I've Made Digital Art Since 2013. Here are Some Tips and Tricks I've Learned

Before 2013, I had never used any digital art program. All throughout high school I had used the good old fashioned method of drawing and painting. I'm not trying to brag, my art pre-college is... well. Let's just say it not up to par.


Once I was a couple years into art school, I fell into an art style that I developed into my current one, and a lot of it was thanks to learning to use digital art programs, mostly Adobe Photoshop.

The art above is from 2014-2015 ish. This was when I was fully into using Photoshop and falling into an art style that I was happy with. Well. At the time anyway.


My art eventually got better with lots of hard work, and some trial and error here and there. Now I use both digital and traditional methods of art-making to create my pieces, sometimes incorporating both for one piece.



I always remember how much I didn't know about using digital programs to make art until very recently. It's interesting to see how far you've come.


For this post I'd like to share my digital art experiences and how they helped me become a better artist, and offer you some helpful advice if you're also new to the subject of digital art. It seems like lots of artists are using programs like Photoshop and Procreate these days, but if you have no idea how to use them, then where do you start??


Digital Programs

First off, I'd like to take you back to 2013-14 where I learned how to use Photoshop, the one digital program that's used by many different artists and businesses. I had never even opened the program until I got to college, so I was nervous yet eager to learn about it. After getting the hang of the user interface, setting up my canvas, and using the tools, I was able to produce artwork for my classes as well as my personal work. I learned different tricks with the program, like photo filters, gradients, and more to make interesting effects. I also downloaded that giant list of Kyle brushes that a lot of artists used. With that I could get more realistic-looking brushes to use. All the art I made was created using an old wacom tablet that I eventually upgraded to the one I use today. Although I did take advantage of using the high-end Cintiq machines that my college provided.


After years of using Photoshop on my little laptop, I recently upgraded to the PC that I use now, and I found Photoshop to be a little clunky to use. The brush tool would lag a bit when I wanted to create small strokes, and the Adobe subscription services were rubbing me the wrong way. I didn't understand why I needed to pay $50+ dollars for a handful of programs like Illustrator and InDesign, Adobe programs that I used along with Photoshop. With finances getting tighter with 2020 being the year that it was, I decided to take advantage of a Black Friday sale and purchased Clip Studio Paint.


The instant I got the hang of this program, I fell in love. The brushes that came with the program were a god-send, the comic panel layout tool made creating comics way easier than trying to deal with Photoshop, and it felt like a program truly made for the modern artist. My art even looked better!


For context, the art pieces above these ones were created in Photoshop, and these ones were created using Clip Studio Paint.


I have fully switched to using Clip Studio Paint as my choice of digital art program. Why? Well because it feels like it was catered to the type of art I want to make. There is a wide variety of brushes that feel like I would actually use; I'm not trying to make "realistic paintings" like some of the Photoshop brushes offer. I want my art to look like digital art! If that makes sense.


And I can't give enough praise to Clip's comic tools. I can easily create panels where I can only draw in those panels, and there are even tools to instantly create speech bubbles too! Even action lines!


I am currently working on Jazz Chapter 3, which has a total of 46 pages! So any help on making pages faster is greatly appreciated.




So. This blog post was supposed to be about tips and advice right? Well, here are some of mine:


Tablet or Cintiq?

If you're in the market to buy a digital drawing tool, what's the best one out there? And should you use a drawing tablet like this:

Or a Cintiq where you can actually draw on the screen like this?


There are good things about both, as well as different price points. These photos were from the Wacom website, but there are a lot more brands of drawing tablets out there.


The tablet offers both a wired and wireless way to draw, and with some calibration with your computer, you can be a drawing machine! There are also some buttons on the machine that you can program in keyboard shortcuts too. If you need a closer look, or want to feel like you're actually drawing on a screen, the Cintiq might be your best bet. I loved working with these in college, and I am currently saving up to purchase one.


There's also more than that! If you prefer drawing on a screen, might I suggest an iPad and the program Procreate? Lots of artists and graphic designers have taken advantage of Procreate's tool set to create some amazing art. I personally am not a fan of drawing on an iPad; I tried it, and it felt too slippery for me, but lots of people have made it work for them.


My friend Poku uses his iPad to create these wonderful sketches and finished pieces. Every time he puts out a new sketch I'm amazed.

Can't Get the Hang of Digital Sketching?

When I first started making my digital pieces, I had trouble getting the hang of sketching directly in Photoshop. I felt like the drawings weren't as "genuine" as they were when I used a pencil on paper. I still have days where I love sketching digitally and days where I can't stand it, but generally its good to sketch out your drawing in your sketchbook first to get the general composition down, then transferring that drawing over to the computer and finishing it digitally. I do this all the time, I highly recommend it to artists who are still getting used to digital art, or who are new to art in general.


However, if you can make a piece start to finish all on the computer, more power to you! It's good to experiment with your artistic process, and change it up if an art block pops up.


There's no shame in using traditional and digital methods together. I do that all the time! I love seeing a photo of line art that was colored digitally; it's a nice way to see an artist's skills with both methods.


My Art is all Pixelated

It's good to know some specific points on how to size your artwork, especially if you're new to digital terminology. Generally, it's good to work at 300 DPI or higher for a nice, hi-res finish. DPI, or dots per inch is how many dots, or pixels are contained in one inch of your canvas. I generally work on canvas sizes around 8x10 or 8.5x11, or 10x10 if I wanna work in a square format.


Some good formats to save your files are:


PNG: if you want a hi-res file that supports transparency; good for making logos

JPG: A general file format that works well with a lot of different uses

GIF: For making, well, gifs.


If you are looking to save and upload your art to the web, stick with an RBG color format. If you are looking to print your art, switch to CMYK. RGB is the color format used with computer monitors, and CMYK is the color format used for printers.




This is all super generalized tips for you. If you want me to go in depth on different things like file formats, color formats, and more, let me know! Or you can use google and watch some YouTube videos about making sure your art looks good in all formats!


What do you think about digital art? Have you tried using different programs recently? How about using a mix of digital and traditional methods? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


<3 Allison