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July 25, 2021

Adventures in Digital Artistry

First thoughts on the leap into practicing my art.

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Woman's hands drawing on an iPad
Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema | Unsplash

Digital art has come a long way from those days of spending 18 hours on Paintshop Pro, hoping my parents won't turn off the computer while I'm asleep to lose my work. Back then, layers couldn't be saved, at least in the software I was using. It was frustrating to lose 18 hours of work only to start over again, but that was my life in high school trying to move my art from paper and pencil to digital.

Over a decade later, after a significant sidestep into music, I've come back to working on digital art, and I have to say that there have been tremendous improvements to the platforms I was angsting over, also, with the advent of platforms like YouTube. Finding tutorials on things that are a struggle that is readily available almost instantaneously is now a breeze.

It was pretty easy for me to get back into because I already owned an iPad, and acquiring an Apple Pencil was no problem. I'll mostly be talking about my experiences on that device because it is the main one that I am using to date.

There are two applications that I've used. The first one, I have pretty good experience with it because I had used it for a while now, and the other one is relatively new to me.

The first platform I started with and used consistently is ibisPaint. The developers have an excellent free version of the app that made starting pretty easy. Many of the features were available. The main drawback was if you wanted access to all the brushes for 24 hours, you had to watch an ad. Watching the ads isn't too much of a hassle, though, if you think about it. There is also a reasonably priced paid version as well that eliminates the ads.

I have spent a few months working with it, and the following image is my latest work using the ibisPaint:

One of the significant pros of ibisPaint that I have found is that changing the blending mode on the layers is pretty simple, and you can click through each one to see which you would like to use. There is also a plethora of brushes, and a unique feature I've found in my limited experience is that ibisPaint gives you access to premade backgrounds.

In this image, I used the background for a library in the anime-style background tab. The image above was an earlier work. I haven't quite mastered the art of lighting and shadow for most of my work, particularly lighting, but I'm proud of them just the same.

The other platform I recently started using is called Procreate, a paid platform but highly recommended by pros who work on tablets like the iPad. I went ahead and purchased it to see what it was like, and I have to say that as far as creating line art, and coloring I've found there's somewhat of an improvement over ibisPaint.

One of the main features I immediately fell in love with that is available on Procreate is creating custom color palettes. I've been heavily using it to create color palettes for skin color and eye color. I found a picture of a dystopian style drawing in this rendering, and Procreate rendered a color palette.

A feature I'm having difficulty with at the moment that didn't take me too long to figure out in ibisPaint is the selection tool and using it to place shadow. However, once I master it, I'll share this image again with the shadows included.

Aside from the creating color palettes feature, the way the lines come out while drawing is superb. Also, the response to changes in pressure on the pencil is excellent as well. Procreate was well worth it.

Starting back from square one as a digital artist in adulthood has been a breeze. The advent of user-friendly technology, user-friendly software, and availability of pro artists doing free and paid workshops had helped tremendously with accelerated improvement in picking up where I left off almost a decade ago.