Step-by-Step Guide: Create Impressive Digital Art for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


1. Choosing the Right Tools for Digital Art

2. Developing Basic Skills for Digital Art

3. Exploring Different Digital Art Styles

4. Creating Your First Digital Artwork

5. Improving and Sharing Your Digital Art

Are you ready to dive into the world of digital art but not sure where to start? Don't worry! This step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know on how to make digital art, even if you're an absolute beginner. We'll cover essential tools, basic skills, different styles, and share tips on creating and sharing your artwork. Let's begin!

1. Choosing the Right Tools for Digital Art

Before you can start creating digital art, you'll need the right tools. In this section, we'll discuss the necessary hardware, software, and some useful accessories to get you started on your digital art journey.

a. Hardware Essentials

First things first, you'll need a computer to run your digital art software. A laptop or desktop with at least 8GB of RAM and a decent processor (like an Intel i5 or higher) should be sufficient for most digital art programs.

Next, consider investing in a graphics tablet. These devices allow you to draw directly on a touch-sensitive surface, making it much easier to create natural, fluid lines. While it's possible to make digital art with a mouse, using a tablet will give you more control and precision. Popular tablet brands include Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen. Remember, you don't need the most expensive tablet—start with something affordable and upgrade as your skills improve.

b. Software Options

There's a wide variety of software available for digital art, so it's essential to find a program that best suits your needs. Here are some popular options:

  • Adobe Photoshop – A powerful, versatile program that's great for both photo editing and digital painting.
  • Clip Studio Paint – A popular choice among comic artists and illustrators, with excellent brush customization options.
  • Procreate – An iPad-exclusive app that's user-friendly and perfect for artists on the go.
  • Krita – A free, open-source software with a range of features for digital painting.

Don't be afraid to try out different software options—many offer free trials or have free versions with limited features.

c. Useful Accessories

While not strictly necessary, some accessories can make your digital art experience more enjoyable:

  • Drawing glove – A glove that covers your pinky and ring finger can help reduce friction between your hand and the tablet surface, making it easier to draw smooth lines.
  • Adjustable tablet stand – A stand allows you to position your tablet at a comfortable angle, reducing strain on your wrist and neck.
  • Extra pen nibs – Tablet pen nibs can wear down over time, so it's a good idea to have some replacements on hand.

Now that you've gathered your tools, let's move on to developing the basic skills you need to make digital art.

2. Developing Basic Skills for Digital Art

Alright, you've got your tools ready, so let's dive into the essential skills you'll need to know when learning how to make digital art. We'll go over drawing techniques, color theory, and composition principles that will help you build a strong foundation for your digital art journey.

a. Drawing Techniques

Let's start by focusing on the basics of drawing. Developing good drawing habits will make it easier for you to create digital art that looks polished and professional. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Start with simple shapes—break down complex objects into basic geometric forms like circles, squares, and triangles.
  • Practice line control by drawing straight lines, curves, and circles with a steady hand. This will help you create clean, confident lines in your digital art.
  • Get comfortable with shading and texture techniques. Experiment with different brushes and brush settings to find what works best for you.
  • Draw from real-life references whenever possible—it's a great way to improve your observational skills and learn about proportions, perspective, and anatomy.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out as you'd hoped. Keep at it, and you'll see improvement over time!

b. Color Theory

Next up is color theory, which plays a vital role in making your digital art visually appealing. To get started, familiarize yourself with the following concepts:

  • Hue refers to the pure color itself, like red, blue, or green.
  • Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Using a range of values can help create depth and contrast in your art.
  • Chroma (or saturation) is the intensity of a color. A highly saturated color appears vibrant, while a desaturated color appears duller.
  • Understand how to use color harmony by learning about complementary, analogous, and triadic color schemes. These combinations can help create balance and cohesion in your artwork.

Experimenting with different colors and color schemes can help you find your unique style and make your digital art stand out. Don't be afraid to play around and see what works for you!

c. Composition Principles

Finally, let's talk about composition. Composition is the arrangement of elements in your artwork, and it's crucial for creating a visually engaging piece. Here are some tips to help you improve your compositions:

  • Use the rule of thirds to guide the placement of focal points in your artwork. Imagine your canvas divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines. Placing your subject or focal point along these lines or at their intersections can create a more dynamic composition.
  • Consider balance and contrast when arranging elements in your artwork. Balancing color, value, and size can help create harmony and guide the viewer's eye through the piece.
  • Experiment with leading lines and shapes to direct the viewer's attention to specific parts of your artwork.

