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Most of us, if not all of us, have probably found a hobby we didn’t know we could be so passionate about during the pandemic. For me, it turned out to be digital art.

When I discovered digital art four years ago, I was overjoyed. I mean, I don’t know about you, but for my life, I can’t figure out how to make crayons and paint in a way that will result in something beautiful. After all, it’s so easy to just add colors to a sketch using Paint Program’s fill tool and get an instant result, isn’t it? Well no. Turns out it’s not that simple.

Digital art requires as much, if not more, patience and care than traditional art. It’s almost like any other language that takes time to learn and understand. However, like a new language, it can be mastered. I’m not a digital art master, but I’ll walk you through the basic steps to becoming a digital artist. Who knows, maybe you’ll find it as much fun as I do!

Find device and pen

A touch screen device is essential to digital art, unless you know how to use a mouse (which I would respect you a lot for). It could be a tablet, Chromebook, Surface Pro, or whatever you find comfortable to use! I’m using an HP 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop and it does the trick. Unless you’re really serious about digital art or want to pursue a career in digital design, I wouldn’t recommend investing in anything very expensive.

Whether you want to invest in a stylus is completely optional; I managed to work with my finger before buying this beauty about a year and a half ago. Again, don’t invest in an expensive pen either! You can easily find a decently priced one on Amazon that would work just as well as an expensive one. Or, you can use your finger. Just take my advice and don’t buy the ones with rubber tips. Although they tend to be less expensive, the quality reflects this and in my experience the ear tips rip after only a few months of use.

Get drawing software

Provided

By drawing software, I don’t mean Paint Program or Paint 3D. I mean a professional program that will allow you to dive into the world of brushes and layers! Some of the best drawing software include Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI, Clip Studio Paint, and Procreate. However, most of them are expensive, and if you’re just doing digital art as a hobby, you might not want to spend your money on an expensive program. But, you guessed it, there are free options!

I’ve been using Medibang Paint Pro since I discovered digital art and I’m currently working on transferring to Krita. They are just as good as the paid programs and are quite easy to use once you get the hang of it! The layout of Medibang is simpler and I was able to figure out how to use it without searching for tutorials or the guide. Krita is a bit more complicated in its layout and I had to watch a tutorial to figure out how to navigate it. However, it has a lot more brushes and tools than Medibang, so once you figure out how to navigate it, it’s definitely worth the confusion!

Another important thing is to find a configuration that works best for you. My general setup is to have everything color and tool related on the left side of the program, while the canvas overview, layers and brushes are on the right. Experiment and see what you prefer!

A photo of Krita, a digital art software, set up.
Fatima Alzubaidi

Learn to make art

And of course the most important step, learning to draw and produce art. Experiment with brushes to see which one you prefer to draw with, use for line art, to color, shade, etc.! Learning the power of layers, opacity and tools is an absolute must! Take a look at this reading list for the steps to take to figure it all out if you still find yourself spiraling down the spiral of confusion.

Remember that techniques, styles and brushes used by other artists may not work for you! For example, an airbrush might be the perfect drawing tool for one individual, while a simple standard brush might be perfect for another. Work in your comfort zone. If you’re having trouble following a tutorial with brushes used by an artist, try to find the brushes that work best for you, or try something totally different from the tutorial!

A photo of an eye, face and hands sketch.
Fatima Alzubaidi

Enjoy!

It may seem overwhelming now, but the point is to have fun! No one will judge you for making random doodles, drawing the most random things, or taking pictures of your traditional art and tracing over it in the program, which I do! I can’t even make a good background yet without making it look like a six year old’s drawing!

Digital art is a journey that takes a lot of practice and patience, but in time you will master it!

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