Digital Art 101: Everything you need to know

Lately, many artists are diving into the imaginative world of digital art because of the comprehensive opportunities that it holds. Trying to switch to a digital medium is not an easy task. For an aspiring beginner, becoming a digital artist from scratch may seem a like a daunting endeavor. But with some practice and skill, the pen tablet can turn into your wand in no time.

Learning the basics

Even if you’ve been exploring art as early as childhood, you will need to become familiar with the techniques of painting digitally.

Because it is significantly different from traditional art.

Firstly, you need to get an overview of the different tools and brushes that exist and how to go about using them. From personal experience, I would suggest experimenting freely with all of the brushes until you start to understand how things work. And of course, there are millions of tutorials online that can help you get a head start.

Debunking the age-old myth

I hate to break it to you, but no. Drawing digitally is not “easier” than drawing on paper. No matter how convenient it may seem, it does come with a lot of complications, so don’t go into digital art thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park.

You don’t have to stick with Photoshop

When people hear the words “digital art”, they automatically associate it with Photoshop. Many assume that it is the only program available to draw with. While learning Photoshop can be great for you in the long run as an artist, it is not the most user-friendly software for beginners. You can explore a variety of other programs like Clip Studio Paint, Krita, Autodesk Sketchbook (did I mention this is free?), MyPaint (also free), Corel Painter Essentials, etc. All these new programs have truly made digital art a lot more approachable, so try a bunch of them and see which one works for you the best.

Use photo references

Let’s be real, it is unrealistic to expect that you’ll know how to draw everything and anything in this world, and that’s why photo references exist. Using hand drawn sketches or photographs as a photo reference can really ease up your creative process. Additionally, there are plenty of stock websites that solely exist to help you with this, so go on and scour the Internet for whatever you need. But remember, the idea isn’t to completely recreate these images; it is only there to help you start off so you can add your own intricate details to it and eventually be able to draw without the help of references.

Pro tip: When you’re struggling to find the accurate photo reference of a figure, just make your friend pose accordingly and use that instead!

Using layers

I cannot stress how important it is to understand how layers work when it comes to digital painting. It is a magical feature that will make your creative process ten times easier. Knowing how to use layers according to your own advantage will give you a lot of power as a digital artist. Because then, you’ll be able to edit your art without any restrictions. Even though layers might seem confusing at first, it is really is a no-brainer once you start using it.

Investing in a tablet

One of the cardinal tools for digital art is a graphic tablet. Using a mouse will hinder the quality of your work immensely while also making your fingers numb (I kid you not). The number of options out there can make it seem like an impossible task to choose the right tablet. The truth is that there is no one right tablet, and it all comes down to your own requirements and affordability. Some of the most popular manufacturers right now are Wacom, Huion, XP-Pen, Ugee, etc.

The important part is to spend some time researching. Maybe watch some videos on YouTube, and figure out how much you’re willing to invest in this. Some important things that you want to keep in mind are the size, pressure sensitivity, pen, accuracy and of-course, the price. Not all of us can afford the really fancy, expensive tablets, especially beginners, so you can consider going for a modest one to help you get started.

Tip: Wacom Intuos is one of the most recommended graphic tablets of all time at an affordable price and is great for entry-level artists. It also comes with three 3 free drawing software.

Try again and again and again

Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP.  One of the biggest eradicators of creativity is our own self-doubt. But as a creative individual, you have to push through it and start believing in your own work. Keep striving to improve every day and don’t be disheartened by comparing your progress to other artists who have had years of experience. Remember that they also started off somewhere, clueless, just like you.

Why networking is important and how to do it right

Networking isn’t too difficult despite what some of us may think. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and venturing from one social circle to the next. Eventually, you will come across people who share the same interests as you.

It’s pretty straightforward. The more you connect with people the more your network grows. And so do the perks that come along with it. When you see an opportunity to foster friendships with people from the same career path, just take a deep breath and go for it.

If you’re still not clear on what do, here’s a quick starter’s guide to get things moving.

1. Establish a rapport

Networking is essentially all about building genuine relationships with people within the industry. It makes life easier when you’re able to “click” with someone instantly without too much effort. And that’s always a great confidence booster.

You can break the ice with anything that comes to mind; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a work-related topic. Just be yourself. Make each other feel at ease by exchanging jokes, talking about hobbies or other common interests. Try to eliminate as much awkwardness as possible.

The whole point of networking goes beyond making good impressions. It’s about forming lasting friendships so you don’t end up becoming just another name on a business card.

You want the person to remember you wholeheartedly so grab every chance when it comes to mingling; whether that means a lunch invitation, a meeting over drinks or something unexpected. Like, a random encounter in an elevator.

2. Keep in touch

Keeping in touch with your contacts is a vital element of networking. Once the foundation is laid you want to retain and strengthen all those new relationships you just built. And that’s best done by maintaining active communication.

Reach out to your new friends every so often with the occasional phone call, text or e-mail. Interact with them on social media. Post on their wall, comment on their status updates or drop a quick “Hi!” in their inbox every once in a while.

Once all the formalities are out of the way you can plan more personal meets. Like a coffee date or brunch that can help create a closer bond. This will ultimately grant you more insight into the world you work in.

If you fail to keep in touch then there’s no point reading the next chapter. Your story ends right there.

3. Helping hands

Networking is basically a two-way avenue. The more you help out the more favors you’ll get back in return.

It’s like playing a co-op video game. You can’t complete certain missions without a partner providing occasional assistance to help you along the way. By the same token you want to help out when your partner is in need.

In a professional context always offer before you ask and take a genuine interest in other people’s projects.

Reach out from time to time and ask your friend if he/she needs a few helping hands; this will greatly enhance your reputation and credibility as people will start to observe a more attractive personality in you.

If you don’t have intimate knowledge in your friend’s project, provide a contact that can out help out instead. Having a contact in your pocket that can help a friend is synonymous with helping them yourself.

Words can have a powerful influence on people. Remember to thank or show gratitude in any shape or form when your friend agrees to help you.

4. Bring a wingman

Attending an event alone can be daunting when you’re in a crowded room full of new faces.

Having a buddy by your side when you’re networking will boost your confidence and help take away some of the awkwardness. Bringing a friend from a different company is even better. It’ll break the ice more quickly and will stir up more interesting topics to discuss.

Finally, a friend can help take some of the load off if you notice the conversation is becoming one-sided. Talking about yourself all night can get a little redundant. That’s when your friend enters and spins the conversation and stops you from bragging about your own agenda.

5. Mix and match

Make an effort to attend a variety of events as much as possible.

Going to summits and seminars allows you to connect with influential people on a more personal level. The more you explore the greater access you’ll get to people from other relevant fields in the industry. That’s a valuable asset to have in your arsenal.

Speaking out at different summits and seminars gives a platform to offer your thoughts and ideas to others even if it’s an event you wouldn’t normally consider attending.

Doing all this strengthens your reputation and eventually, you’ll be able to influence others to join your cause.

RECAP

All in all networking is a make-or-break game, but once you’ve mastered the ropes it’s a lot less intimidating.

There is no substitute for relationship building. Think of it as a long-term investment, the more hands you shake the more benefits you’ll receive in return.

Be confident and come dressed with a smile. And as long as you have this basic toolkit the rest will come naturally.