By keeping these composition principles in mind, you'll be well on your way to creating impressive digital art that captures the viewer's interest!

Now that you've got a grasp on the essential skills, let's explore some different digital art styles to find the one that suits you best.

3. Exploring Different Digital Art Styles

Armed with your newfound skills, it's time to explore various digital art styles. Finding a style that resonates with you can make your journey into digital art even more enjoyable. In this section, we'll discuss three popular styles: vector art, pixel art, and digital painting. Understanding these styles will help you decide which path to take when learning how to make digital art that truly captures your unique creative vision.

a. Vector Art

Vector art is a type of digital art that uses mathematical equations to create clean, sharp lines and shapes. This style is ideal for creating logos, icons, and illustrations that need to be resized without losing quality. Some key features of vector art include:

  • Scalability: Since vector art is not pixel-based, you can resize your artwork without any loss of quality or clarity.
  • Smooth lines and curves: Vector art creates crisp, clean lines and curves that look great at any size.
  • Flat colors: This style often features solid colors with little to no shading or texture, which can result in a modern, minimalist look.

Popular software for creating vector art includes Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape. If you're drawn to clean lines and bold colors, vector art might be the perfect fit for you!

b. Pixel Art

Pixel art is a nostalgic and charming style that harkens back to the early days of video games and computer graphics. As its name suggests, pixel art consists of tiny, individual pixels arranged to form an image. This style can be both fun and challenging to master. Some key aspects of pixel art include:

  • Grid-based layout: Pixel art requires working on a grid, carefully placing each pixel to create your desired image.
  • Color limitations: Due to its retro roots, pixel art often features a limited color palette, which can help you develop a keen eye for color harmony and contrast.
  • Attention to detail: Creating pixel art requires patience and precision, as each pixel contributes to the overall look of your artwork.

Software like Aseprite and Pyxel Edit are popular choices for creating pixel art. If you enjoy working with fine details and have a soft spot for retro aesthetics, give pixel art a try!

c. Digital Painting

Digital painting is a versatile style that emulates traditional painting techniques using digital tools. This style allows for a wide range of artistic expression, from realistic to stylized. Digital painting can help you create stunning artwork while enjoying the convenience and flexibility of digital tools. Some key aspects of digital painting include:

  • Brush variety: Digital painting software offers a wide array of brushes that mimic traditional media, such as oil, watercolor, and pastel.
  • Layering: Working with layers allows you to build up your painting gradually, making it easier to edit and refine your artwork.
  • Realism or stylization: Digital painting gives you the freedom to create art that is either true to life or entirely imaginative.

Programs like Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and Krita are popular choices for digital painting. If you're drawn to the look and feel of traditional painting but want the convenience of digital tools, digital painting is an excellent choice.

Now that you have a better understanding of these different styles, it's time to start creating your first digital artwork. Let's dive into the process of how to make digital art, step by step!

4. Creating Your First Digital Artwork

Now that you've explored different digital art styles, it's time to dive into creating your own masterpiece! Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make digital art, from sketching and planning to coloring and shading. Remember, practice makes perfect, and every artist's journey is unique—so enjoy the process and embrace your creativity.

a. Sketching and Planning

Before you start your digital artwork, it's essential to have a clear idea of what you want to create. Sketching and planning can help you visualize your concept and serve as a blueprint for your final piece. Here's how to get started:

  • Brainstorm: Take some time to think about your subject matter, style, and overall theme. You can jot down ideas or create rough thumbnail sketches to help bring your ideas to life.
  • Create a rough sketch: Using your chosen digital art software, start sketching out your idea. Don't worry about making it perfect—this is just a rough draft to help you get a feel for your composition and design.
  • Refine your sketch: Once you're satisfied with your rough sketch, you can start refining it by adding more details, adjusting the proportions, and tweaking the composition. This is where your basic drawing skills come in handy!

