Beginners Guide – Softwares and programs for digital painting

Maureen  

The goal of this guide is to help beginners to navigate the wide ocean that is the art of digital! What we will address in this article:

  • Hardware for digital artists
  • Digital art programs and software
  • Fundamentals
  • Work Flows
  • Transition from traditional to digital
  • Resources for beginners
  • Hardware for digital artists

We suggest that you invest in a scanning table. You don’t have to do a great investment, you can do wonders with just a basic tablet. We recommend intermediate level tablets like Bamboo Capture for you to start your journey.

If you really want to buy a Cintiq, go ahead. There are many decent competitors in the graphics display space, take your tests. If you choose a tablet , keep it always connected. The USB connectors are very sensitive and easy to break.

We also recommend tablets with pen (Surface) or iPad (Ipad Pro is great)

Digital art programs and software

There are some competitors for the title of best digital art software for beginners, all options have a learning curve. Once you learn one, the others are similar enough that it is not difficult to switch to another. You just need to learn what layers are, what effects you can do with them and learn words like opacity and flow.

If you want to start without investment, we suggest Krita, which is a free software with several options.

  • Adobe Photoshop – Recommended for those who want to work in companies. It is now offered in a subscription model, but you can get CS6 or CS5 forever for a high initial cost. Pros: Often considered the industry standard, it has many brushes, textures and features to use – as the community is huge. We have here in the company the latest version of the perpetual software license.
  • Affinity Photo / Designer – Great programs, although quite new. Both are much cheaper than the Adobe offer. The Designer can use brushes to scan / vector, although the AP can be a bit more similar to painting for PS, if you are used to it. You can try free tests for both and decide then.
  • Krita – a good example of free and open source software. Great community, brushes, textures, user interface, price! More painting oriented than alternatives like GIMP.
  • MyPaint – has an infinite canvas (raster) and a very well done brush mechanism. Free and open source. May require some technical knowledge to install on MacOS (use MacPorts).
  • ArtRage – known for its natural / traditional looking brush mechanism;
  • GIMP – free and open source somewhat problematic, but now much better, comparable to PS, but with a more complicated user interface. Although you can modify it to look like PS.
  • FireAlpaca and MediBang Paint, which are free software for digital painting and manga creation that are close to the Paint Tool SAI.

As for drawing programs, there are options such as Autodesk’s Sketchbook (Software most used in the drawing market today), Mischief and others.

For now, I think it might be easier to start by learning one of the above items first.

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