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So you want to become a digital artist? Whether you have a good grasp on traditional drawing techniques or are you have zero skill and want to jump straight into digital painting, the purpose of this guide is to de-mystify digital art for you to make it as easy as possible to start. In this guide I do my best to be unbiased, while I do clearly state my opinion of things I dislike, I also do my best to state their best merits and acknowledge the good things about them regardless.

Kaleidoscope by ra-lilium
(Artwork by :iconra-lilium: also known as white datura)
Before we start, let's debunk the myth that drawing digitally is easier than drawing on paper. It is most certainly harder to draw digitally, no matter if you do it on a drawing tablet or a screen, I very frequently re-visit my good old sketchbook to quickly sketch out some ideas, as do many professional digital artists, because of how sneakily much harder it is to work digitally even if you have years of experience, I don't really fully understand what makes it harder and I'm betting it's no one thing, but many small things combined, like how you have to start up your painting software and make a new blank canvas and set up your work environment, then even after that it just feels sorta unnatural to draw on a screen or tablet compared to a physical drawing surface, as opposed to just grabbing a pen and paper and bam you're already working full speed.
So one of the best tools a digital artist can have, is a good old fashioned sketchbook and a pen or pencil within an arm's reach. you never know when you'll need it, and it doubles as a nice way to spend time while waiting for obnoxiously long loading screens in elder scrolls games to finish up Star Trek Nodding (Community Emoticon) 

The only thing that's easier digitally is correcting your mistakes after you make them with the mystical undo button or by drawing new things on new layers, but ultimately at the end of the day those two things are little more than gimmicks. They're vastly overvalued and overused to the point where they become a bad habit and a digital artist's worst enemy instead of best friend, so tread carefully into the realm of undo.

The true and often underestimated benefit of digital artwork is that no stroke is permanent, you can paint over the same spot a million times and the paper will never get worn and the paint will never get too thick like it would in real life, that's how you should try to correct your mistakes digitally, by drawing over your mistakes and correcting them later instead of right now. At least if you're a digital painter like me, if you're doing cel shading I suppose undo or erase is more useful than for painters since your lineart needs to be perfect, so it has different benefits for different types of artists, that's for sure, but digital painting is never a huge advantage over drawing on paper in any way except for cost, paint can cost a lot over the years but a tablet is just a one time purchase. Until it breaks :dummy:

Which leads to my first topic.

First I'd like to talk about money, getting into digital art will cost you, but it won't cost as much as you'd think, your main expense will be a drawing tablet, and while a basic ,medium sized tablet from Wacom, the world's only well known tablet manufacturer, would cost you a whooping $200, if you open your mind to alternatives you will find that you can sometimes get great tablets as cheap as $50. Drawing software ranges from FREE to $400, it used to go higher until adobe saw reason and made photoshop available for a monthly subscription of about $10 a month. So you can now get the most popular digital drawing software for $10 a month instead of a one time payment of like $700 when I started, and if that's too much there are great free alternatives that I will discuss further down. Based on what I wrote below I recommend you have $62 or $116 to begin with ($62 for the cheapest tablet I recommend, $54 for the ideal beginner drawing software, but you CAN get free software instead and thus it will only cost you $62 :dummy:)

But before we get into the details about software, lets talk about:

Drawing Tablets

Y5edI0a by Cestarian

So, can you draw with a mouse? Yes, but you really really shouldn't, and besides, until you learn how to draw effectively with a tablet, drawing effectively with a mouse will be ridiculously hard. If you're a beginner, drawing with a mouse is highly inadvisable because to have any chance to do it effectively you need to fully know and understand your drawing software first, (and that software absolutely must not be MS motherfucking Paint :stare:) which brings us to drawing tablets, drawing tablets come in three forms.

  • Drawing Tablets
  • Tablet Monitors
  • Tablet PCs
There are effectively only two features that make a drawing tablet a drawing tablet, those 2 features are:

  • A stylus/pen
  • Pressure sensitivity
As long as it has those two things it has the potential to be an effective drawing utensil, now lets go into the perks of each of these things.

