A Beginner's Guide to Becoming a Digital Artist
Updated: Jul 7
An increasing number of artists are shifting their work from offline to online spheres, from canvas to iPad, from paintbrush to stylus pen. Why is that? Digital art is becoming more popular by the day, especially knowing you can sell them for quite some profit as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on marketplaces like Opensea, Crypto.com, and Nifty Gateway. In this guide, we provide you with all the tools, tips, and tricks to become a future-proof digital artist and sell your art online.
What is digital art?
Digital art is often divided into two types: "object-oriented" pieces and "process-oriented" ones. The first type refers to the technological tools that are used to create an artwork, for example, a 3D printer used to create a sculpture. The second type focuses on the idea that the artwork itself is technology. The phrase "new media" is often used to specify this type of art, which includes all digitally generated, stored, and distributed works of art. As a result, while some works make use of digital tools to enhance an already-existing medium, others use digital technology as an integral part of the creation of the artwork. The currently most popular type of digital art that is sold on NFT marketplaces are digitally-made paintings, drawings, and sketches in the form of a multi-piece collection of so-called NFT profile picture collectibles. Think of the Bored Apes Yacht Club collection or Crypto Punks.
Besides these immensely popular digital collectibles, there is also an increasing number of artists who turned their physical artworks, such as oil paintings or stone sculptures into digital assets to sell as NFTs. As a future digital artist, it's important to know a few basics in order to make a proper digital artwork.
Starting off as a digital artist
As with any other piece of art, digital artwork begins with an idea and a rough sketch. From there, you continue to work towards your eventual masterpiece by filling out the gaps in your sketch. Digital art tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Procreate are three of the most often used applications among digital artists. These apps allow you to have a lot of freedom and control over your work, providing a massive collection of integrated tools, brushes, and effects to perfect even the smallest detail in your work.
The device you're working on is the biggest decider in what software you use and what tools you need in order to achieve high-quality artwork. There are a lot of starting digital artists who create their art on their iPad, using a stylus pen to draw directly on the screen. Other, usually more experienced artists, choose a specific drawing tablet that allows them to either draw directly on a screen or plug the tablet into their computer and directly visualize their movements on the tablet onto the screen. Of course, you can also choose to use your tracking pad or mouse for creating a digital art piece, but that usually adds an extra layer of difficulty. In the end, it all depends on what you feel comfortable working with.
Let's dive a bit deeper into the tools available for digital artists, and how you can find the right one for you based on your art style, device, and preferred way of working. A drawing tablet is a must-have for every digital artist. Sketching directly on a screen or on an external drawing pad provides a more realistic and tactile experience than sketching with your mouse. There are many different types and brands of drawing tables. Think of brands like Apple (iPad) or Wacom, which is a brand specialized in creating tablets for digital artists. The wide variety of tablets can make it difficult to figure out which one suits you best. As a multitasker and beginning artist, you might want to opt for an iPad. If you prefer a product that's designed and developed specifically for drawing, you should look into Wacom's products.
When first starting off, it's a good idea to try out different tablets before making a decision. When choosing a drawing pad, it's important to keep its size in mind. Larger tablets provide greater workspace, but they are also more expensive and take up more space on your desk. Usually, these types of tablets have additional features like pressure sensitivity and configurable buttons. Before you invest in your tablet, make sure to read up on all of the features that each model has to offer.
Once you got the tablet you like, you'll also need to consider a specific software or application to work with. This app is where you'll create and modify all your digital art. There is a wide variety of applications and programs available, with each their own pros and cons. Think of software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, ProCreate, and much more. Just like the tablet you picked, you'll have to dive into the specific features of each program to find out which one fits you best. Are you up to invest a significant amount of money in your program, or do you prefer a free-to-use tool? Is your digital art focused on (photo) editing, or are you more of a free-hand sketcher?
Here are some of the most important factors to consider while selecting the best software for your digital art:
Device: The software should be compatible with your device (mobile, tablet, PC, etc.)
Operating System: The software should be compatible with your device's operating system (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.).
Performance: The software should have all the features you need to create your artwork.
Price: The software should match your budget.
Difficulty: The software should fit your level of expertise as a beginning or more experienced digital artist.
A lot of these programs offer free trials you can sign up for before investing in a piece of software that actually doesn't fit your needs. Go look around, check some reviews, and try out a few different apps before you make your decision.
Consider a scanner
If you want to turn your existing physical artworks into digital artworks and you don't have access to a proper scanner, you might want to consider investing in one. The quality you achieve when scanning an artwork is generally higher than making a picture of it. There are a lot of different types of scanners on the market, ranging from desktop scanners to portable scanners. They exist in a variety of sizes and designs, ranging from small portable devices for personal use to massive units for mass production. If you want to scan high-quality images, you should look for a scanner with a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) and 48-bit color depth.
When choosing a scanner for your artworks, there are a few things you should look for:
Resolution: The resolution of your scans needs to be high enough to avoid your artwork getting pixelated or blurry in the process of scanning
Connection: Do you need your scanner to be wireless and connected via Bluetooth or wifi, or would you be okay with a USB cable?
Compatibility: Not all scanners fit all types of devices and software. Make sure you can actually connect your scanner to your PC before you buy one.
Dimensions: Scanners come in all sizes, from massive units to tiny portable ones. Make sure to pick one that fits in your home or studio.
Speed: Different scanners provide different speeds, which matters if you have to scan a lot of artworks in one go.
Price tag: The price of your scanner varies widely, and is mostly based on all the factors described in the bullet points above.
Let's get started
Now you got your tools and software ready, you can start creating your digital artworks, and perhaps later sell them as NFTs on one of the available NFT marketplaces. Not sure where to start? Grypto is here to teach you more about NFTs and becoming a digital asset vendor. Besides functioning as an educational platform, we help artists with the process of digitizing and marketing their artworks on NFT marketplaces. Together with the artist, we create, grow and manage an online community to raise awareness and with that the value of their art.
Are you interested in teaming up with Grypto to turn your artworks into valuable and future-proof digital assets/NFTs? Get in touch with us via the contact form on our site, or send us a message on our social channels.