Digital art supplies. Getting started with digital art, specifically Adobe Photoshop & Wacom tablet.
Digital Art Supplies
|WARNING! WARNING! OUTDATED INFO ON THIS PAGE! (And it's getting more outdated every day!) I haven't got the strength right now to update it. I'll adjust a few things but leave it alone until later. Please forgive me.|
Digital art has become so mainstream that many young artists have never used anything else! (And I'm not so sure I think that's a good thing.) But if you're new to digital, then read on!
Here's an example of one of my digital portraits. I created this portrait with Photoshop, when I knew very little about the program. I don't mention this to toot my own hornI only want to explain how such a portrait can easily be created with a digital tablet, (more on that later) some drawing ability, and a minimal understanding of Photoshop.
Don't assume that because you are not a computer or Photoshop guru, that digital art is not for you! Of course, you will learn more about Photoshop as you go along, but you can still create fun stuff as you are learning!
I recommend Adobe Photoshop. If you cannot afford Photoshop, get Photoshop Elements. I freely admit, I am a "Photoshop enthusiast." Photoshop is the "industry standard." It is almost universally accepted at schools, studios, agencies, etc. Understanding how to use Photoshop is a "marketable skill."
Since Photoshop is so popular, Photoshop Elements is an automatic second choice. Elements is priced within most budgets, and packs quite a punch as well. Either of these software programs will suit you well.
There is an incredible amount of support for Photoshop in the digital art community. Plenty of books, online tutorials, organizations, instructional videos, and much more are available for Photoshop users. If you choose Photoshop, you are in good company!
Paint Shop Pro:
This is also a very popular software package, and it also has a fair amount of support and enthusiasts. (But nowhere near the support as Photoshop, and it is not considered an "industry standard.") One strike against it is that it is only available for Windows, not Macintosh. A lot of artsy or educational types use Macs, so this is a real drawback in my opinion. However, if you are using a PC, have no intention of going "pro" with your digital art skills, give Paint Shop Pro a try!
This is a phenomenal program, and each version gets better and better. It simulates an artists' paint techniques beautifully. A powerful computer is recommended, though. If you already have Photoshop and yearn for something more, try out Painter!
run Photoshop CS5, you have to have relatively up-to-date computer.
System requirements are:
While the latest and greatest version of Photoshop is exciting to have, you can still do just fine with a much older version if that is all you can afford (or all that your computer can run.) "Older" versions of Photoshop are more than adequate for creating digital portrait art. In fact, the digital artwork I show above was created in Photoshop 5.5. I've also enjoyed using Photoshop 4, and have noticed is has plenty of powerful features, even though it is a rather "elderly" version of Photoshop.
So, if you can't afford the latest version of Photoshop (or your computer won't run it) don't feel bad. Older versions of Photoshop can still have a lot to offer. ( A good place to find older versions of Photoshop is on eBay! )
As you can already tell, I am a big fan of digital tablets. When I first got into digital art, I didn't know that there was this thing called a "digital tablet," which will allow you do draw into your computer! I was thrilled and amazed when I discovered how much fun it is to draw with a digital tablet. This tablet connects to your computer's USB port (for both Mac & PC), and can replace your regular computer mouse.
You almost HAVE to have one of these to create digital art. With a digital tablet, you literally "draw" with a stylus, and it shows up on your computer screen! It's much easier to use, compared to a regular old mouse!
The latest incarnation from Wacom is the Bamboo Touch Fun Tablet, and it's priced within most budgets (approx. $100 or less). Of course, a bigger tablet is always nicer, and Wacom has some really fancy (and more expensive) tablets if you have the hankering (and budget) for them.
The Wacom tablet is a good choice for most artists. It even comes bundled with a "lite" version of Photsohop (Photoshop Elements for Mac and PC). This "lite" versions of Photoshop will get you started in digital art. Try it out!
Well, that question opens a huge can 'o' worms, doesn't it? The short answer is: whatever computer you are already using, or prefer using.
However, when it comes to digital art, I must say that I prefer a Mac. Don't get me wrong, I like my PC just fine, and I always intend to own a PC. But for "arty" Photoshop stuff, I end up using my Mac most of the time. Photoshop seems to run faster and smoother on a Mac. (Even though Macs may be slower in other things, they seem to be designed to run Photoshop, and it shows in most benchmark tests.) A high percentage of "arty" people use Macs. But, don't get a Mac for any reason other than because you want to.
Don't let a PC-enthusiast (or Mac enthusiast) bully you into choosing either platform. YOU make the choice. Both systems have a lot going for them. The final choice is yours, and yours alone.
Don't be afraid of venturing into digital art. It is not that scary. I should let you know that I learned everything I know about digital art, digital tablets, Photoshop, Painter—everything—through online tutorials and books. But mostly, it was books.
Do not underestimate the importance of books. I believe that books are extremely vital (the book links peppered all over this site should make that obvious!), and they are particularly important with digital art. I've even written a Photoshop books recommendation page, which should get you started.
Not only did these Photoshop books help me learn how to use this powerful software, they also taught me general principles about how digital graphics work—things like what "dpi" is, different color settings, what resolution is appropriate for web, for print, etc. Many of these Photoshop books will serve as a good introduction to digital art and publication as well. When I started reading these books, I was a rank newbie. Now, while I certainly am not pretending to be that knowledgeable, I can get around okay and can even sometimes sound like I know what I'm talking about! And that's all due to . . . books! (Don't worry, you don't need to read them cover-to-cover. They are there to give you the information when you are looking for it.)
Even if you think you are the most pathetic of newbies, there is definitely a book for you! Especially for Photoshop—it is the most popular and powerful piece of digital imaging software out there, and so there are plenty of books devoted to it. And if you really are the most pathetic of newbies, why not start with a standard "How to use Windows" or "How to use Mac" book as well? You need to learn how to run your computer before you can learn how to do digital art with it. I certainly read plenty of such books when I first got a computer, and they were extremely helpful.
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