Drawing Tablet
  • Your hand does not cover any part of the picture
  • Ergonomics are easy (basically for maximum ergonomics you just need to put it where your mouse used to be :dummy: and sit comfortably in a chair that leans back 135° while you're drawing :nod:)
  • Affordable and usually very high quality (even on off-brand products)
  • Hand-eye coordination needs to be re-learned from scratch as you do not see your hand while drawing. This can take anywhere from a week to a year, the stronger your background in traditional art the easier this will most likely be thanks to already knowing what you want.
  • USB Cables tend to be obnoxiously short :stare:
  • Requires a fully equipped personal computer
Tablet Monitors
  • You see your hand while you're drawing so coordination needs less adjustments
  • Tends to double as a professional quality display with accurate color reproduction
  • Can be used as a substitute for a standalone computer display on desktops (though this is not recommended mostly due to how color on screens tends to degrade after extended use, if you use it only while drawing it will last longer)
  • Retarded expensive (especially wacom) these things will normally cost cost both your kidneys, an arm and a leg. Figuratively speaking ofc.
  • Hand-eye coordination needs to be slightly re-adjusted thanks to parallaxing (the only reason it's easier on a screen is because you see your hand moving, not because it feels anything like drawing on paper, read up on parallaxing if you want to know more, and DO try a screen before you buy)
  • Significantly more fragile than a regular tablet so must be treated with extreme care for longevity
  • Requires a personal computer
  • Your hand obscures part of the image
  • You will almost always want to buy a better desk stand for these devices
  • Most of these screens have a ridiculously slow response time, the average is 13ms (most screens have 1-5ms response time) but this issue is not THAT noticable
Tablet PCs
  • Super portable
  • No cables
  • Often fairly priced due to highly competitive markets and many available brands (most popular are MS Surface Pro and iPad Pro)
  • Doubles as a tablet pc, and sometimes as a phone even :dummy: so it's a general purpose device
  • Pathetically weak hardware, expect poor performance in all drawing applications compared to desktops and laptops, no matter how much you pay.
  • Poor selection of painting software except for windows tablets (also if linux tablets were a thing, but they sadly aren't :saddummy:) due to shitty mobile OSes like iOS and Android being the standard.
  • Very small drawing surface
  • Your hand obscures part of the image
  • Pressure Sensitivity supporting tablets and tablet pens can be really hard to find, and the most popular ones are excessively overpriced
  • No keyboard usually, so hotkeys are much more difficult to effectively use
  • No stand and you will probably have to look far and wide before you find a tablet PC stand that works well for drawing
  • You can never get it to truly feel anything like drawing on paper, stop trying :stare: it's not like there's anything special about paper anyways!
  • Many styluses are purposely designed with super fragile nibs that make them wear down super fast (I wore down a nib once in a week and I didn't even draw that much) I don't know which brands do this, all I know is that the worst are Wacom. Older generation tablets had much sturdier nibs that would normally last for years at a time at least, some would last indefinitely. Some non-wacom brands still have super sturdy nibs but your mileage will most definitely wary.

That's the overall picture of types of devices, their pros and cons.

The ideal device type for a beginner, function-wise is a tablet monitor, however due to their price most of you can forget about it :stare: if you're really crazy enough to buy one though, the most commonly recommended tablet-monitor is the wacom cintiq line, there's no arguing that these are top quality hardware, but there's also no arguing that they are massively overpriced. So I recommend you instead investigate non-wacom brands like Yiynova, XP-Pen, UC-Logic, Ugee or Huion to get a good deal. I absolutely do NOT recommend buying a used drawing tablet unless you're getting it from a close friend or relative who almost never used it. There is one silver lining however, to get a good experience out of a drawing screen you absolutely do not "need" a large display, a 13-16" device will usually be more than adequate, basically as long as you have a drawing surface somewhere in the area of an A5 paper you're good. I have a 22" tablet monitor and I usually only drew on about 1/4 of its available drawing area, and the rest is just used for UI. Most programs have a one-key shortcut (usually TAB) to hide the UI which you could do while drawing on a smaller screen to make the most of it, so you don't have to go crazy and buy the biggest screen. I'm not saying they're not nice, they are, but they're unnecessary, they're mostly fluff and you shouldn't be paying for this sort of thing until you're already a professional artist making money off your art, which btw is a huge minority, most people can't realistically expect to ever get there, that shit is hard work, be a programmer or something instead if you want money, it's much easier and pays better :D trust me.

Anyhow since tablet screens are ridiculously expensive and tablet PCs have pathetically weak hardware and shit performance (it's only really fit to use as a portable sketchbook, which you know, a plain old sketchbook can do an even better job of) the entry-level tablet device winner that I can recommend has to be the good old fashioned drawing tablet :dummy:

