Arts Top Stories

Tips for Making the Transition from Traditional Drawing to Digital

Jude Roberts

At first, I was unable to draw digitally using a mouse. My first graphics tablet took all the joy out of drawing and beat me. It produced terrible results, except for my sister who used it. The device was not to blame, but the operator. My hands were coordinated only for paper and canvas, which I believed for a long time. Four years ago, I was able to use a pressure-sensitive tablet. Although I was able to see the possibilities in my work, it was still difficult for me to translate my artistic talents onto my tablet.

Astropad is an excellent option to make the transition to digital art without having to buy a graphics tablet. You can view your drawing results on your iPad or MacBook screen.

Here are some tips for digital drawing success:

1. Use a large artboard to work on, then scale down when you are done.
You can maintain image quality by scaling down. If you change the size of your canvas, from small to large, you risk pixelation. Zooming in and out allows you to see more detail, especially on a smaller screen.

2. You can go monochromatic or use a different background color.
This is helpful if you are unsure where to begin or have difficulty with line development, shading, and color. It can be distracting to have a blank canvas or access to so many colors. After you’ve finished your drawing, you can experiment with colors and add them later. Digital painting can be more your thing. Good background color can help you to ground your image while you work.

3. If you don’t want to be crippled, layers and undo can be your friends.
The ink can’t ever be erased when used digitally. Digitally you can experiment with layers and undo to erase mistakes. You don’t have to work on all layers if this freedom is a hindrance. You can also erase and paint over your mistakes instead of using undo. This will allow you to invest more thought and effort into your decisions until you feel confident with your “power” to organize your actions or reverse them.

4. You can experiment with different textures or create your own.
You can easily see fine textures in your sketch if you scan it and zoom in. You can play with the different brush settings in your software, such as the flow, opacity, and scattering. Find what you enjoy working with. You can also make your own brushes, or buy custom-made ones.

5. Bring your own art experience. Digital art is another medium
It takes some adjustment, just like buying new pens and brushes. Allow yourself to adjust to your graphics tablet or software. Learn about your tablet preferences and adjust software settings to suit your workflow. Although you have the knowledge and skills to use a tablet, it takes practice to transfer them into another medium.

6. Develop confidence by scanning your drawings and converting them digitally
Don’t let your frustrations get you down. Use your strengths to your advantage! This is how I worked for many years, and it still works today. If you’re a good artist with pencil and paper, then draw first and scan the image. Then, add color via the tablet. You will eventually be able to work entirely on the computer if you want.

7. Keep your eyes on the results
Be patient with yourself. You can feel overwhelmed by the number of amazing online works, but it can also make you feel insecure about your own progress. If you feel this way, stop looking at other artists online and focus on building your own foundation. Ask questions and get tutorials on forums.