Remember, your sketch doesn't have to be perfect. It's just a starting point to help you visualize your artwork and guide you through the next steps.

b. Inking and Refining

Now that you have a solid sketch, it's time to add some clean lines and refine your artwork. This process is often referred to as "inking" in the digital art world. Here's how to do it:

  • Create a new layer: In your digital art software, create a new layer above your sketch. This will allow you to draw clean lines without affecting your original sketch.
  • Choose the right brush: Select a brush that suits your style and the type of art you're creating. For example, you might choose a smooth, solid brush for vector art, or a textured brush for digital painting.
  • Trace your sketch: Using the new layer, carefully trace over your sketch to create clean, defined lines. Take your time and don't be afraid to undo and redo lines as needed. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Once you've inked your artwork, you can hide or delete your original sketch layer, leaving you with a clean, polished piece ready for coloring.

c. Coloring and Shading

The final step in learning how to make digital art is adding color and shading to your piece. This process can be both fun and challenging, as it brings your artwork to life and adds depth and dimension. Here's how to get started:

  • Select your colors: Based on your chosen style and theme, pick a color palette that complements your artwork. Remember to consider color theory and the emotions different colors can convey.
  • Create a new layer for coloring: Just like with inking, create a new layer below your line art. This will allow you to add color without affecting your clean lines.
  • Fill in your base colors: Using the new layer, carefully fill in the base colors of your artwork. You can use the software's selection tools or paint bucket tool to make this process quicker and more precise.
  • Add shading and highlights: To add depth and dimension to your artwork, create another layer above your base colors and start adding shadows and highlights. Consider your light source and how it affects the appearance of your subject. This is where your knowledge of color theory and composition comes in handy!

With your colors and shading complete, your digital artwork is now finished! But remember, the learning process doesn't end here. Keep practicing, experimenting, and refining your skills to continue growing as a digital artist.

5. Improving and Sharing Your Digital Art

Creating your first piece of digital art is a major accomplishment, but the journey doesn't stop there! To truly master how to make digital art, you'll need to keep improving your skills and sharing your work with others. Here are some tips and resources to help you grow as a digital artist and build an online presence.

a. Practice Tips

As with any skill, practice is key to improving your digital art abilities. But how do you make the most of your practice time? Here are some ideas:

  • Set goals: Having specific goals in mind can help you stay focused and motivated. Whether you want to improve your line work, master a new art style, or create a full series of artworks, setting goals can keep you moving forward.
  • Experiment: Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new techniques, styles, or tools. This can help you discover your unique artistic voice and uncover new ways of making digital art.
  • Seek feedback: Sharing your work with others and asking for constructive criticism can be incredibly valuable. It can help you identify areas for improvement and gain new perspectives on your art.

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your digital art skills. Give yourself time and be patient as you progress on your artistic journey.

b. Online Resources

There are countless resources available online that can help you learn how to make digital art and refine your skills. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Tutorials: Many artists share tutorials on platforms like YouTube, covering everything from basic techniques to advanced tips. Watching and following along with these tutorials can help you learn new skills and improve your digital art abilities.
  • Art communities: Online forums, such as DeviantArt and ArtStation, allow artists to share their work, ask questions, and receive feedback from others. Joining these communities can provide you with valuable insights and connections to fellow artists.
  • Classes and workshops: If you're looking for more structured learning opportunities, consider taking online classes or workshops. Websites like Skillshare and Udemy offer a wide range of courses on digital art, taught by experienced artists and professionals.

Don't be afraid to explore and try different resources to find the ones that work best for you and your learning style.

c. Building an Online Presence

Sharing your digital art online can help you connect with other artists, receive feedback, and even open doors to new opportunities. Here's how you can build an online presence:

  • Create a portfolio: Having a dedicated website to showcase your work is essential. You can use platforms like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress to create a professional-looking portfolio that highlights your best pieces.
  • Be active on social media: Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are great places to share your art, connect with others, and stay up-to-date on industry news. Make sure to post regularly, engage with your audience, and use relevant hashtags to increase your reach.
  • Network with other artists: Building relationships with fellow artists can lead to collaborations, learning opportunities, and even job referrals. Attend online events, join art groups, and engage with others in your niche to expand your network.

Remember, building an online presence takes time and effort, but the rewards can be well worth it. Keep sharing your work, engaging with the community, and learning how to make digital art even better, and you'll be well on your way to success!

If you're a beginner looking to create impressive digital art and explore the world of NFTs, don't miss the workshop 'NFT Deep Dive and Make Your First NFT' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will not only help you improve your digital art skills but also guide you through the process of creating and selling your first NFT, opening up a new world of opportunities for your art.