What traditional artists should know about digital art

digital art

The history of art is filled with countless developments in technique and technology. From the first paints made from ground rock pigments to modern digital techniques, innovation is the name of the game. Whether you’re a traditional artist looking to move to more digital forms or you just want to jump into the graphic cold water, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a close look at what’s happening in art, the pros and cons of physical and digital media, and how you can embark on your own unique and creative journey.

The growing importance of digital art forms

Technology is becoming increasingly important in most areas of life. From shopping to creating art, we are under pressure to adapt the way we do things to technological possibilities. But is digital art real art? As with all these things, there is some resistance from those who love traditional art practices. But digital art has much to offer us all.

Digital art vs. traditional art

Although they seem to be very different in terms of how they are created and the final look of the artwork, traditional and digital techniques have a lot of overlap. Traditional painting requires the use of physical media and tools, while digital artists use technology to replicate these effects and create new and exciting effects.

It would be a mistake to think that digital artwork requires less skill or time than more traditional art forms; the biggest difference is in the way a digital artwork is created.

Traditional Art

Traditional art has many advantages and disadvantages over digital media. Many feel that being in touch with your hands allows you to put more of your soul into your work, which makes for a more interesting experience for the viewer. Creating physical art improves hand-eye coordination and develops motor skills. Unfortunately, traditional art is often more expensive than digital media because of the need to constantly purchase new materials.

Traditional art is also considered more unique than digital art. Each piece of art is completely unique, leading many to believe that traditional artwork has a higher value – both financially and spiritually. Traditional artwork encompasses many mediums such as sculpture, painting, and more. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with traditional art mediums and create unique forms.

Traditional art mediums also encourage problem solving and versatility in artists, perhaps more so than digital creations. Although versatile, mistakes made with traditional forms like paint and sculpture are not as easy to fix or remove. While this may seem like a disadvantage, it forces us to adapt, often leading to exciting discoveries.

These imperfections have an authentic value that many feel digital artwork cannot match.

Digital Art

Digital Art

Just like traditional art forms, digital art has its advantages and disadvantages. Many of the advantages of digital art forms relate to access, convenience, and experimentation. Digital art media allows the effects of many physical media to be combined with a single device. Although investment costs to purchase a digital drawing device may not seem particularly affordable at first, they pay for themselves over time.

Digital drawing devices are also more convenient and easier to transport. You can take all of your creative options with you almost anywhere, and you’ll always be ready to create. Plus, you can easily duplicate and share your creations. However, digital technologies are unfamiliar to many artists, so the learning process can take some time.

Digital art is also more forgiving than traditional art media. Any mistake can be undone with the touch of a button. You can erase shapes and redraw them until they’re perfect. Drawing with a digital medium offers many more opportunities for exploration and experimentation.

You can try different techniques and styles, and if it doesn’t work, you haven’t wasted material and can just try again. The possibilities of digital art are endless, which is amazing, but can also lead to creative paralysis. With so many options, it can be overwhelming and difficult to focus.

Some purists also believe that this ease of use can make digital art too easy. However, this is not the case, as again, creating artwork requires many unique skills and techniques.

Materials needed to get started with digital art

While traditional art requires many different tools and materials depending on the medium you choose, you really only need two things to create digital art. Typically, you’ll need a digital tablet and drawing software. We’ve compiled a list of our top recommendations for these two things to help you get started. These products can be costly to start with, but you can save money in the long run with this initial investment.

Here’s what to consider when choosing drawing software

When it comes to choosing a drawing software or app, there are many options. Different software can be tailored specifically to certain drawing styles, including 3D modeling, hand sketching, painting, and graphic illustration. Some of the simpler options are free, but if you really want to use good software, we recommend spending some money.

When choosing a drawing software, you should always look for stability, a comfortable drawing experience, a variety of painting tools, and unique features that might be useful for your drawing style. You should also make sure that the software is compatible with your drawing tablet. Some software options are only suitable for certain operating systems, like Windows.

Our top drawing software recommendation: CLIP STUDIO PAINT.
Of all the different programs and apps out there, we recommend CLIP STUDIO PAINT. This drawing software is versatile and can be used on all major platforms (Windows/macOS/iPad/iPhone/Android/Chromebook). With thousands of customizable brushes, you have endless possibilities! You can also customize every aspect of your brushes to create beautiful artwork.

