Guide for a High School Digital Artist

By Emile Button ’19

Being a high school digital artist can be hard, especially for beginners. Getting publicity, buying expensive devices and programs, and media are major things to know and have knowledge on. If you are an artist who has developed their style and is comfortable with sharing your art on a semiprofessional level, then here are some tips to get started. This may also be used for an art portfolio for college!

Programs and Devices

First things first, what to use to draw. My first way to draw digitally was through my desktop using a Wacom tablet called Bamboo, then another tablet called Intuos. This is a very common tool that most digital artists use. It is an external device that you can connect to your computer. I recommend a Microsoft computer because in my experience Mac computers do not pick up pen pressure which is extremely important.

Wacom produces multiple kinds of tablets that are each different in their own way, some show your computer screen and others are blank. This means you’d have to look up at the screen as you draw, not looking at your hand like you normally would on paper. It is hard to get used to, but not impossible. Here is a link to take a look at the tablets Wacom offers.

What I use now is my favorite, Surface Pro 4. All of the Surface computers are amazing, and not just for art, but taking notes in class and gaming as well. It is compatible with all art programs that I have come across. Problems with the Surface though are the delicate pen nibs, but I use an old glasses case to keep it safe in my backpack.

The programs that I mainly use for drawing are PaintTool SAI, Photoshop, Krita, and for animating, Firealpaca. PaintTool SAI is my personal favorite. Here is the version that I have with the tools that I use. You need WinRAR to use it, but the program is very useful none the less. Photoshop is not free, but it is one of the most used programs, especially in college.

Speed painting is a fun way to get your art out there. If you don’t know what it is, it is a recording of you drawing sped up with music playing. It’s a fun way for viewers to see your process and listen to music that you edit in. Programs that I use for recording are Bandicam and OBS, for editing I use Videopad and Adobe Premiere.

Publishing

Before you get started with media, you need to make a name and signature for yourself. These are very important because it establishes you as your own artist and person. For example, my username is artzyGamer. I created it because I’m artistic and I’m a PC gamer. My followers and artist/gaming friends call me artzy, and I’m known by that. Create something that fits you and your personality or something that is fun to say. One of my favorite artists’ username is Ryu-Gemini on Tumblr and goes by Ryu.

Next is signature. This does not necessarily mean your name on the art piece, this means how you are known. For some it’s a thing they always put in every drawing, sometimes it’s the way they draw a body part, and others its their water mark which is something very necessary because people copy art. I use the way I draw mouths and eyes as well as a watermark. A talented artist on Instagram named glenn_arthur_art draws a hummingbird in every single painting and it doesn’t throw off the piece. It reminds people that its your art and others to go look for more.

Another way people know that its you is drawing your avatar or “admin”. It represents you and your page. Some make an original character (oc), others draw themselves. The colors you use in your oc should be integrated in your color aesthetic. For example, my favorite color is red so if you go to my Tumblr, red is basically everywhere and I always draw myself in a red flannel.

Media

Posting your work is the next step, and the best way to do that is through media. The best websites/apps for digital artists to post their art on are Tumblr and Instagram.

Tumblr is a blog website that allows you to customize your page and make it easy to navigate the kind of art you draw, like oc’s, fan art, comics, ect. Tumblr also has a re-blog feature which is very helpful. When someone re-blogs your art, all of their followers have the opportunity to like and re-blog it as well, spreading your art through the Tumblr feed. Whoever sees it can go to the original post and is lead to your art blog. The artist world is huge on there and it also allows an ask box for your fans to contact you without using personal information or getting buried in your notifications. I use Tumblr mostly, but Instagram helps me advertise my Tumblr page so people can go look at the things I don’t post on Instagram.

Instagram allows you to branch out to people who are on social media. Although it doesn’t have the ask feature, people can comment on your art and tag others to look at it. You can also give links to other social media in your bio so people can see more.

NEVER EVER USE DEVIANTART! It is a very young community that doesn’t know anything about professional art and the way the site is set up is not appealing. Its just not a pleasant site to post your art work on and it just makes it look tacky no matter how good you are. Also, most of the art on that site is stolen so never go there. It’s like the Voldemort of the artist world. You don’t talk about it or go there unless you’re under 13 and still use Microsoft Paint to draw over copied anime or my little pony body bases.

YouTube is for speed painting, and by using your social media to advertise your channel, you can branch out to the YouTube community as well. You could also post drawing tutorials, animations, and artist challenges like the “draw in 20 other styles” challenge, meet the artist, and more! I love doing it because I get to share my favorite music and share something relaxing to watch.

So this was my digital artist guide for devices, programs, publishing, and media. Good luck and someday hopefully you can use Patreon so people can buy your work!

Find me on Tumblr, YouTube, and Instagram @artzyGamer (very old speed paints on YouTube, beware) and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask!