Tips for Beginners: Getting Started in Digital Art
The biggest problem that arises when you move to digital illustration is preparing your set-up and choosing a device. This article summarizes the main things you need to think of when getting started.
If you’re thinking of starting digital art for the first time, the following questions might have crossed your mind:
“What do I need to start drawing?”
“How much will it cost to get drawing apps and digital drawing tools?”
If you’re worried about this, read below for a summary of all you need to know when getting started. (Please note that prices in this article are only a guideline.)
1. Devices: Computer, tablet, or smartphone?
Drawing on a computer
If you already own a computer, good news! You can continue using it without buying a new one.
Memory-wise, although you can draw using only 4 GB memory, we recommend going with 8 GB or more if you want to get the most out of your new device.
Many recommend Mac computers for drawing, but you can absolutely draw without any problems on a Windows computer or on a laptop. Feel free to choose the operating system you prefer.
Drawing on a tablet
Tablets make it easy to start drawing digitally! All you need is a drawing app and a tablet stylus to get going. Some more well-known options are Apple iPads with the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and the S pen for Galaxy tablets. Specifications for different apps are outlined in their respective app stores.
Drawing on a smartphone
You can download an art app and draw on your smartphone as is, but some smartphones support pen pressure sensitivity, which is important if you want to draw lines as you would when drawing traditional art. Check if your phone can detect pen pressure. Samsung Galaxy devices can use the S pen and Androids and iPhones with pressure sensitivity can use Wacom stylus pens like the Bamboo Sketch.
If you use a computer, you might want a pen tablet
If you have a computer that does not have a touchscreen for drawing, you’ll need a pen tablet.
You can draw smoother lines with a pen tablet, so if you want to draw a picture on a computer or on a laptop, you should prioritize this tool. You will find several companies that sell pen tablets, but Wacom tablets are the most popular products. Wacom’s product line-up is really solid and works well for beginners.
For details on different tablets for beginners, please refer to the following article.
You also have the option of drawing on a smartphone or tablet using a stylus. However, these options tend to be limited technologically, so they might hold you back or make you feel less confident as they tend not to reflect the details of strokes.
Make sure you select a device that meets your drawing needs, including how serious you want to draw.
2. Illustration/drawing apps
Various types of software exist, ranging from freeware to paid professional programs and applications.
It’s best to get some hands-on experience first. Most paid software have a free trial, so you can choose whether or not to purchase something after testing it. Also consider your budget.
The big names in software
A world-famous graphics software. With its long history and advanced features, it has attracted many professional designers. It is often known simply as Photoshop.
Adobe 7-day Free Trial
A sophisticated software for comics and illustration. The software is popular with many professional artists, especially comic artists. It’s sometimes abbreviated to “Clip Studio” or “CSP”.
Free trial of Clip Studio Paint
An intuitive and simple drawing software. The software has less features, but operates smoothly even with low specification.
31-day free trial of SAI
Software is an important tool for drawing. You should choose the software according to what you want to draw, whether illustrations, comics, portraits, anime-style art, watercolor-style paintings, landscapes, or characters.
For more information on the latest comparisons of drawing software, see this article where we compare 13 different drawing applications for PCs, tablets, or for smartphones!
3. If you want a bigger display, invest in a monitor
You don’t need to purchase a new display if you’re confident with the current one with your PC.
However, if you are planning to buy a new monitor, choose a large one because it will reduce the tiredness. 20 inches or more is good! This might be crucial if you plan on drawing on your laptop.
4. Final thoughts
As you can see, starting digital drawing has very different, the start-up costs depending on what you buy:
- Computer(Including the monitor)… Between US$450–US$2,800
- Pen tablet… Between US$100–US$2000 yen or more
- Pen pressure sensitive stylus for tablet or smartphone… $99 USD – $129 USD
- Application/Software… Free or up to $300 yen (or even more depending on what you buy!)
- Scanner… From US$100
On the other hand, if you decide not to buy a computer, and use a freeware with a small pen tablet, you can get started with around US$100.
When drawing traditionally, your supplies eventually run out and you have to purchase them again. However, with a digital environment, you do not have to replace the equipment, costing less in the long term.
You don’t need to start with a high-performance computer, try using what you have and practicing drawing digitally until you can shift to a better set-up.
You will gradually understand what you need for drawing a better illustration, such as a more pressure-sensitive pen tablet or a less glossy monitor.
Remember, the drawing tools don’t make the artist!
(Created by: Nyle Inc.)
(Author: Wakako Ishida)