Now how to pick the right tablet? First let's go into which brand

  • The most popular and widely supported brand, closest thing to industry standard we have.
  • Higher end products (Intuos Pro and Cintiq lines) have Tilt and rotation support which allows you to use the tilt and rotation of your pen as input parameters. These are definitely advanced features, learn to control pressure sensitivity before you try this
  • Guaranteed quality hardware
  • They try to create a "pleasing, paper-like" feel on their tablet's surfaces so you get a similar sort of feedback as drawing on paper (other brands try to do this too sometimes, but wacom takes it the most seriously even if I wouldn't exactly say they do a good job)
  • Works really well on Linux (literally better than on MacOS and Windows)
  • Their tablets tend to have touch support. I don't know why anyone would want a glorified touchpad but if you want it, you shall have it!
  • Magnetically powered styluses (this is a super overrated feature imo but it basically means you never have to change your batteries)
  • Some of their styluses have an eraser on the back end (to be honest I never used it, I think it's a stupid gimmick, I always just press E for eraser, way faster than turning my stylus around :dummy:)
  • Massively overpriced, a basic wacom medium sized tablet costs up to 4x what competing brands charge for the same tier product
  • Shit quality drivers (seriously with all the money they must be raking in as nothing short of the monopoly on drawing tablets, you'd think they could afford to hire half-decent programmers, but nooooooooooooooo :angry: however if you're a linux guy like me, the silver lining is that the community developed wacom drivers for linux are the best drawing tablet drivers the world has ever seen, aka, they're the only ones that are 100% stable and reliable, crash free and nearly bug free :dummy: hopefully this reliability will carry over to libinput's implementation)
  • The nibs on modern devices (at least the cheaper ones) wear down faster than a *insert many dirty words here*, and need to be frequently replaced wacoms only excuse is that they have a paper like texture on their tablets that causes it accidentally on-purposeFlippin' Tables (suck my nipples wacom!)
  • Their cables and usb ports in which they are plugged to are notoriously fragile on intuos line products.
  • Styluses for the 'cheaper' (for example the $200 i linked to) models are made out of cheap plastic and are known for being easy to break, which is pretty unacceptable for the price tag, especially knowing that older models like the bamboo and intuos had high quality styluses before the current lineup.
  • Modern versions of wacom tablets no longer feature an eraser on the lower end models (which basically completely defeats the point since the only users who want an eraser are first-time tablet users :stare:) while supplies last you may be able to buy a cth-680 like mine which has a nicer stylus; but I honestly recommend you just buy one of those nice, cheap, alternatives :dummy:, erasers were a stupid gimmick anyways! )

Everything Else
  • Orders of magnitude cheaper than Wacom, every single time.
  • Very many tablets have comparable quality to Wacom tablets
  • Wider variety of tablet sizes than if you consider only wacom options
  • Some of them are more sturdily built than wacom's current offerings, especially when it comes to stylus nibs.
  • No quality guarantees, research your device carefully and read/watch as many reviews as you can find about the device before buying, always.
  • Tilt support is extremely rare (but exists :la:) and no tablet has rotation support, nowhere, no non-wacom device I have seen has rotation support... These things are overrated anyways, and the only users who should be considering these features are people who have already drawn on such devices for years anyways. They would only confuse a beginner, and even get in their way more often than not.
  • Shit quality Drivers (wacom is bad enough already, but the alternatives aren't any better, I have never seen a top quality tablet driver (besides the linux community made wacom driver, it's a joy) from any tablet manufacturer, though on the bright side I guess you could happen on a brand that has good drivers if you look far and wide enough, but don't count on it, I've never seen such a brand yet, but driver-wise, you're either fucked with wacom or you're fucked without wacom, rocks to be a digital artist huh? Pro tip: if you get into driver issues, first things to try are restart your computer, reinstall your driver and if that both fails then install an older (or newer) version of the driver, you will eventually make it work, your mileage will vary, not all drivers are created equal, but once you get them to work most of them will work the same :dummy:)
  • Pens are usually battery powered (But your batteries will probably tend to last super long anyways, for example as I write this I have drawn on a yiynova tablet for a year and then some with the same duracell AAA battery the entire time, so it's really not a big deal but it can affect the pen's weight which can be good or bad depending on whom you ask; most tablets are powered by a much lighter rechargable battery, and there are even tablets (like gaomon m10k that have battery-free pens like wacom)
  • Most styluses don't have an eraser (again, this is a gimmick anyways so doesn't really matter unless you're weirdly nitpicky)
  • Linux support is unreliable (Digimend, the non-wacom tablet support for linux community project has no active developer right now :( )
And there, now you have all the data required to make an informed chice about what tablet to buy, almost.... Tablet manufacturers use a lot of buzzwords like "levels of pressure" and "LPI" and "PPS" but in my experience they're just that, buzzwords, they don''t really mean much and are highly unlikely to alter your drawing experience in a noticable way, all drawing tablets made today have an acceptable 1024 or better levels of pressure, the other things effectively don't even make a difference so don't worry about them, all tablets, wacom or not will have sufficient levels of pressure, and you are extremely unlikely to notice the difference between 2048 and 4096 levels of pressure, seriously it makes like no difference to most people so don't worry about that shit until you have found a good reason to, e.g. already know what you're doing, have tested many tablets and are seeking the ultimate one, then yes, these sorts of details may start to matter and yes you may end up with a ridic overpriced intuos pro, but until then, give yourself some time to learn this stuff and see whether or not it really matters, make your own judgement before you start spending big bucks on buzzwords :nod:

Now, we know which brand, but what size of tablet is the best? :nuu:

Well, it's simple, for all beginners I recommend a medium sized tablet, this can be A5-A4 sized tablets although A4 is starting to be quite large. Really large tablets are like A3 or in that range. DO NOT get a small tablet first, preferably not ever. A small tablet limits you to only drawing with your wrist which may easily lead to wrist injury in the long term, a medium sized tablet however is just big enough to accommodate elbow and shoulder drawing techniques. A large tablet will be too large for most people to even fit on their desk leaving medium as the ideal sized tablet for the vast majority of people; therefore you should start with a medium tablet and then later decide if you want a smaller or bigger one :nod: this is what I personally did and I do not regret it since medium was indeed the right size for me in the end. But I may want to buy a larger one later.

