Teach Yourself Digital Art: A Beginners Guide

What is the best way to learn digital art?
What is the best way to learn digital art?

How do I Start Learning Digital Art?

Starting with digital art may not be an overnight decision for you. You may have been already interested in traditional drawing or painting, but since we are at the age of digital technology and there are various means for you to show your creativity, you considered digital art. But how do you start with it?

What Tools Are You Going to Use? Understanding the Basics

What Tools Are You Going to Use
What Tools Are You Going to Use

Since digital art is creating artwork with the help of digital media, you must have a device to practice the art. Below are your options.

Desktop Computer or Laptop

If you already have one, you may use it to start your journey to digital art. There are systems requirements, though, that your computer must possess so you can enjoy the activity without your computer lagging, freezing, or crashing. Ideally, your computer should at least have an 8GB memory or higher and an Intel Core i5 or i7. Although the minimum i2 is still doable, using it will not be as effective.

If you are buying a computer and don’t know the specs you need for digital drawing and art programs, you may seek help from the store specialist so they can help advise you on a computer that will befit your requirements.


A bigger monitor is ideal compared to a smaller screen. You can also see details better with a large monitor.

Pen Tablet

Using an IPen Tablet
Using an IPen Tablet

It is the tool that you need to connect to your computer to draw. The specialized pen lets you draw on the screen, just like drawing with pencil and paper. Some other uses of pen tablets include tracing images, capture a handwritten signature, or replace the mouse with pointing and navigating the computer.

Please look at this drawing and sketching video course I have createdUse this link.

Some Samples of Pen Tablet

Wacom Intuos s

It is a beginner-friendly pen tablet. It is customizable and budget-friendly. However, the size is smaller than compared to other Wacom Pen Tab. To check the current price on Amazon click here.

XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Display

Although this is priced higher compared to the Wacom Intuos, the quality speaks for itself. It is for those just starting with digital art or who want to have a better tablet option. For more information and to read the lastest reviews. Use this link.

Huion Kamvas Pro 24

This one boasts a higher resolution and a sizeable space for drawing. The tablet is highly responsive and the perfect device for anyone who likes to have an exceptional experience with digital art. To view this product click this link to visit Amazon.

Ipad Pro 12.9 Inches

It is going to be significant for you because of the processing power and the overall vibrant color. This pen tablet is ideal for those who have more to spend on digital art devices. View details relating to this product by visiting Amazon.

Wacom Cintiq 16

This product costs a bit higher compared to other entry-level tablets. Like other Wacom products, the company makes sure that they have much to offer with pen tablets. It is the company’s hallmark to provide a quality pen tablet but still affordable for many. Find the latest price here at Amazon.

Tablet PCS

You can draw directly on the screen using a pen. You will not need a pen tablet for this to work cause you have a touch screen PC. Tablet PCs have been on the market for a few years now, and with their popularity, there are more being manufactured nowadays to make it possible for any digital art enthusiast to buy one at a more affordable price. For more information click this link to visit Amazon.

Illustration Software

These are the programs and applications you will use to learn digital art or digital painting. Various types of software are free, or you have to pay for a minimal price or expensive software. Of course, if you choose the latter, it has advanced features you can enjoy instead of purchasing low-cost software.

You need not buy the software unless you have a free trial, so you can test if it meets your requirement.

Can I Learn to Draw Digitally?

It is always the interest that will help you learn something and, of course, the focus. The basics are what you should go for during your first try at digital drawing. If you already have some experience using paper and pencil/pen to draw, this is an edge for you. If you get the creative juices flowing and want to draw digitally, this is a step ahead.

Whether you have the experience, you still need to start with the basics. That is how you apply what you know and practice it. Here is some fundamental training you have to accomplish when learning to draw digitally.

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Learn the Basic or Foundational Drawing Skills

When you hear the word foundation or basic, it gives you the idea that you need to take the first step cause that is the starting point for digital drawing. Practicing the vital shapes such as squares, triangles, or circles and then trying the rest of the shape to see how good you are with the strokes and your hand control.

Do not worry about your art styles but perfect the basic skills first.

Learning to Shade, Highlight and Set Shadows

Shading defines an object, and the way you set the shadow is crucial as well. The shadow and the shading can turn a simple artwork into a remarkable one or a lifeless object that can attract even the most critical eyes.

