Digital painting is the process of painting on a tablet and creating artwork digitally on a computer. This is done through painting software that uses brushes much like traditional painting.
Many artists turn to digital painting since it’s cheaper in the long run(fewer materials) and it’s a necessity in the world of animation, illustration, and 2D game art.
Plus it’s a lot easier to get into digital painting now since computers are so much faster and more powerful. That means they can handle very fast brush strokes, more accurate pressure sensitivity, and larger files without any lag time.
And with modern painting software you can use digital layers for your work to save time.
That’s not so easy to achieve with traditional mediums.
The idea of layers is that you paint(or draw) on different imaginary layers that all stack together to create the final piece. So if you want to change something just delete that layer and try again.
At its core the idea of digital painting is pretty simple: you paint, digitally!
But how you paint and what you paint can vary wildly.
Some artists focus more on illustration work and developing their own style. Others who work in the entertainment industry create digital production art like concept art or animation-focused work like vis dev art.
There’s no right or wrong way to paint digitally. Everything from web comics to character design and fun little illustration pieces, everything can be painted digitally given the right skillset.
If you’ve already practiced art for a while then you only need 2 things to get into digital painting:
- A drawing tablet
- Painting software
A digital drawing tablet is basically the only art supply that a digital painter needs.
This tablet connects to the computer and lets you draw on the surface with a special stylus pen, so every line you make gets recorded onto the computer in real time.
We recently published a huge buyer’s guide on drawing tablets with a ton of information about specs, handling, and brands. Wacom is the most popular but there are many tablet manufacturers to look through.
When it comes to art software there’s also plenty of variety. Many digital artists prefer Photoshop since that’s the industry staple. But there are free alternatives like Krita which totally rocks for digital painting.
For a full list of programs take a peek at our choices for the best digital painting software for all artists. Some of these programs are totally free, others cost quite a bit. And there are budget options too so there’s a digital painting program for everyone.
But once you’ve got some software and a drawing tablet you’re good to go!