Before I move on to software, I'd like to recommend which tablets I think are optimal for beginners to buy today. These are:
(Note: These are the most affordable up-to-date and also verified as usable medium sized tablets from their respective brands, they are more or less the cheapest ones available in this size. If you spend a little more, you can get superior quality tablets for something around $100-$150 from non-wacom brands, good example products in that category are the huion Q11k and the XP Pen Deco-03. A distinct advantage of these devices for example is that they are wireless and overall higher quality hardware with greater specifications. They're made to compete with Wacom's Intuos Pro line which costs an absurd $380; essentially over 3x the price of these competitors.)

  • The Huion 1060 Plus/Pro ($83)
  • The Ugee HK1060 (lol, the start of this video is so spot on right?) ($53)

  • Gaomon MK106K (The new kid on the block! Never seen this brand, thanks to that it's dirt cheap, but based on what I saw in this review, it just might be that ONE brand that has decent drivers. Maybe, so it's worth a shot! but since it's new as of this writing, it does not have a lot of reviews :nod: so tread lightly) ($62) ($67 for mac compatible version)

  • Wacom Intuos Art Pen And Touch Medium (CTH-690) (Wacoms current generation medium sized tablet for the wacom fanboys who may be reading this, word of caution though, it's about 4X more expensive than the previously recommended models and basically all you get for it is a battery free pen :stare: and top-positioned function keys which make them much harder to actually use but noticably decreases the tablet's horizontal footprint size) ($200)

Ok so after that absolutely retarded wacom marketing video... time to wrap up my piece on tablets by giving you some tips and tricks. First of all, most tablet drivers will have a very important setting most people (surprisingly) don't know about that will force the drawing surface proportion to match the display's aspect ratio, this is actually super important and it baffles me that it's not enabled by default, in Wacom's settings it's called force proportions and I noticed in the Gaomon M106K it was called something like screen aspect ratio, basically tablet drawing surfaces sometimes aren't in a 16:9 aspect ratio, my Wacom Intuos CTH-680 for example is in 16:10 aspect ratio, drawing on a 16:9 screen with a 16:10 drawing surface will create an annoying horizontal distortion so if you for example draw a perfect circle on your tablet you will get an ellipse :nuu: so make 100% sure you look for and enable this option :nod:

Secondly, when you first start using a tablet it will feel weird and your lines will go all sorts of wrong, many people start immediately looking for things about the tablet to blame for this, like it feels too different from a paper (some people have even taken up gluing a piece of paper on top of their tablet to create a more paper-like texture and all kinds of crap) or it would be easier on a screen... don't do that. It's just your hand-eye coordination that's not used to working in this sort of way. To make it as easy as possible to get used to this I recommend lining the tablet up dead center in front of your screen, and on the table in front of the screen as opposed to the keyboard tray, when it's on the same surface as the screen is standing on you will be able to see your hands out the corners of your eyes. But remember this is essentially a training wheel measure and once you get good at drawing like this I highly suggest you actually put the tablet in something like a keyboard tray so that you can comfortably lean back at around 135° while working, I would also recommend you get an ergonomic monitor stand so that you can pull the screen closer to your face to avoid leaning forward :nod: this is potentially the best ergonomic position an artist could possibly have, but your hand will be completely out of sight. So long-term this is way better for your body than say a fancy super expensive cintiq for which there's no way around it that you have to bend over it while you draw.

Speaking of which, thirdly, drawing screens like the cintiq are not superior devices, while they are more high tech(cus you know, LCD n stuff) and certainly easier to use for beginners, once you get used to drawing on a drawing tablet there will be NO visible difference in the quality of your work when you switch between a screen and a drawing tablet, to put this fully in perspective as I mentioned earlier I have a 22" tablet screen, a Yiynova MVP22U+RH, as reviews will say it's a superb quality tablet and I fully agree with that, but you know what? I decided after this year to go back to my intuos CTH-680 medium sized tablet and decided that overall I like the experience of drawing on a good old fashioned drawing tablet better than drawing on a screen, while the proportionally smaller drawing surface is taking some getting used to, the superior ergonomics and not having my hand obscuring my view of the image bit is a really massive perk and I'm definitely not the only one who thinks so (yup, the super highly renowned stanley lau, aka the legendary :iconartgerm:, prefers this style of device as well :nod:) so a cintiq isn't really going to produce better art because it costs more, nothing does. As long as your tablet has working pressure sensitivity you will manage, everything else is just extra, just fluff.

And lastly I guess I should throw in, Digital Ink/Windows Ink is cancer, use Wintab, if your tablet drivers have like this tickbox for "support digital ink" or "support windows ink" untick that motherfucker right now :stare: it's such bad shit, and it's very likely to get in your way when you paint without you even knowing it by being a slow piece of shit.

