How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet for beginners

The best way to draw on a computer is by using a Stylus and Graphics Tablet with an art creation program. As a beginner, you may draw with a mouse but this can a bit tricky to use. For more information on how to create digital artwork on the computer, read on! – “creating digital artwork on a computer”

How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet for beginners

This tutorial will outline some of the basic and professional ways in which you can draw on your computer or smartphone. If you don’t have a drawing tablet or stylus, or a large budget there are other low-cost ways to start creating digital art – even as novice or ‘newb’.

Create Digital Artwork
Tablet & Stylus

Beginner – drawing on your computer and creating digital art

Drawing on a computer can be more straight forward than you think. I started out using a regular old rubber ball mouse and Microsoft Paint when I was a child – long before a Stylus and tablet came into my life.

So, the absolute bare essentials for drawing and creating digital art for your computer are as follows :

– A regular old mouse
– A keyboard
– A computer
– A graphics program (digital art software)

Should be noted… it doesn’t have to be an Apple mouse. Maybe something from the 80’s?

Is creating digital art easy?

Yes and no, getting started with creating digital art can be very easy and low cost. Getting to a stage where you could call yourself a professional artist takes time and years of practice. The best way of getting started with creating digital art is by downloading graphics software and get practicing to improve your digital drawing techniques.

I wish I could find my very first digital drawing, it was created on a Windows 3.2 in the era of the awesome floppy disk – you can read a bit about me here.

What digital art software should I use?

There are so many to pick from, but for the sake of just creating something you can call ‘digital art’, begin with something you may already have, MS Paint In Windows. by delving into Paint, select a colour and away you go!

Gimp Icon
Gimp Logo

There are other art programs out there that are also free such as Gimp and Krita. I have personally never used Krita but the results on the website show what it is capable of and it has also been given a recommendation from a reputable digital art magazine IFX (Link(. This magazine is dedicated to creating fantasy, digital and traditional artwork.

Advanced digital artwork software

As both a designer and digital artist, I use 2 main programs to create my art and design work, these programs being: Abobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Illustrator often gives a very clean cut appearance that you may see in books, posters, lifestyle magazines etc – this is called ‘vector art’.

Adobe Photoshop is a versatile piece of software that behaves like a drawing and painting tool and offers an intuitive workflow. The example below shows the two different program styles and what they can create. This is just an example created by me – Jimmsdesign.

Vector Art and raster art example - how to draw digitally. Painted, flat, vector.
style examples, Photoshop Vs Illustrator

It should be noted that these programs can both be tricky to master and you may be more drawn to one that the other. You can get a free trial or purchase a subscription to use the software by going to Adobe Creative Cloud (link) and downloading it. If you are just starting out on your journey to becoming a digital artist or illustrator, I would test a free program first.

What type of graphic artist or designer do you want to be?

As budding digital artist, designer, illustrator or painter what sort of outcomes are you looking to achieve? If you are unsure and just trying your hand at creating digital art on a computer that is fine a starter step.

Here is what may suit you more if…

Adobe Illustrator may suit you more if you want to become a designer or a clean cut vector artist. The way a vector drawing behaves inside a program is a quite a different to raster art program such as Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop is great If you are wanting to work as a traditional illustrator, digital painter, game artist etc.

There are thousands of examples of digital artists on social media with websites and professional blogs. Some to mention : Behance, imagine FX, Artstation. Design Week are filled with a colossal range of talented designers and artists.

Imagine FX Magazine
Artwork Copyright Future Publishing – Imagine FX – Source – wikipedia

This person here is a terrific vector artist and designer – Vicky Doodles

What equipment to use for drawing on a computer?

Very old computer mouse for drawing on a computer!
If you are actually drawing on a computer with these legendary relics… Kudos to you. Image Source – Wikpedia

Using a mouse to create digital artwork (beginner)

The humble computer mouse has been around for decades and is often the first got and very basic tool for drawing on a computer. You can still use a mouse be it a optic or USB (these still around?) to create digital art in MS Paint, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop or any other 2D graphics software.

Using a computer mouse when trying to draw onto a computer is fairly simple. It is often a case of selecting a colour, a brush shape and size and drawing around the white space. As I already mentioned, I can recall using paint has far back as Win 3.2 back in the early 90’s. the left mouse button and start applying pixels or digital paint.

A computer mouse in action | digital drawing

This example shows the end result of some digital artwork created using a mouse in Photoshop. It’s a bit trickier to use although it’s not bad for straight lines!

Drawing with a mouse! Visual example
Drawing with a mouse! (An Apple Smart Mouse)

I would advise moving on from a computer mouse at some stage if you are thinking of getting serious with drawing on a computer, be it for graphic design, illustration or your own sanity.

If you are thinking of spending many hours drawing and creating digital artwork, using a different input will save on potential wrist ache also.

