5 Tips For Beginning Digital Artists

5 Tips For Beginning Digital Artists

No matter your skill level when it comes to art, switching to a digital medium is no easy task.

No matter your skill level when it comes to art, switching to a digital medium is no easy task. There seems to be a common misconception that digital art is cheating or easier than traditional art methods. While there are features that make creating art easier, (using layers, opacity, unlimited color options, erasing, etc.) it still falls on the artist to put effort into their creation. You aren't having a computer create your piece; you still have to draw it.

1. Use layers

One of the first things you should learn how to do in your art program is how to create new layers, and how to use them. It can be incredibly beneficial to break down your piece into different parts and separate the parts. When you have to make changes to a specific part, it'll be set aside from the rest of your work, making it easier to edit.

2. Invest in a tablet

If you start out using a mouse to draw, you'll start to compare yourself to other artists. There are some things that impossible for you to do with a mouse, such as pen pressure sensitivity. It'll make your journey in learning how to draw digitally a lot smoother if you get a tablet as soon as possible. I personally don't recommend investing in the most expensive tablet right on the get go. It's possible to find cheap starter tablets that are under $100! Just make sure to get one that has positive reviews. Once you're more comfortable with the transition to drawing with a tablet, it won't be as daunting to invest in a more expensive tablet.

3. Try a variety of programs

A lot of people seem to think that photoshop is the only program to draw with. PaintTool Sai is also a popular drawing program, but it isn't free (legally). While having knowledge of photoshop is great for a career, if you're drawing for fun, it's not necessary to drop money on it. There are lots of other art programs available online for cheaper, or for free, that are simplified/more streamlined for artists. Start out using free use programs as you learn, such as GIMP or Fire Alpaca, to avoid sinking more money.

4. Save multiple files

As you get used to drawing, be aware of how you're saving your files. Having an organized naming system and folders is great, although most artists have a hard time keeping up with it. If anything, I recommend making sure you know what types of files you're saving your pieces as. Make sure to save unfinished pieces as a .psd/.sai/.mdp (usually whatever the default is in whatever program you're in) so you can go back and edit. This way, the layer information will be saved, and you can pick up where you left off. If you're unsure if you want to go back to a piece, it doesn't hurt to save multiple versions, either.

5. Don't quit!

When I first started digital art, I had a preconceived expectation that it would make me a better artist. I was discouraged when I realized it was going to take me a while to adjust to drawing with a tablet. Drawing digitally versus traditionally doesn't automatically change your skill. It's simply another method that you can use as an artist. You'll grow as an artist from trying any new medium, but it takes persistent practice! Even if it seems difficult, the more you try, the more you'll learn!

Below, I'll attach a few images showcasing my progress as a digital artist over the years. I didn't catalog my art over the first few years, but the first few images are from 2011, 2012, and 2013. The last image is from the current year, 2017.

Cover Image Credit: Jennifer Morrow

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Why I Listen to Depressing Music Even Though I'm Depressed

Music that's powerful, music that speaks to me, music that means something.

It took me a long time to find my preferred genre of music. In middle school, I remember listening to pop songs that I often heard on the radio. I could (and still can) rap the entirety of Super Bass by Nicki Minaj and I dreamt about my crush professing his love to me by serenading me with Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes. 

By my freshman year of high school, those songs were no longer cool, so I went along with the crowd and started listening to the next most popular type of music: trap music. In my experience, these artists talked solely about fucking bitches and smoking ganja, even though, at that point in my life, I had no intent of having intercourse or "doing" the marijuana (boy was I naive). Though I listened to these genres to appease everyone else, I never felt completed like so many people claimed to feel when they listened to music. I did not have a passion for any bands or artists and I did not feel any sort of deep connection while I was listening.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I decided to explore certain genres that I hadn’t yet explored. The first bands I really grew to love were the Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, and The Kooks. Their music not only sounded great, but the lyrics actually meant something. They spoke about relationships, internal struggles, mental issues, and societal problems. Their lyrics resonated with me, and, surprisingly, the most depressing of their material resonated the most.

I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, though I was not diagnosed until a little over a year ago. I’ve been on meds and have learned coping techniques, but the most counterintuitive of those techniques is listening to these depressing songs.

One of the hardest struggles I have with depression is not being able to tell people how I am feeling, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t have the words. I find that listening to others put into words the exact emotions that I have not been able to convey myself is quite reassuring.  These songs help me better understand my own emotions and give me an idea of how to turn those emotions into spoken language. 

When Alex Turner says “you can shriek until you’re hollow or whisper it the other way” or when AJJ says "everything is real, but it's also just as fake” I feel as if someone has entered my thoughts and put into lyrics the fears and feelings I struggle with on a daily basis. These songs make me feel as if there is a whole community of people out there who experience the same, seemingly-lonely experiences that I do. I feel more connected to the world when I listen to this type of music. I feel understood.

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Two Inspiring Movies Everyone Should See

Movies that take you on an emotional roller coaster.

I have always loved watching movies, especially ones with inspiring and emotional storylines. I get very invested and intrigued (maybe a little too much), but I love having that whirlwind of emotions throughout the entire movie.

Recently, I got the opportunity to see two amazing movies that I think are very important and had a huge effect on me. The films were “Lady Bird” and “Call Me by Your Name”. Both of these films came out in 2017 so they are fairly new. They are making a huge impact and receiving a lot of deserved recognition.

“Lady Bird” has such a special storyline. It follows the relationship between a mother and daughter in such a realistic way. As many girls know, a relationship with a mother is not always an easy one and the film really captures that frustration.

It follows the life of a young girl that is about to leave to go to college. So many things change for girls during this time and there are so many emotional challenges and obstacles. I absolutely love how this film displays this situation and many relationships in a very graphic and honest way. I think it is so important for young girls to watch this film and channel all those feelings. It is incredibly relatable and it reminds girls to be courageous.

“Call Me by Your Name” is seriously one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It is a love story, which we have seen is countless movies, but this film displays a relationship in such a unique and beautiful way.

The best thing about this movie is that it is awkward at some points and maybe even a little uncomfortable. I admire this because love and relationships aren’t always magical and perfect. It expresses a type of love that is so unapologetic and pure. I could watch it over and over and still have the same inspiring feeling at the end. If you are a fan of emotional love stories or small independent films watch this movie. You will not regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Connor Limbocker

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