And there you have it, you absolutely do not have to spend a fortune to get a drawing tablet if you just buy smart :D As for me personally since I have now decided to go all out on the drawing tablet route I may buy an intuos pro another year down the line because despite my distaste for wacom, it is the undisputed champion of non-screen drawing tablets and since I have drawing digitally for long enough, these extra "pro" features on it start to matter more and more to me as I go :nod: as much as I hate to admit it. But I have no regrets for buying a cheaper model first, in fact my only regret is having bought a wacom and not a cheaper model like the ones I just recommended for you :nuu: seriously I coulda saved A LOT of money by not buying into the whole wacom thing Llama Emoji-66 (Angry) [V3] but such is life, hope you don't make the same mistake as me, or at least if you do, you do it with full knowledge that you didn't have to :nod:


The ever resounding beginner question "what drawing software should I start with?" well, I'm gonna give a complete answer to this question :nod: but first operating systems. Disclaimer: use whatever OS and Software you like!! this is just my $0.2, my experiences with them and resulting opinions of them.

The most widely used OS is Microsoft Windows, the most popular variants being Windows 7 and Windows 10. Windows 10 has a lot of gimmicky mobile/tabletpc features that are likely to interfere with your drawing tablet drivers so be warned (these tablets as I mentioned earlier, are shaky enough without that shit), it's not digital artist friendly, you may be just fine but I would rather recommend Windows 7 if Windows is your thing. hopefully this gets better in a few years, but I wouldn't count on it considering wacom seems hellbent on not hiring a capable programmer, not now, not later, not ever. But one can hope. Maybe the other brands will do better but they may also do worse, so if in doubt stay with win7 if microsoft didn't force feed you win 10 yet.

You can use any and all digital painting software on Windows.

The second most used OS is MacOS, this is not a very good OS in my opinion due to it being unoptimized and thus having quite poor performance compared to the other operating systems (like coincidentally most digital drawing software :dummy:) but it's biggest benefit over windows 10 is that it gets out of your way while you work, and it's biggest benefit over all windows systems is that it is inherently more stable and less likely to crash or freeze or be a pain in the ass that breaks all your programs :stare: so I guess it does have some merit, the problem with it however is that to use it you need to buy an exorbitantly priced laptop, do these guys even make desktops anymore? I don't think so :dummy: but basically this means due to being most likely confined to a laptop as a mac user you cannot set up a proper powerhouse desktop workstation, I bet apple does sell those, and I also bet it costs like 2x what a custom built one with slightly better parts would too, so yeah... Don't buy Apple unless you're filthy rich and don't know what to do with your money is what I always say, still if it floats your boat then that's your deal.

You can use a lot of digital painting software on MacOS

The third most used OS is Linux with it's many flavors, I'm not gonna bother taking the time to tell you which linux flavor is the best (although if you want to get it as a workstation, ubuntu studio is like made for you so maybe work your way from there) this is in my opinion the ultimate workstation OS, it's rock solid, as stable as it gets, it almost never breaks unless you actually break it yourself, usually when it breaks it's with an update and updates can be rolled back so it actually never irreversibly breaks, unlike Windows and MacOS which force updates down your throat all the time and give you no way to undo them. For the professional, e.g. person who knows what he's doing this is like the best thing since the invention of the screwdriver :la: as a consumer OS it has a lot more simillarities with MacOS than Windows (although this is starting to change with the Windows store) mostly because all software is distributed via a software center. So you don't go google program name and then download .exe to install, no it's more like... app store, also in Ubuntu's case the UI is even a lot like on MacOS (but this can be changed to suit whatever tastes you have, KDE is your friend windows user, you're welcome :nod:) since most people are not using Linux already the downside to this OS is that it has some degree of learning curve, and how steep it is depends on how stuck you are in your windowsy ways :nod: the other downside though and it's achilles heel...

You can use very few digital painting softwares on Linux (Prime candidates are Paintstorm Studio, Krita and MyPaint, no photoshop, no corel painter :saddummy:)

There are other operating systems like BSD and Solaris but yeah, irrelevant to most people on the planet so I won't bother :nod:

Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk Digital Drawing software

Vector vs Raster

There are terms you will hear from time to time, vector and raster, raster is also known as bitmap and pixel (or pixel-based or whatever, raster is the official term for it) there are effectively 2 archetypes of programs, vector and raster based programs, the difference is that raster software creates a canvas with X amount of pixels aka tiny little boxes and when you paint on it the pixels underneath the brush get painted on, box for box, this is why when you zoom in things get "pixelated" as you start seeing these individual pixels, vector drawing software is a whole another beast, it uses programming algorithms to define and place each stroke, thanks to this no matter how much you zoom in or out, or upscale it to a bigger screen or downscale to a smaller one, it will never lose even the tiniest bit of quality this is typically used in animations like these cute little flash games or flash animations that used to plague the internet a few years ago and still exist on places like newgrounds and miniclip :nod: adobe flash, the program, is a vector drawing and vector animation software. So is corel draw, adobe illustrator and inkscape, I will not cover this software here because I am not a vector artist, I use raster because I find vector software to be lacking i.e. cannot paint the way I want to with it. I feel like the use of programming algorithms to define the strokes while a wonderful idea is just not done well enough to substitute it for raster painting yet, vectors are btw like the ultimate form of drawing for mouse artists since you can create 100% accurate smoooth strokes with like zero effort. Many raster based programs use vector based tools that are then converted to raster (rasterized) after using it, like for example the ellipse or rectangle drawing tools in photoshop as well as text writing tools, as a beginner digital artist you may want to look into vector illustration but for me it just wasn't the right fit as much as I wanted it to be. The 4 programs I mentioned, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Flash, Corel Draw and Inkscape(free :D ) are the most commonly used software for vector illustration and if you're interested I suggest you start out with Inkscape thanks to it being free but otherwise recommend you do your own research.

