When you transition from traditional to digital art things are going to be awkward at first. So to make the change as quickly and painlessly as possible you want to do the things that make the digital tablet feel as close to traditional as possible.
Choose the Right Tablet
Ideally, having a tablet with a screen you can draw directly on will be the closest thing to traditional that you will experience in the digital world. The price of the tablet will be the next real thing you feel.
If the price is an issue then a drawing tablet without a screen is your only other option. This really messed with my mind until I was able to coordinate my hands while looking up at the monitor – it took about a week to get used to.
These are unavoidable things you deal with when you go from traditional to digital art.
Getting Rid of that Slippery Feeling
The slippery surface of the tablet is what I found to be the hardest thing to get used to. I stumbled across the fix for this one day when I had a bunch of paperwork piled on my tablet..
While moving my stylus out of the way I noticed my cursor was moving in my drawing program. Up until this point I kind of assumed that the pen needed to physically touch the tablet.
Now I simply place a piece of Strathmore Vellum drawing paper between pen and tablet and I have the same tactile feel as with traditional drawing.
Now you have the texture that you are used to traditionally drawing on available on your tablet for just the cost of the paper.
Obviously you can’t do this for a drawing table with a screen. So screen protectors have been developed to give you a more paper like feel.
Draw How You Like to Draw
Depending on how you like to draw, whether sitting at a desk, using an easel, or drawing in your lap, you do have options.
Drawing while eating chips, soda and reclining is the preferred method – for me. Because drawing hunched over at a desk for hours at a time you will have back, neck, leg aches. I drag my tablet all over to avoid the dreaded sitting disease.
So my next purchase will be a wireless tablet with a bigger drawing surface. I’m currently drooling over the Huion WH1409 Giano.
There are portable digital drawing tablets with screen that would provide the same kind of freedom (look up xp-pen bands). But my preference is a tablet without a screen.
After I got used to drawing on a screenless tablet I became a little spoiled because I could see everything. It’s interesting how fast you get accustomed to not looking at your hand as you’re drawing.
So I’m with that smallish group of Youtubers that say, “hands just get in the way”.
Get the Right Drawing Program
Get a program that will give you all the features that mimic how you would draw traditionally. My favorite is Krita, an open source program with all the bells and whistles.
But the useful features for me are the screen rotation, pen tilt and a really great brush engine. The screen rotation takes care of my need to turn my drawing – which I do a lot.
Pen tilt is mandatory for me because I am so used to drawing with the edge of my pencil/brush to make different marks and I can’t seem to shake that habit. So it’s nice to have that feature available so you don’t have to change how you draw.
The brush engine simulation is great. Though I only use two or three brushes for everything. It’s good to have something that is the same or very close to what you are used to.
Final Thoughts on Changing from Traditional to Digital Art
Prices of tablets have come down while quality of the hardware has gone up. Since Wacom is no longer the only digital tablet maker to choose from the popularity of digital art has exploded.
Because the price of entry to ownership of a digital tablet has come down the tolerance of slightly lower performance is higher – for a little while any way.
When these few things finally became available to me it made a huge difference. I feel my transition from traditional to digital art is complete.