Creating Art with Digital Media Forms: Where to Begin

All of the resources available today make learning a new digital media easier than ever-- if you know where to begin. This is a clear, simple guide to a few of the basic digital art mediums and how to begin learning them on your own.
The integration of technology and art has created an entirely new platform for an artist to take advantage of when searching for a hobby, a new skill, or even a career.  After all, the antiquated stereotype of a “starving artist” can’t stand up to the outstanding individuals who are making waves with cutting-edge animation and striking graphic art.  However, the education system is a bit behind when it comes to providing education in digital art and media.  That is why it is important for aspiring artists to be able to help themselves to all the resources they need to learn the skills of the modern day artist.

Digital Drawing

While digital drawing has been around for years, it has never been so readily accessible as it is today.  Anyone who wants to try to draw on a computer needs only an internet connection to discover all the resources they need to begin.

Materials: The most crucial item a digital drawer needs is a graphics tablet.  A graphics tablet is a flat, pressure-sensitive pad that a user draws on with a special stylus to guide a pointer displayed on the screen.  Graphics tablets range in both price and quality, but the most important functions to look for are pressure sensitivity and a larger surface area.  These will give an artist the ability to create clean, professional looking drawings with ease (and practice).  

Software:  Before splurging on a high end drawing program like Photoshop, a beginner might want to try some of the more economic options available.  Programs like GIMP or Krita are not only free, but they also share many of the same functions as high end programs.

Instruction:  The best way to learn to draw digitally is through practice.  However, it doesn’t hurt to look at online tutorials read literature on the software used.  While it takes time to adjust to drawing on a tablet rather than paper, it ultimately gives an artist more flexibility and freedom in what they are trying to visually communicate.


3D Modeling/Animation

While 2D animation is still thriving in some industries, 3D animation is being used everywhere from advertising to special effects in movies to video games to feature films.  3D modelling is simply the building of the objects and characters that make up 3D animation.  

Materials: When it comes to rendering the 3D objects, some computers don’t run animation programs as smoothly and will take a long time to work.  This can be frustrating for an artist to wait for a scene or frame to render only to have to adjust it again.  Therefore, it is important that the computer has a strong GPU (graphics processing unit) to avoid this problem.

Software:  Similar to digital drawing, there are many well-known but expensive software programs for animation and modelling that might not be the best option for a beginner.  There are, however, many options free to download online that are great for learning because they have many of the same functions that will transfer over to the professional programs like Maya.  Blender is a great program for beginners because it is free but still has a wide range of functions.

Instruction:  Animation and modelling can be one of the most difficult mediums to learn due to the fact that without a specific course to guide you through it, the majority of learning is troubleshooting.  That is why it is much easier to begin by following some tutorials or taking an online course before attempting to start on your own.


Web Design

While web design might not stand out as an artistic form at first, the design of a webpage plays a huge role in how a user perceives it.  Whether you want to learn how to make your own pages more attractive or are simply interesting in web design itself, it is a skill that is invaluable to learn.

Instruction: While pre-made web design sites are easy and accessible, they are often limited in their functions and give the creator far less control over the product.  That is why learning to code using HTML or CSS is often a better alternative.  While learning to code might seem a bit daunting, its applications are endless.  The best way to begin is to find a book or course that teaches the basics of coding and combining them with other sources (there are many instructive online resources).

Whether you are learning the basics of digital art to complete a project or looking for resources to build a skill, the resources to do so are at your fingertips.  Wherever you are looking to go, there are countless places to begin your journey in digital art.  When in doubt, just choose one and see where it take you.  

Image Sources:
Macbook Tablet Editing [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved December 26, 2016, from
Activemarker2 [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved December 26, 2016, from
[Macbook Pro Designing]. (n.d.). Retrieved December 26, 2016, from

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