It is learning the basics of how light reacts with the object or how it creates a shadow.

Determine where the light is coming from to get the proper shade, shadows, and highlights.

Practice Drawing Unique Objects or People

Once you have started with the basics and practice the different shapes, you can draw objects you see around you. See how that object cast its shadow and practice shading as well. It can be as simple as the banana on the table or the coffee cup near you.

Learn Anatomy

Since you will not just be focusing on drawing just a few objects, you need to learn about the human body and how its movement and the function of the joints will help you get a clearer picture when you need to highlight, shadow, or perfect the body shape.

Color Combination

You may already have previous knowledge about coloring when you are still practicing traditional drawing and painting, but you also need to create beautiful color combinations with digital art. Choosing color is easy cause everything is in front of you, and you only need to pick a color with one click. However, one must practice blending, color coordination, color relation, and how to arrange each color.

Some learning you can also get from watching drawing courses online. Various online sessions are more precise for beginner or advanced students. You can take the opportunity and take a digital art course to delve more into the world of digital drawing.

Drawing Software and Programs

Drawing Software and Programs
Drawing Software and Programs

With the many digital art software and available programs, you think you can have your pick from the vast selection, but no.

There is a hierarchy of the programs and software from where you can select the best. However, some are not worthy of your attention. Before you purchase or use any drawing software and programs, make sure that you have read each description of the programs and it is the right fit for you. Here are some of the popular digital art programs and software.

Adobe Photoshop

This software started in the late 80s and was used to edit and manipulate digital images. It is considered the high standard of image editing and lets you create stunning images, illustrations, artworks, and more. You have the power to design whatever you choose. You can make posters, banners, signs with the help of the tools in this program.

There are various pens, brushes, markers, and pencils at your disposal like traditional materials. Adobe Photoshop also comes with advanced features, and one is paint symmetry.

More surprising about this program is that you can all undo your work with just a few clicks and start anew.

You can use it on Windows and Mac Operating Systems.


It is a free digital art software made available to the public in 2004. Artists who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to get an image-editing program or digital art software can enjoy it. Even though Krita is free for anyone interested, they load it with highly useful features, such as 9 brush engines including particle, shape, and smudge.

It also has a brush stabilizer tool, PSD compatibility, and OpenColor, which are all remarkable.

There is a pop-up pallet to make picking colors easy for you and brushes at your disposal. Krita also has a Wrap-Around Mode feature that allows users to create seamless patterns and wonderful textures. The multi brush tool helps to achieve a multicolor effect.

Krita is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, Chrome, and Linux.

Corel Painter

This program was released to the public in 2007 and is being compared with Adobe Photoshop. This two software have distinct features that they boast about that make them unique.

Corel Painter is perfect for graphics editing such as printmaking, drawing, or painting. Other features are the smart stroke technology, improved color detection, digital brushes, grid tool for painting, and unique color wheel.

This software is compatible with various OS, including MAC and Windows.


They released this app in 2011 for the enjoyment of iPad users. It can run on iOS version 11, and older apple iPad devices can still access this app as long as they have a version 11 in place.

Many consider Procreate a game-changer for those who want to experience the digital world of drawing and create visual art. They designed it for Apple’s tablets with the use of stylus tools.

Seasoned artists and beginners can dab in this app and learn to work digitally.

Procreate can help create art fast, correct drawings, delete them, and make artwork ready for sharing online.

Drawing Courses

Digital Drawing Courses and Resources
Digital Drawing Courses and Resources

Digital art, drawing, and courses are available online, and some are even free. You will get a certificate after and of course the most important is acquiring some knowledge.

Sessions College Professional Certificate in Digital Arts

It is a 360 clock hour program to be completed in 9 months while you are studying part-time. One can learn drawing techniques, creating images, illustrations, and concepts, also designing.

Udemy Free Digital Art Courses and Tutorials

* _Procreate 5X_

* _Creating Digital Art on Procreate iPad_

* _Easy Photo Editing and Design _

Udemy Paid Digital Art Courses

* Complete Beginner’s Guide to Digital Art_Use this Link

* Ultimate Guide to Digital Sketching: Use this link to visit Udemy

* _The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Art with Procreate_

* _Drawing and Painting on the iPad with the use of Procreate_

Skillshare Online Digital Art Classes

* _Basic Skills: Getting Started with Drawing_

* _How to Start and Keep a Daily Sketchbook_

* _Learn to Draw: Daily Practices to Improve Drawing Skills_

* _Getting Started with Digital Drawing: Tools, Software and recommendation for Newcomers_

* _Traditional to Digital Drawing_

Teaching Yourself Digital Art

If you are to jump to digital from traditional art, you need an idea of the requirements.

