Some novice artists download the twist brushes in the hope that they will help them create a masterpiece. But brushes aren’t the point. Let’s tell you where to start if you really want to succeed in digital drawing.
Learning digital drawing can be compared to swimming: imagine you bought the best cap, the most beautiful swimsuit, and the most expensive flippers. You came to the pool and want to swim the best and fastest. Is it possible if you don’t know how to swim yet?
It’s not about brushes, it’s about your drawing skills
You’ve probably heard from many experienced artists that it’s not about brushes. Amir Zand, for example, says that a brush by itself does not work wonders, and that drawing is made possible by a combination of ideas and tools. Brushes only help the experienced artist to achieve the desired result faster and easier.
Use texture brushes when 80% of the work is done: they can help add an interesting accent or texture and speed up work on the background.
Usually two or three brushes are enough. This same point of view is held by artist Jesper Ejsing, who proposed the Four Brushes method. He started out painting with acrylics and only used 4 brushes:
- 1 wide and thick for large surfaces and backgrounds,
- one flat brush and one medium-sized round brush for the main details,
- 1 small thin brush for faces.
According to the same method, you can use brushes in digital drawing as well.
At the same time, you can make a good drawing even with one basic round brush.
Now let’s talk about where to start in digital drawing.
How to get used to a tablet and Photoshop
It’s best to start learning Photoshop with the basic tools: brushes, layers, and blending modes. Adjust your brush, try changing the size and transparency.
Try a few lines, draw some simple shapes.
Next, you can practice with layers and blending modes. Study the panel with them, switch between modes and see what changes:
Now it’s worth practicing on something more complex than lines. A good exercise is to draw a balloon:
- Start by drawing a black and white balloon. Don’t worry about perfection. Decide where the light falls from, and draw the light and shadow on the balloon in rough strips. The darkest part will be in the middle: the part that is turned away from the conditional lamp will be illuminated by the reflected light from the table.
- Soften the transitions with the brush with intermediate gray shades. Now you can add color: create a new layer, select the Multiply blending mode for it and paint the balloon in the base color. Create another layer and in Overlay mode, go over the highlights with the color.
- Apply the finishing touches. Adjust the brightness, saturation, and contrast – you can do this through all the same layers – this way you can always correct something in your work without affecting the drawn base. For example, if you need to increase the contrast of the sphere, copy the layer with it and select the Soft light mode for the new layer.
Practice further with shapes: cubes, cylinders, spheres. If you learn to draw them from different angles, you can draw anything, even a person, because any object or image can be decomposed into shapes.
As you work, it’s important to get used to the hotkeys. Do this at the initial stage, otherwise later use the mouse to switch tools will greatly hamper your work. So keep a table with the most popular keys (you can print it out and hang it near the monitor) and force yourself to use them.
The main thing is to practice regularly. Remember the power of small steps? It’s better to exercise for 15-20 minutes, but every day, than a whole hour, but once a week.
Positive reinforcement of a new action is also very important. Let’s say you were exercising for 20 minutes and took a break. Treat yourself to something pleasant during this time: you can eat something delicious or go for a walk in sunny weather. If you do this, your brain will form a positive response to the activity you were doing. This means that then drawing will bring you pleasure, even if you don’t spoil yourself with a tasty treat during the breaks.
How to study theory: general principles and tips
Self-study can be like swimming in the ocean in a rubber boat. There is too much material and it can overwhelm you. To stay afloat, use a few tips on how to study a new subject.
- Don’t grasp several topics at once. Delve into one, then move on to another.
- Study the basics: books on color theory, anatomy and composition. This knowledge will come in handy in any case, no matter what style you draw in.
- Watch interviews with artists, this will give you insight into other people’s experiences.
- Develop soft-skills: the ability to communicate with people, respond positively to criticism, and give positive feedback. They will come in handy when communicating with customers and employers. Everyone is more comfortable working with an artist who not only draws coolly, but also understands the task, knows how to work with edits, and lets you know if something goes wrong.
- Learn English: you will have a much wider range of sources of new knowledge.
- Broaden your horizons. The more interests and knowledge you have, the more you’ll be able to tell the viewer.
- Set goals and objectives that will motivate you to grow. But do not set yourself too high, because if you do not reach it, you will be disappointed and lose motivation. Move forward gradually, in small steps.
- Tip: “Watch your health, it does not forgive mistakes. To avoid problems from a sedentary lifestyle, read our article on how to keep an artist healthy.
- In addition to regular practice, study additional information. If you only draw without feeding yourself additional knowledge, you’ll learn to draw well, but on one level. And if you draw and learn new things at the same time, you will rise to the next level.