The vast majority of digital artists use raster software, even the ones that do cel shading which could quite easily be done in vector software, I don't know their reason for doing it but I'm sure if you ask around you'll find out :nod:

In raster based software the #1 tool for painting/drawing is normally called the "brush tool", so whenever you start a program that's the first thing you should look for and first thing you should try to use to draw :D

What Is the best program to start with?

The question everyone seems to have an opinion about, but instead of opinions let me give you one well known fact, digital drawing software tends to be SUPER complicated :stare: open up Adobe Photoshop for the first time and you will have no idea what to do because there are just too many freaking choices, most of which are btw completely irrelevant to a digital artist, especially a beginner. Krita, a commonly recommended starter software that I myself in fact started with, has the same issue (I was just lucky enough to already have a photoshop background, so I knew my way around the vast majority of features in photoshop already and this carried over to krita quite nicely) and corel painter is certainly no easier. Medibang and firealpaca are also quite bloated with features but not as far gone as these others I've named, I've tried almost all digital painting software I could find on the internet, so with that said here are my winners for best beginner software, and my logic for recommending them.

  1. Painttool SAI ($50~)
  2. Paintstorm Studio ($20; Warning: You need a dedicated GPU to make full use of this software!!)
  3. MyPaint (Free)
  4. MediBang/Firealpaca (Free)
Now I have never actually been a SAI user, so before the Krita fanboys start harping on about how Krita is better, let me explain my reasoning. I think a beginner artist's software should always be one that's easy to learn or at the very least isn't bloated with features that they may not be interested in using, the fewer confusing features the better, there's no denying that krita is filled to the brim with "stuff" that most artists will rarely (if ever) use. Filters, animations, bunch of vector tools, and so on and so forth, same with photoshop, and although it's not the same with corel painter, painter has the issue of being fundamentally overcomplicated to begin with :dummy: (but for good reason) not to mention way overpriced. After mastering all features of a very simple digital painting software like SAI, the user is then and only then ready to move on to bigger, more complicated software like Krita or Photoshop if they so desire, because at this point they know the difference between what they "need" and what's "extra" e.g. cool, but not core to their painting experience. Getting too distracted by trying to learn all the complicated ins and out of a feature rich photomanipulation software will mean they spend less time drawing and more time on just learning how the damn beast works. And that's a situation no beginner should put themselves in. At least not without a dedicated teacher to show them the way ;)

As a painter, the #1 feature I judge all programs by is their brush engine, because I spend over 90% of my time in any painting software using their brush engine (also known as just "brush tool"), so when I look for good software I look for the best brush engine experience, and out of all software I have tried (which is a lot) paintstorm is the one that suits my personal needs the best, this might not be the same for you, you may for example not want a fast brush engine as badly as I want it, but when you are testing painting software I encourage you to judge it first and foremost by the quality of implementation of the one feature you use the most. 

This is how, after learning and preferably mastering the basics with a program like SAI or Paintstorm, I suggest you should choose the best software for you as you move forward from being an amateur digital artist to being an expert or even a professional who knows what they want and accepts no less. Every digtal artist has to do this on their own, but first you have got to learn the basics, otherwise you wouldn't know the best program for you even if it slapped you right in the face!


Sai Logo by Cestarian

Paint Tool SAI - 5400JPY ($54~) (Has Free Trial)

Works on: Windows only.

Personal opinion: The most beginner friendly general purpose painting software with a bite stronger than it's bark. Also possibly the mpst lightweight painting software weighing only 4.5 MB (most software is several hundred MB)

I know it's not exactly dirt cheap (pretty cheap though) but trust me when I say that for a beginner this is a worthwhile investment if only to streamline your learning experience and ease you more gently into the digital drawing experience :D

The reason I recommend this as the ultimate software for a beginner digital artist is simplicity, this program is very much straight to the point and doesn't have any features or weird unexpected buttons you won't know what to do with, the entire program is centered around painting and only painting and doesn't allow itself to get bogged down or overcomplicated by including features that not everyone would use, it has a clean and simple, intuitive user interface, making it easier to learn than all other digital painting software of comparable capabilities, there are many great artists who use this software professionally so don't be fooled into thinking it's only purpose is to be your training wheels, you could end up loving it for decades :la:. It also helps that it's cheap with a 1 time payment of $50~ as opposed to say $10 a month for photoshop which would fast accumulate to $120 per year.

