Recommended tools for digital art & paintings
I like digital art and paintings. I want to create my own.
Which software/tools do I need to accomplish this?
Three popular digital art applications used by both amateurs and professionals alike, in order of price (low to high):
- ArtRage - I've never used it, but I've heard good things about it from people who are exclusively interested in simulating painting and drawing digitally. Price: $30-$60
- Sketchbook Pro by Autodesk - This is slick and does a great job of balancing simulating traditional tools well, having a clean friendly interface, and lots of advanced options for when you start to master it. Price: around $60 I believe.
- Photoshop elements - Has most of the digital art tools of Photoshop with a beginner-friendly interface. It's surprsingly good, almost everything it lacks compared to full Photoshop is to do with productivity and the speed and efficiency of your work, so it's good for someone doing it for fun or starting out. It's less pitched at people wanting the look and feel of traditional tools: people with a love for traditional tools may find the other options more intuitive and friendly (though personally, I like that it's not pretending to be something it's not and places less of a layer of overbearing metaphors between me and my ideal digital brush settings). Price: around $100
And of course Photoshop you clearly already know about. As others have said, get a good graphics tablet early and get used to it early, and a Wacom Bamboo tablet is pretty much perfect for beginners in price and quality.
Also, since practicing often is key, consider mobile devices:
- The Samsung Galaxy Note is a giant Android phone with a pressure sensitive Wacom pen digitizer built into its screen. It's got digital art features that are close to comparable with a regular computer with a graphics tablet and the above software, at about the size of a Moleskin pocket notebook. (and it can make phone calls!). App recommendations:
- LayerPaint is my personal recommendation - great all round full featured drawing app that can export proper photoshop files if needed. It's the only one that lets you calibrate the pen so the pointer lines up with the pen tip at whatever angle you naturally hold the pen.
- Infinite Painter and Infinite Design make a nice combo: Painter simulates painting, with fun features for blending colours like you might on a real canvas, Design is a vector drawing app with some Illustrator-like features - because each shape it makes can be adjusted into shape, it's great for getting the composition of a drawing or painting right, then exporting to a different app to use as a guide.
- Sketchbook Mobile (Autodesk again) is very similar to Sketchbook Pro (you have to turn pressure sensitivity on in a hidden options menu).
- Zen Brush offers less advanced features but also works really nicely with the pressure sensitivity and is good for no-fuss simple sketches.
- A lot of people rate iPads for convenient digital art practice. I've never really understood this but I can't argue with its popularity. If you already own one, the quality of the touchscreen makes it worth trying it out, but I wouldn't buy one specifically to do this (my personal view is that with no pressure sensitivity it's basically digital finger-painting, and since it doesn't fit in your pocket anyway, you can get Windows 8 Pro slate PCs that run full Photoshop with built in wacom digitizers that are only a little less portable). Tip: Get a stylus so you can more clearly see what you're doing - but don't spend too much on it (iPad styluses are essentially plastic finger-shaped sticks with extra marketing, even/especially the wacom ones...). I know that Autodesk have a version of Sketchbook for iPad that is well rated, I don't know about other apps but I know there are plenty to try.