that your painting skills instantly get better just by using a secondary window. Depending on the program you are using, you should be able to click “Window” – “Arrange” – “New Window.” This is one of the most powerful tips for digital painters!
You can leave one window big and keep the other one small. This will allow you to absorb the painting as a whole and still view spots up-close simultaneously. You can zoom into whatever area you need to in the big window while seeing how your marks affect the painting’s overall look.
You can even draw in the smaller window. Drawing in the smaller window allows you to simplify your marks and lines. This will help you paint fast. Really fast!
Paint easier. Paint better.
Some beginner and even intermediate level artists refuse to use reference when they paint. They feel that this slows down their progress and takes up too much time. However, all digital painters should strive to convey things from their imagination through simplifying shapes.
Reference helps you to understand things easier and concentrate on figuring out your workflow. You can upgrade your basic skills by using reference without racking your brain. If you are ever having a hard time knowing what something looks like, the fastest way to learn is to look at a reference of it. Reference pictures make the painting process flow smoothly!
Another challenge you may face is having too many windows and files open at once when you’re using reference photos. Freelancers typically have this problem because they work on multiple projects at once.
Maybe you’re not a freelancer. Maybe you just like to multi-task and find yourself in the same position. You’re constantly bouncing back and forth between windows. This can get confusing and completely disrupt your progress. Not to mention it can waste your time! Trying to locate the right file when you need it can be a headache.
Organization is key, even in the digital world. Another tip to make your life as a digital painter easier and keep organized is to expand your canvas so there is a nice, sizable border around it. You can then place your reference pictures around the sides of your canvas. You can fit 5, 15, even 20 reference pictures in one screen while you work. You can group the images together so you can remove them and add them back in with the click of a button!
This trick is especially useful when you are working on a complex project – a certain type of environment or landscape, or a certain type of animal or creature. You will no longer have to switch back and forth between a dozen pictures. If you zoom in, you can still see all of the reference images. This simple method will change up the way you paint for the better!
To sum things up
Digital painting has evolved tremendously over the last decade. Graphics software and painting programs are constantly developing. Digital painters have all kinds of imaginative tools at their disposal. The possibilities of what you can create are endless and digital painting provides a unique, creative experience compared to traditional painting.
There are many benefits to digital painting versus traditional methods. Digital painting saves money, time, and space. It’s also efficient because there’s never a mess to clean up after! The time you would have spent cleaning can now be used to keep creating instead.
From quick tricks to shared techniques from the pros, there are things you can learn to make your digital painting even easier and better. Utilizing the flexibility of software programs can help you stay organized and on task. Technology was meant to make your life easier, and this even applies to digital art.
Whether you are a beginner or intermediate-level digital painter, there are many online art courses, tutorials, and guides to help you get started or to help you keep developing your skills.
A digital painter’s toolbox is full of tools that don’t exist in real life. Doesn’t that sound like magic? That’s because it is! Developers have created unimaginable tools that help digital artists bring their visions to life through a screen. Isn’t it about time that you brought your vision to life?