This program has a simple, to the point user interface, simple yet solid and fast brush engine, it is tried and tested, has been around and loved by it's users for years, it is lightweight and feature complete, it is the perfect starting point for any first time digital artist.

PS: Make sure to check out version 2, it's even better and you get a free upgrade to version 2 once it's out of beta when it gets released if you buy version 1 first.

Header by Cestarian

Paintstorm Studio - Cheap $20 (Has Free Trial)

Works on: Windows and Linux(Beta), MacOS Version is in development.

Personal opinion: Simple and elegant, this lightweight program specializes in painting and with it's simple UI, never gets in your way. It also has one of the fastest and most versatile brush engines I have ever seen, potentially competing with corel painter.

This program is my personal software of choice, I really like it. A brand new software originally released in 2015 still under active development and receiving lots and lots of new features and upgrades, it's already in version 2.0 of which the main feature was GPU accelerated brush engine which make this program the second-fastest digital painting software in the world IF you have a dedicated graphics cards, if you do not it is actually quite slow, sadly. To check if you have a dedicated GPU just download and install it, and see if there's a gpu tickbox in the brush menu, if it's there and you can click it you have one, if it's not there, the program will be slightly slower but you may still have a good experience in it so I recommend you have fun with the free trial, the free trial allows you to run the program X many times before running out :nod: I think 30 times.

The reason I recommend this software is that much like SAI, the program pretty much only has features directly related to painting and therefore is not bloated with features that will get in the way of your learning, HOWEVER the reason I could only give it second place is it's top tier and slightly complex brush engine. When you first open the program you will see a lot of buttons on the left side of your screen and ALL of these buttons :stare: are the brush settings :nod: these are the settings you use to configure or create brushes, and it's brush engine is quite advanced (much moreso than photoshop or krita, it can almost compete with Corel Painter :la:) but because of that the brush engine while super powerful, is not very simple, however all other parts of the program are super easy to learn and you can just take your time learning to use the brush engine over a few months since the program ships with quite good default brushes to use in the meantime :D

I believe for most artists this would pay off, because learning to make your own custom personalized advanced brushes is a necessary skill for every digital artist in my opinion, and paintstorm provides the ultimate experience for exactly that from a rather than beginner, intermediate level, this makes the learning curve steeper but all the more worth it :nod:

This software will only get better, and it's developers know what they're doing, the only possible alternative for me over this program would be the $400 Corel Painter, but I have to test that one more before I can be sure so until then at least, this is my favorite painting software :D beginner or not.

2016-0320-Community Logo by Cestarian 

MyPaint - Free! Free! Free! (And Open Source!)

Works on: Linux, Windows and MacOS

Personal opinion: Probably the most grounded in simplicity from the first line of code to the last, this program was made with beginners in mind and many advanced artists swear by it as their go to tool for quick painting and sketching purposes.

MyPaint is a bit of an underdog, I've seen a handful of people swear by it and at a glance after you first open it it would seem like it's simpler than the above two... But it has a major flaw, the default UI setup is ridiculous, so unless you have the patience and know-how (e.g. to know that this is what you want) to set it up something like this yourself manually, this is one of those programs where you will just open it up and have no freakin idea what to do not because there are too many buttons, but because there are too few :dummy:. I also noticed that the download links can be a bit wonky and you have to manually select the 32 bit or 64 bit installers when you download (if in doubt, select the 64 bit/w64 :nod:)

This program is perhaps the only one that was effectively designed in such a way that you can just open it up and paint, no hassle, from the moment you open it you have an infinite size canvas to work with, in other words you don't have to worry about setting your canvas size, it's already "as big as you need" without getting into any technical details :la: and I find that neat.

It's really not that hard to set up, in fact I'll walk you through it.

Open the "Window" menu at the titlebar

Now click the following in this order:
  • Preview Panel
  • Color Adjusters -> HSV Square
  • Layers Panel
  • Brush Groups -> Classic
  • Tool Options Panel
If everything goes well, the first 3 should be on the right side of the screen and the last 2 on the left side and now you have a perfectly solid UI. If however something went wrong, you can drag these panels around by clicking and holding the icon in their upper-left corner :nod: after setting this up and playing with the classic brushes you can start exploring more of the program and set up things like the "Favorites" Brush Group, creating your own Brush Groups and even creating your own brushes :la: just make sure you always select the "Freehand Drawing Tool" (aka brush tool) in the top menu bar.

Also be careful not to go too crazy on the zooming out, you'll end up with a humongous file hehe Sweating a little...  (takes forever to save, and brushes will get slower if you make them too huge; note that this issue affects all software, not just MyPaint :nod:)

If you use MyPaint as your first program, I would suggest making Krita your second program because Krita can open mypaint's open raster format files and so you can gradually ease yourself into Krita. Some artists like to use 2 programs and this is one such combination that I have seen before. Krita can do a lot of things MyPaint can't after all. (Another such combination I have seen frequently would be SAI+Photoshop)

Site-title by Cestarian or En Logo Pict by Cestarian

MediBang Paint - Free! Free! Free!