* You can develop your understanding of digital art by going online or looking for courses, e-book, or training that are sometimes offered free or at a minimal cost. There are also art schools you can attend if you are willing to pay for the learning.

* Attend seminars about digital art. Join a community of artists and art clubs where you can get some pointers from experienced artists or digital art enthusiasts like yourself.

* See art contests where some speakers or guests give pointers and teach about digital art.

* Always practice whatever learning you pick up. Even if it is from free online courses, from an e-book, art books, or links, the most important thing is trying it yourself.

Digital Drawing

Digital drawing may be easier for some because if you compare it to traditional drawing, it may seem such a simple feat, but it is not. An artist interested in a digital drawing may have left the pencil, paper, paints, and erasers behind but the skills they must bring with them.

What you will need with digital drawing is digital painting software, graphic tablet, or display tablet – and add determination to the mix.

_For online inspiration, you can get into some sites for free or for a fee where you can learn how to draw and paint digitally. _

* The Oatley Academy Artcast (Free)

* Control+Paint Library (Free)

* Paintable: Digital Painting ($35/month)

* Classroom in a Book, Adobe Photoshop CC ($35)

Suggestions About Digital Drawing

* Understand and learn to use your digital software

* Learn to open a new document or a blank canvas

* Explore the tools and review the software interface.

* Study the brushes and erasers

* Learn to apply it during your first try

_You are not required to learn things quickly since you need to practice before getting used to the tools and the digital software. _

Digital Painting

Digital painting is using painting software on a tablet or a computer. You can utilize and practice with digital brushes and various paint colors on the software, just like the traditional painting.

If you are painting traditionally, you may face a small learning curve once you start with digital painting. If you try it, you will learn the style you are more comfortable doing and adjust your artwork according to your taste.

Digital painting is your own artwork, and it is not generated automatically by the computer or the tablet you are using. The advantage is that the tools you will need to create a stunning painting piece are at your fingertips. All resources you need are available and which you will use to your benefit.

The images that you conceptualize in the digital painting are based on your creativity and imagination.


* Digital painting is not messy. There are no physical tools that you need to store or clean up after finishing your project.

* Materials are no longer as complicated as purchasing one paint color after another.

* No more drying of the canvas or the finished product.

* Highly convenient cause you don’t need to take up a sizeable space while painting.

* Infinite digital painting tools are available.


* It may compromise original artwork.

Using a Drawing Tablet

A drawing tablet made it possible to finish the artwork in minutes. It also provides the tools you need digitally, such as the paintbrush, marker, pencil, and eraser.

You only need to choose the perfect drawing tablet for yourself, and of course, your option is based on your preference. Some things you need to consider when acquiring a drawing tablet are the resolution, pressure sensitivity during stroke application, tablet size, tracking speed, the material used during manufacture, connectivity, software compatibility, price, and the brand.

Guide When Using Your Drawing Tablet

* Ensure that you have your pen programmed correctly.

* Keep your pen safe and in its pen stand.

* If your tablet has specialized buttons or dedicated keys to provide you with more convenience, use it.

* Choose the perfect nib for your pen.

* Get acquainted with the customization to make your use of the tablet a breeze and something that you will enjoy.

Create Art With My Favourite Drawing Resources

General Drawing Courses. I like Udemy if you want to develop your knowledge of drawing techniques. Udemy is an excellent choice due to its wide range of creative courses and excellent refund policy. They often have monthly discounts for new customers, which you can check here. Use my link.

Sketching and Collage. Take a look at this sketching resource I have created. Use this link.

Proko. Is one of my favorite teachers who surpasses in the teaching of Anatomy and Figure drawing. Prokos course breaks down the drawing of the human body into easy-to-follow components aiding the beginner to make rapid progress. For this, I really like Proko.

Art Easels. One of my favorite ways to draw is by using a drawing easel, which develops the skill of drawing on a vertical surface. The H frame easel is an excellent vertical way to add variety to the style and type of marks you create when using a drawing board.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I made for you.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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