Using a stylus and graphics tablet to create artwork (beginner + intermediate)

The day I plugged in a Wacom graphics tablet was the day I changed the way I created digital artwork on a computer. Using a drawing or graphics tablet can make the experience of creating artwork on a computer much more organic.

Below is an example of me sketching something in Photoshop using a Stylus, Tablet. It’s quicker, smoother and much more human way for creating a drawing, or in this example a black line sketch.

Drawing with Stylus and Tablet example
Drawing with Stylus and Tablet. Handles, curves and waves and is much easy to flow with

Reasons why a stylus and tablet are great options for drawing on a computer

– It will offer a greater level of control when trying to draw on a computer – when you get used to it.
– It will offer a better work flow.
– It may reduce wrist strain when drawing
– The stylus and pen often come with pressure sensitivity, allowing for a greater level for control and hopefully moving you closer to the digital artwork you want to create.
– Short cut commands can be added to the drawing tablet to speed up the work flow.

Once I started using a tablet after a couple of days it became second nature to me.

Drawing Tablet Equipment
Tablet as shown in top of post

How long does it take to learn how to draw with Wacom drawing tablet?

When drawing with a Stylus and Wacom tablet it can take as little as 1 hour to start creating digital artwork.

I tried an experiment on a friend to see if he could use the drawing tablet… he found it strange at first but quickly got used drawing on a Wacom Tablet (Intuos Pro).
It should also be added that he is neither an illustrator or an designer, or a somebody who can use Photoshop! Within 1 hour, he was drawing! That is how quick you could pick it up, although what who drew on the day wouldn’t look amiss from something a 7 year old would bring home – that is beside the point.

He could use the tech.

Have the drawing technology won’t make you a digital artist overnight. It takes time.

A Cintiq allows you to draw straight onto a computer screen

Cintiq display, used to create digital drawings and artwork
Cintiq Display – draw straight onto it

Using a Cintiq removes the disorientation of drawing from a Tablet to screen, you can work straight onto the display using your drawing stylus. You will create the graphic art you want sooner but it is a higher price point as this technology is generally more expensive.

A Cintiq is one the best tools to create professional digital art on a computer. It acts just like pen paper offering great results without technological limitations.

My professional use of Cintiqs is very limited due to it’s price and being satisfied with Bamboo (now Wacom Intuos Pro) tablet. Cintiqs are great quality and are top of the range pieces of equipment. If you are a beginner I would recommend starting with one of the cheaper tablets first.

This video, shows a Cintiq in action. This is not me by the way.

How to draw on Smart tablets and Smartphones

In recent years technology has come a very long way for digital artist’s, designers and illustrators. We are no longer confined to just drawing onto a computer, we can now create artwork on the go with smartphone and stylus.

Tablet artwork
This artwork was not created by myself.

David Hockney has created artwork on his tablet (iPad) and exhibited it without limitations or reduction to the quality of his style. The only observation I have made is that the edges if the pixel perfect brush strokes is that they have a slight spongy and blurry feel, but that could be due to the scaling up of the artwork from a tablet or phone – a smaller screen blow up big can reduce image quality.

You can read a bit more about his David Hockney artwork here :

You can now create digital artwork from your Samsung, Iphone, Ipad, or most ‘Smarttech’ which is available online.

Drawing on a tablet or a Smartphone using stylus can be and low cost way of trying your hand at digital drawing or painting. This the equipment you will need to draw on a Smartphone or Digital tablet :

– A Smartphone or Tablet
– Drawing or graphics software download onto your phone or tablet. You can look on the app store or Google play to find an application that suits your phone or spec.
– A tablet or smartphone stylus.

It should be noted that I have used a Wacom Bamboo Stylus Mini to create artwork on my phone just for doodling. It’s light, small and convenient. But gave me personally ‘meh’ results.

Bamboo Mini Stylus - draw on Smartphone or tablet

Summary | how to draw on a computer using a Stylus and Tablet.

If you skipped the the basics on how to create digital artwork on your computer this how to do it simple steps.

1) Buy a stylus and drawing tablet of your choice.
2) Install the hardware on your computer.
3) Check the drivers are up to date – calibrate the software to your computer
4 )Download a graphics program such as Photoshop or one of free applications mentioned previously.
5) Open the software.
6) Start creating digital art!

Summary | how to draw on a computer using a Mouse (PC) in quick steps

1) Check your mouse is installed
2) Open the relevant art program such as (MS paint) or if you have something better – great!
3 )Voila! Start creating your masterpiece.

Credits – All the best with your digital art journey and creating digital awesomeness on your computer.

Thank you for reading, hopefully this post has given you some insight into how to create digital artwork and an idea of tools you can use to draw onto a computer.

If you would like any professional assistance please feel free to contact me on my website.