Digital Art

Some of the special features of CLIP STUDIO PAINT include pattern brushes and other pre-made materials. These can speed up your drawing process and give you endless possibilities for creating marks. You’ll also find an impressive collection of shape tools and rulers, including vector tools that let you edit already drawn lines afterwards.

CLIP STUDIO PAINT includes powerful pen pressure recognition that works with your drawing tablet to capture every nuance of your pen. You’ll get a natural drawing feel, plus this all-in-one drawing software is perfect for artists of any style and level. If you’re a comic or animation artist, you’ll be inspired by the special animation features CLIP STUDIO PAINT has to offer.

  • Customizable to your needs
  • Includes an asset library with thousands of brushes and materials
  • Suitable for all drawing devices and operating systems
  • Natural looking brushes
  • Includes special animation features

Takes some time to master all features

Some basic elements of digital drawing
Making the jump from traditional art forms to digital drawing can seem a bit overwhelming at first. In this section of the article, we’ll go over aspects that traditional artists should know about digital art – including how to use layers, erasers and brushes, and blending techniques.

Setting up a digital drawing environment

Creating a digital canvas is the very first step in the process. The way you create your canvas document depends on the software you use. However, dimensions, color modes, and resolution always need to be defined. Defining the width and height of the canvas determines the size of the final drawing and is also related to the final resolution of your artwork.

If you want to print out a large-format work, you should set the size or resolution of your digital drawing accordingly at the beginning, otherwise the resolution will be too low.

For printing, you should stick to a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). However, if you don’t necessarily want to print your work, you can also work with a standard resolution of 72 dpi. A lower resolution makes your files smaller and your device can work more effectively. Traditional artists always have to think about their color palette before they start painting, this also applies to digital art. There are two digital color modes: CMYK and RGB. It is recommended to create your digital drawing in RGB mode and switch to CMYK if you decide to print your work later.

Explore brushes

As with traditional art mediums, there are a variety of brushes and tools available for digital artists to enhance their work with. The great thing about digital art is that you have an almost endless supply of brushes at your disposal. Many software or apps, like CLIP STUDIO PAINT, have fully customizable brushes with a natural drawing feel that lets you paint your vision however you want.

Digitizing art

This allows you to easily adjust the size and shape of the brush tip to create lines of different shapes and thicknesses. Depending on the medium to be reproduced, you can use brushes that create the impression of e.g. watercolor or charcoal drawings.

Use of levels

Of all the differences between digital art and traditional art, the use of layers is certainly one of the most useful. Layers allow you to separate different elements of your drawing, whether it’s a rough sketch or a finely crafted drawing. If you only want to edit a specific part, you can do it on such a layer without jeopardizing your entire artwork.

Understanding the order of the layers is elementary when drawing on the tablet.

Higher levels are above the lower levels. Another advantage of layers in digital art is that you can usually adjust the order of the layers with a simple drag and drop.

Overlay layers and colors

If you want to create a seamless three-dimensional effect in your digital drawing, you need to master the technique of blending. Each drawing software has its own brush that you can use to blend – e.g. a feathered brush or smudge tool. If you’re new to digital art, you’ll need to experiment a little at first to find out which blending technique best achieves the look you want.

This has to be considered with digital tablets
There are several key features to look for when choosing your drawing tablet. These include pressure sensitivity, size, hotkeys, and connectivity. Let’s take a quick look at what to look for in these traits.

Pressure sensitivity

The screen’s sensitivity to pen pressure determines the quality of your lines and shading. Just as you can adjust the pressure of your pen or brush on the paper to change the line thickness, you can do the same with your graphics tablet. The more sensitive your graphics tablet screen is, the more accurate your lines will be. The highest pressure sensitivity is 8,192 levels, the default value is 4,096.

Screen size

The size of your tablet is a matter of personal preference. A larger screen is usually more comfortable to work with, but portability suffers as a result. Which size you choose ultimately depends on your budget. Larger screens are usually significantly more expensive.


The various connection options are also important to note. Some tablets have built-in screens, while others require connection to a computer monitor. If you have a permanent job, you’ll probably be fine with a wired tablet. However, if you prefer to draw on the go, then a wireless tablet with Bluetooth connectivity is more appropriate. Wireless tablets have a higher price compared to wired devices.