Digital art can be an exciting field for many passionate artists. There’s something thrilling about using a drawing tablet for the first time and drawing on your computer just as you would on paper. However, digital art can be confusing for many beginners and pose a lot of questions.
Many aspiring digital artists tend to think they need to learn how to draw before starting digital art. Even though drawing can really help you create better digital art – it isn’t necessary. So, don’t give up on digital art yet!
Learning how to draw also depends on the kind of digital art you want to create. There are some forms of digital art that are much more complex than others. This could require you to have some decent drawing skills.
In this article, we’ll dive a bit deeper into this question and look at the importance of traditional drawing in digital art.
Can I Learn Digital Art If I Can’t Draw?
It is possible to learn digital art even if you can’t draw. You can use shapes, lines, and the pen tool to draw digitally. Since you don’t have to worry about drawing the “perfect” circle, creating digital art might seem easier at first but it isn’t any easier than traditional art.
Digital art is just another medium like traditional art. Starting with digital art won’t magically make you a better artist but it can definitely give you a slight edge in some areas.
Digital art is much more efficient when it comes to drawing. You can quickly undo mistakes, customize brushes, and make consistent strokes – all in one program.
However, it should be noted that you can’t expect to be a good digital artist without any drawing skills. If you can’t draw that means you probably have no idea of the basic fundamentals of art.
Unfortunately, in order to make good consistent digital art pieces, you need to have a good understanding of gestures, anatomy, shading, lighting, etc. Color also plays a huge role in digital art so a good understanding of color theory is also essential.
Can I Use Procreate Even If I Can’t Draw?
Another follow-up question some beginners ask is “Is Procreate worth it if I can’t draw?” This is a common question as Procreate’s popularity has boomed in recent times. Its popularity is mostly due to it being a great app for drawing digitally on the iPad and that most professionals use it as well.
You can use Procreate if you don’t know how to draw as it is beginner-friendly. Although you might not get the raw feeling of drawing, Procreate’s smart A.I. can recognize imperfections and instantly correct them.
Drawing shapes is easy in Procreate as once you draw a shape all you have to do is hold your Apple pencil and it will make it perfectly symmetrical. This makes drawing easy on Procreate.
But still, the issue remains that it is just an app – just like every other app. It can’t magically make you a better digital artist but can definitely make things easy for you.
Procreate is only available on IOS and can be downloaded here. It is pretty affordable at $8.99. But, you do need an iPad/iPhone with it and although it is optional, an Apple Pencil can really improve your workflow.
Should I Learn to Draw on Paper or Tablet?
Drawing is a valuable skill and the best thing is that anyone can improve at it. All it takes is practice. But, even when you have decided to learn drawing it can be confusing to start. You have two main mediums – traditional drawing and digital drawing
It is better to start drawing traditionally when you first start out. Drawing with pencil and paper will give you a better idea of some basic concepts like lighting, perspective, and tone. Since most beginners start with sketching – you should do so too.
Sketching gives you the necessary skills to start drawing from your environment. As a beginner, it can be difficult to draw with your imagination so having a reference is always a good idea.
You can check out the article, Fundamentals of Art from The Virtual Instructor to start learning the basics. I’d also suggest you explore some subreddits and ask people questions whenever you feel stuck. Some good subreddits to start are:
If you want to learn more in detail about digital vs traditional art, you can check out my article on the differences betwen starting to draw traditionally or digitally This will give you a better idea of where and how to start.
What You Need to Start Digital Art
After reading through the majority of this post you might have decided to start digital art. Great! This is going to be an exciting journey for your career and passion. However, there are some things you may need to get started.
The first and most important thing you need is a decent computer or laptop. This is obvious as you need a digital screen to draw digitally. If you already have a computer you can start with that.
As a beginner, you would have to first experiment with different techniques so buying a high-end computer when you don’t know how to draw might not be a worthwhile investment.
It might surprise you but you can also do digital art by connecting a drawing tablet to your phone. There are some obvious disadvantages to this like the small screen and slow RAM but it can help you practice your drawing.
Another option you have is to get an iPad. In the digital art industry, an iPad is considered a professional-level tablet that enables digital artists to make amazing art pieces. You can buy the iPad Air at a discount from Amazon or if you want a bigger screen you can get the industry-standard 12.9” iPad Pro.
As a beginner, focus on what you can get for your budget. But remember a powerful computer is always better than a smartphone or low-end laptop.
A drawing tablet is necessary for digital art. When first starting out you shouldn’t worry too much about which drawing tablet you use. As long as it is durable and responsive it would get the job done.
There are many factors to consider when buying a drawing tablet. You can check out our buying guide for buying your first drawing tablet.
As a beginner, you have a lot of budget options available but it’s best to stick to the top leading brands such as Wacom and Huion. The best drawing tablets for beginners are the Wacom Intuos and Huion H610 and even some professionals use them to this day.
Finally, to get started in digital art you need a program to start drawing on. There are many free and paid drawing programs you can get started with. If you don’t know how to draw it might not be a good idea to spend a lot of money on expensive drawing software.
The main difference between free and paid software is the number of features they offer. Professional drawing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator can help you create amazing digital art. Whereas, free software offers only basic features which is useful to start and practice your drawing.
Some great drawing software you can start with are:
- Photoshop CC (Windows/macOS) – free trial for 7 days and then $20.99/mo
- Clip Studio Paint (Windows/macOS) – free trial for 30 days and then $49.99 one-time or $4.49/mo
- Krita (Windows/macOS) – Free
- Procreate (IOS Only) – $8.99 one-time
Once you have everything you need you can start learning digital art. A good resource to start with is this YouTube video by Brad Colbow:
Conclusion: Can You Learn Digital Art If You Can’t Draw?
It is possible to start creating digital art even if you can’t draw. However, you won’t go very far without any basic drawing skills. Modern drawing software such as Photoshop gives you tools to draw digitally and also use shapes to draw symmetrically even if you don’t know how to draw. But, without knowing the basic fundamentals of art you won’t be able to grasp valuable concepts to create good digital art consistently.
If you decide to take the path of being a digital artist you would need to know how to draw. The good thing is that anyone can improve their drawing with the right tools and enough practice.
Ibrahim Ahmed is the founder and CEO of Mediacaterer – an Art & Design blog covering the latest news, tips, guides, and product reviews for beginners, intermediates, and professionals. He’s a self-taught graphic designer and writer hoping to help aspiring artists and designers make it big in the industry