You may be also interested in reading this :
Handling black in print
Creating artwork for game
Reducing Banding in Photoshop
https://blog.jimmsdesign.co.uk/how-to-create-a-stem-game-or-e-learning-application/

How to get the black you want in print! Some tips and tricks to help

Working In Black In RGB & CMYK

The Great Black

Black can be a trouble to work with when it comes to print, especially with all of the varying print processes, paper finishes and general variations with commercial printing machines, inks, screen calibrations and so on – working with a black is a headache and I’m sure many others would agree! So, I have put together some tips and tricks to assist with your projects – it can be a dark and treacherous path. This post will mostly focus on creative approach rather than the pure technical aspects of Black ( K ). Working with 4 colour printing and spot colours is a detailed topic in its own right which is worthy of a post.

Illustrators, painters, artists and photographers

If you are a designer / work in print skip this paragraph!

Firstly, does it really need to be BLACK? When I say does it need to be ‘Black’ are there many things in the real world that are completely black? Aside from an all light absorbing, all-life-drinking black hole that absorbs all light and colour? Besides… that’s something that;s not of our world as far as I’m aware. Looking at the world around you, you will see come to see how lighting, surface, atmosphere and texture will absorb surrounding colours, including what you would what you would call a black surface. For example, someone is wearing a black t-shirt, more often that not if, even if it is new, light will catch on the folds, the creases and the contours of the fabric giving the black fabric a slight hue or tint depending on the light source and ambience.

Study things! I like to look at surfaces and objects that have an interesting finish for example : gloss surfaces, bottles, matte paint, skin, fur, hair, shadows, animals, sunglasses, cloth, etc. Another good source of reference of how to use light and dark with dramatic effect is Chiaroscuro – do some research online – research Caravaggio (one of many artist’s using this approach) and see what comes back. Caravaggio used light and dark with excellent dramatic effect framing the narrative in light and shadows. This is potentially subjective but hopefully… it will be food for thought – if its jet-black you’re after then please read on! ( I have attached a little image below with some dark but not black shading )

This image shows how tints shades can show some almost black can work. Most things are not strictly jet black

RGB BLACK… A HACK

A Preference

Typically, I like to work in RGB first and then convert my files to CMYK afterwards, especially if I’m working on a bitmap illustration or digital painting. Why? Because working in RGB generally gives me more creative freedom in the beginning and it also allows me to move between digital and print at a later date anyway. This is a my preferred method when working on an illustration and by no means a rule, just a preference. I’m not the only one working this way. By doing a Google search I stumbled upon a commercial artist who also likes to work this way – this writer and artist goes into much greater detail about the in’s and outs of color channels on their blog. I recommend having a read at some stage – perhaps after you have read my post.

(http://muddycolors.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/printing-your-work.html)

Unexpected Results – Designers a pleasant accident

I was always taught to work in CMYK for print and RGB for digital. I still champion this for working with professional printers as trying to print from RGB file may produce some erratic results, be it for leaflets printing, flyers, and other mediums. I accidentally ran a test print from Photoshop in RGB (Thinking it was CMYK) and the results were far more superior than the CMYK version. Both were printed on the same satin finish paper, on a Canon Pixma A3 with an impressive result. Despite my efforts and tinkering with the levels in the CMYK version to replicate what had happened In the RGB Version, I couldn’t produce the same results. I will make an assumption that my Inject printer translated the RGB to CMYK and just knew what I was after. I can’t complain too much as this project was sent to print and retained all the vivid colours and strong black colours.  Saying this, I still recommend trying to stick with the CMYK for design and print despite this result as this is typically what is asked – best to be safe, but something worth exploring for the future.

Digital Black Colour in Photoshop – Add a Hue

Unless your are working in RGB and your artwork will remain for screen (digital) only. Then may be best to work with ‘Designer Black’ check the numbers. Although the computer says it black (or you’ve had it calibrated) it is best to drop a bit of colour into the mix – and do test print it.

Photoshop Colour Palette
And Example of using the black in the colour palette

Last Round Up Hacks!

  • Take Notice of the colour warnings when you are in the colour picker window. This could save a lot of headache later on. (Yellow Triangle)
  • Let the printer do the leg work. Send your artwork to the printer and try to let them help you. A printer worth their salt will want to help you and have your return custom. To reinforce your expectations, send them a physical sample from your home printer – assuming you have a good quality home printer.
  • A HUE, if you are working on an image with a lot of dark areas why not add a little hue / tint of colour? 20% cyan for example or some magenta/red for a warmer image.
  • Avoid working with 0, 0, 0, 100 K, as this best reserved for font/text printing and can your work charcoal appearance. Use a ‘Rich black’ or ‘designers black’ instead. 20, 20, 20, 100 k for example.
  • Avoid 100, 100, 100, 100, CMYK as this is reserved for crop marks and using this colour can drown the paper – no one wants drowned paper!
  • Don’t be fooled. Your screen can be way out of the sync with your printer. Do some test’s first and see what results come from your printer (even printing on your home printer cannot guarantee the finish you require when you send your work to print) So take note.

    Yes… black can be painful to work with! And can be tricky colour to tame!

Thank you for reading how to work with black in print!