7 Tools to Help You Make Better Digital Art
Hello BOOtiful people,
Today I’m sharing with you the tools I use every time I create a new piece of digital art, from hardware to software. Even though I design physical products, most of my ideas start and finish on my iPad.
This guide is more for people starting out, and those interested in how I make my art. I hope some of these tools are useful to you in your own creative journey!
Ipad Pro and Apple Pencil
I started making digital art thirteen years ago. Back then I was a high school kid and all I knew was a desktop computer, a tablet, and Corel Draw.
Tablets come with limitations though, namely the inability to look at your pencil tip and see a line coming out. I drew and drew and never got used to this. It felt unnatural. So when my mom got an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, I was like hmm…
But there’s no way a measly tablet can compete with a desktop computer, right? After all, I wanted to be a big, "professional" artist
So I tried it out. And oh my God, my life changed right then and there.
If you can’t afford a $2,000 Cintiq Pro, or want to be portable, or love the feeling of a sketchbook in your lap, I cannot recommend an iPad with Apple Pencil enough. The pressure sensitivity, reaction time, etc. leaves nothing to be desired. It’s everything.
And if you can’t afford a brand spanking new iPad, no worries. Get an older used one. I still use a 2015 iPad Pro. It’s so good I haven’t bothered to upgrade.
I got this simple drawing glove from Amazon and I loooove it. My hands are tiny, but this one does fit with a bit of room.
The purpose of this glove it two fold.
One, it helps to keep the iPad screen from picking up on your hand and drawing lines all over that you don’t want.
The other is that it helps your hand glide smoothly across the screen as you draw. This is great because it allows you to draw with your whole arm, not just your fingers. Sometimes this is the best way to get a smooth line.
I’ve used this glove for years now and it’s held up through hundreds of illustrations, my cat attacking it, me spilling beer on it… super great. Packaging was also cute.
This helps because a matte screen protector has a slight tooth to it, making your iPad feel more like a sketchbook. I adore it and can no longer stand the feel of the pencil on a slippery smooth screen.
I would say the one I got interferes with the colors of the screen ever so slightly, but not enough for it to bother me.
I'm told it will wear down your Apple pencil nibs faster. But you can replace those and in the three years I've used this, I’ve only had to replace mine once.
This is my favorite drawing app on the market. I like it even better than Adobe’s Photoshop app.
This one app opens a whole warehouse of art supplies and paints to you, all within a little ipad. It’s editing features aren’t as plentiful or robust as desktop Photoshop’s, but they’re decent and the Procreate team is always adding more.
And by some miracle it’s still only $9.99 to buy. No subscription. Incredible.
There’s a lot of companies out there that make digital brushes, but the only ones I’ve tried are True Grit Texture Supply. Pedro Correa uses them, and if they're good enough for his gorgeous illustrations, it’s good enough for all of us.
My favorite brush pack is the Rusty Nib Inkers, because pen and ink art is my specialty. I also make heavy use of their paper textures.
Their brushes and textures are adapted from real bristles and real paper. I love that, because I want to bring some of the soul of the real world into my digital art. Gritty paper, pens that bleed too much, imperfections. To me, those are the things that make digital art human.
True Grit’s packs are affordable and easy to install. Their TOS for commercial use are fair. They’re way better than the native Procreate brushes. 11/10 recommend.
This is a simple vector app that I use when I need a perfect circle, square, star, etc. It’s great for drawing moons!
Usually I make my shape in Graphic then copy and paste it into Procreate. I might use it as a guide and draw over it, so at least there are some human imperfections. I feel it can look a little off to have a perfect circle, but all the drawing around it is done by hand.
This great, free little app pairs well with Procreate.
A Cup of Tea, a Candle, and Some Music
I’m a Taurus and supposedly we're very sensual. Setting the mood before I start creating is an important part of my process. Lately this means black tea, a pumpkin candle (I don’t care that it’s summer) and dark chill beats. Helps me feel relaxed and inspired.
I hope this list helps you in some way and, if it does, tell me in the comments what your three bonus items are to help set the mood for creativity!
*Disclaimer: I use affiliate links in this blog post. They're included where appropriate to help you find the products I use and recommend.