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First adventures in digital art: Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 16 🎨

11 April 2021 - Reading time: 6 minutes

At last.  After waffling and putting it off for months, I finally dived into digital art: put aside all my traditional drawing and went in cold turkey for the entire week. What a grand adventure it's been, and still is!

I've never done any digital art because the learning curve seemed daunting, and it was just easier to stay in my comfort zone of traditional drawing.  But now I'm taking my art life seriously, and in order to achieve my personal art goals and endgame, I can no longer avoid upskilling into digital.

For my drawing tablet, I'm using a medium-sized Wacom Intuos I bought several years ago -- and it is now, finally, fulfilling its destiny.  For software, I'm using Clip Studio Paint Pro (CSP), although I experimented with Krita for a little bit.  (CSP routinely goes on half-price sale; Krita is free and open-source.)

Workspace ergonomics is ever important.

For my traditional drawing, I bought a big angled drafting table.
Angling this drawing tablet?  A lever-arch folder is enough.


Study Art

This entire week was devoted to learning the software, figuring out my optimal workflow, and just getting comfortable with the whole process of producing digital art.  Learning how to use software is its own separate skill, never mind how to draw and paint with a tablet; but there are a wealth of helpful resources available now for a digital art beginner.

Resources I used:

  • Clip Studio Tips, especially the Official tutorials, were beginner-friendly, essential introductions to CSP's workspace and tools.
  • Ctrl+Paint is one of the foremost digital art tutorial sites. The short videos were invaluable for understanding how to use said tools, what a good workspace and constructive workflow looks like, and developing a digital approach to producing art.  I'm going to keep working through Ctrl+Paint's free video library.
  • Bonus: my daily drawing buddy also uses CSP and has given me lots of great advice.  Many thanks!

This week's "study art" was learning how to paint digitally by copying photos.  I've neither painted, worked in colour, nor studied any colour theory, so these photo studies were great fun and I learned a lot about the digital painting process.

Value studies on a nude figure.

My first digital painting: Mount Everest (Qomolangma in Tibetan), from a photo I took while on holiday on the Tibetan side of the Himalayas.

Painted using only CSP's opaque watercolour brush, on a single layer.


Fun Art

My "fun art" this week was trying to reproduce my graphite drawings on digital canvas.

I quickly realized that while painting and drawing rely on slightly different but related digital processes, drawing (especially lineart) definitely requires more technical precision and control than painting does.  And it takes some (a lot?) practice to get better at making good lines with stylus and drawing tablet.

I'm very confident at using my graphite pencils to make the marks I want, so it was quite a humbling experience to have to re-learn all that control and fluidity on digital again.  Fun art was less fun than the study art this time.  But I understand digital drawing methods a bit better now, and improving linework is just a matter of perseverance.

I followed Ctrl+Paint's method of starting with a loose sketch and gradually refining it through successive layers (coloured blue).

Lineart of Zhael, an original character.

Faiye, another original character.  Animation of the lineart process.

I've learned a great deal from painting and drawing this week.  Digital art isn't as daunting as I initially thought -- in fact, I've been having a lot of fun learning and exploring the techniques.  So much fun, that I probably need to go back to graphite sketching for a day or two, to maintain my traditional drawing skills!


Next week's topics: more adventures in digital painting and drawing -- I can't wait to learn more.

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Yvonne M.
A journey of unlikely companions
Written by Yvonne M. on 9 May 2021
Am no artist but luv travelling w you as I attempt to write my 1st novel. Thanks for your Art Dispatches.

I'm Vega.

Welcome to my blog.

My Weekly Art Dispatch🎨 is posted every weekend (usually on Sunday) to this blog and email newsletter.

I may occasionally blog about writing other creative projects; book and video game reviews; and real life stuff.

Email me at: vega{at}greatskyriver.net