Getting started with digital art

Digital art is easy fun and possible for everyone. It doesn’t necessarily require any expensive art supplies and ones you’re all set up you can keep working with the same equipment for a long time.

Digital art means anything made with the help of a computer. This can include fractal, pixel and animation but also photomanipulation and digital painting. Personally, I mostly focus on the last one; Digital painting.

So what do you need and what should you know before starting? 

Getting started with digital art. What you need and should know.

What do you need;

When starting out you don’t need a lot. The most important thing is probably your drawing software. A lot of artists like to use photoshop since it has a lot of options.

But there are a lot of amazing free options like GIMP and Krita. I would personally recommend the last one since it feels very easy to use and has an amazing amount of options! (I use it!) 

Plus it is really made for painting and illustrating in the first place so it is easier to set it up.

(you can download them via the links!)

Most artists who work digitally like to work with a tablet. Drawing tablets are more like big mouse pads that you use a pen for.

More expensive options like the Cintiq have a screen where it is like you are drawing on paper. But for most people a simple tablet will be enough to start out with.

A well know brand for this is Wacom but there are many others. A good tablet without screen will cost you about 60-80$. Of course, there are many alternatives like looking for secondhand tablets or just searching for the cheapest one but you want to keep in mind that drawing on these thing requires them to be quite sensitive to give the best result!

Drawing with a mouse is also possible while it might be slightly harder. I have seen a lot of amazing artists who work with a mouse even though I will never know how they do that. 

Of course, you will also need a computer. Any computer will do but when you are starting to work bigger and add more rendering your image might get a bit slower.

portrait  of a deer by Sofie Arts on sofiedoesart.com in getting started with digital art.

Why digital art;

If you are a fine artist by trade you might wonder what you would gain by working digital. First of all, I never think you should swap all the way but I do think digital art gives us some interesting options.

  1. You can work on a piece endlessly: there are many traditional mediums that have a limit to the amount you can keep working on it. For example watercolour, you can paint things over but the paint isn’t that opaque so there is a limit to the amount of fixing you can do. Also, pencil, for example, at some point, the paper will be over satisfied. But with digital art, you can go endlessly. I think it is great to really test yourself on how good you could be.

  2. It doesn’t need any preparation; Many traditional mediums require some preparation. For watercolours, you need water and some paper to dry your paintings and brushes, for pencils you might need erasers, sharpeners and solvent. Digital is the easiest of all since you only need to start up your computer.

  3. There is an undo button, do I need to say more?

Trying it out never hurts.

A story of a girl and a deer  by Sofie Arts on sofiedoesart.com in getting started with digital art.

My top three tips for beginners

If you have decided to give digital art a go then I have some tips for you that will help you a lot. These are the three things that really helped me improve and made it easier to create.

  1. Learn the shortcuts for your keyboard, not just undo! My favourite, for example, is the colour picker making it easier to use the same colours over and over again. Knowing the shortcuts saves you time while drawing so you can stay in the flow.
  2. Use layers to make everything easier on yourself. Always make sure that you have at least two layers so you can change the background but really the more the better. Layers can be easily made in digital drawing programmes and often they can be named and grouped. Using layers makes it easier to correct things and add subjects in fore, middle and background. Every artist has different tactics for this like and sketch, line and a colour layer or just layers for different object
  3. SAVE EVERYTHING this is something that goes wrong a lot with digital art. When you forget to save often every progress or, at least, a lot of it will be gone. Using ctrl-s can spare you a lot of frustration. (p.s. Krita has an automatic backup system that has saved me many times)

Furthermore, I would say that when starting off in digital art the best thing to practice is hand-eye coordination. Your drawing is the main skill you will use. Of course, digital programmes come with tonnes of options but in the end, it looks better if you did it yourself.

You can learn all the handy tricks after you have the basics of getting the lines you want and the colours you need.


I would love to hear if there are more people interested in digital art. I have a whole lot more to tell about this subject so I look forward to hearing from you!

I also wrote an article about what you need to know before starting off with markers! 

Let me know if you have tried digital art and if so what would your number 1 tip be for anyone starting out?

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One Response to “Getting started with digital art

  • thank you! i enjoyed using 2bpencils, hb, and using coloring tools. i want to improve and use digital art. its very attractive and the wide range of colors. you don’t need too spend too much for art materials. thank you again

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