FireAlpaca - Free! Free! Free!

Works on: Windows and MacOS (Medibang also works on Android and iOS)

Personal opinion: While the UI design could be better, these programs are very well rounded general purpose drawing software with a very to-the-point feature kit and a hard to beat $0 pricetag!

MediBang is a relatively recent addition to the free software list, it started out originally as a program called OpenCanvas, MediBang as well as FireAlpaca and Jump Paint (a medibang derivative) are all effectively just 'lite' versions of OpenCanvas. FireAlpaca has animation support while medibang has some manga-creation features instead and Jump Paint is a customized version of medibang tailored towards mangaka and also has lessons on how to create pro quality manga by JUMP's editorial department :la: so if that's something you want then yeah, maybe go for Jump Paint instead of MediBang, that's bound to be some valuable data for you :nod:

MediBang and FireAlpaca don't do as good a job of being simple and to the point as my former 3 mentions, I'd say their UIs are rather unintuitive in comparison, but it's certainly simpler than most other alternatives, so there's that. MediBang or FireAlpaca would be a good starting points but their learning curve is steeper than of the above programs (with the exception being the brush engine part of paintstorm ofc :D ), and not due to how many more features it has but more due to poor design choices, however on a Tablet PC MediBang may possibly be the best choice you have, the only other option I know of would be (Corel) Painter Mobile (which is free but you need to pay a little for their brush engines, which is kinda retarded since it's the main part of the program but it was pretty cheap so meh, I really really liked painter mobile's sketch brush engine :D ) but MediBang is still a very sold program, so is FireAlpaca and I assume so is Jump Paint but the full experience is only available in OpenCanvas :dummy: what a confusing series of programs.

If you're confused by firealpaca vs medibang, read this.

The industry leaders

There are two quite heavily disputed champions leading the industry of digital artwork, those are Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. In my personal opinion the only one of the two that deserves to be called a champion of anything when it comes to digital art is Corel Painter, but nontheless I can't argue with the general consensus too much about photoshop's less disputed dominance over the market.

Photoshop-e26c2b1bff by Cestarian

Adobe Photoshop - $10+ per month/$120+ per year 

Works on: Windows and MacOS

Personal opinion: The best image editor, photomanipulation and post-processing software but with lackluster painting capabilities for it's price (it's brush engine while pretty nicely optimized, has too few customization options in my opinion)

Probably the most widely recommended digital painting capable software on the entire internet, used by professionals all around the world, personally I preferred Krita as while Photoshop's brush engine may be better optimized it's also less feature rich. But photoshop has reigned supreme since the 90s for a reason, even if that reason may only be because it reigned supreme in the 90s, it is however the completely undisputed champion of photo editing and manipulation :nod: and many photomanipulation and post-processing techniques that are often more easily achievable in photoshop than rivaling applications are indeed potentially useful for many of the more advanced digital artists, which is why a lot of artists end up working with 2 programs, i.e. their favorite painting application (commonly this is corel painter) and after finishing up there they copy the image to photoshop for post-processing and final refinement :nod: but there's no denying that this program is quite expensive in the long run. However there's also no denying that this is the most tried and tested program and most professionals by far use it, so you can't go wrong with this program as an intermediate-advanced digital artist, that's for sure. (Well, besides it's weird lack of built-in stabilizer which basically every other digital painting software since the beginning of time (or something :dummy:) has had... protip: lazynezumi :nod:)

61g7pP+bxDL. SX425  by Cestarian

Corel Painter - Over $430 + $200 yearly for updates (Has Free Trial)

Works on: Windows and MacOS

Personal opinion: The most expensive digital painting program there is, also quite possibly the best program ever for digital painting, with multiple SUPER advanced brush engines, you can usually find a way to make the brushes behave exactly how you want in this program which is the key to any digital painter's ultimate success.

:stare: is it just me or is that price so stuck in 2001 that no sane person that's not already a regular customer would EVER buy it in the modern market? :nuu:
Even Adobe upgraded their pricing strategy, but here corel sits stuck with it's head up it's ass thinking it's still the only program in the world competing for the "professional digital painter" title, which given the large list of programs both above and below this line is obviously not the case Disbelief 

But there's a reason for this price because even if this may no longer be the case, ever since the freaking 90s up until the mid 2000s this was indeed the one and only program professional grade software targeting digital artists in the whole god damn world :stare: the only digital painting program besides photoshop (and maybe the now pretty much dead GIMP) worth taking seriously, but unlike photoshop they weren't having any of that "image manipulation" bullshit, no their goal was to create a real, lifelike painting experience in the digital space and they got pretty damn close, with probably the best collection of brush engines the world has ever seen :la: this digital PAINTING software is an industry standard for a good damn reason :nod:

But riddled with serious bugs many of which can be traced all the way back to the 90s :stare: I don't think it lives up to it's price at all when it comes to code quality :saddummy: but once you power through these bugs, or happen to be one of those rare species of artists (like me :dummy:) who likes to paint on just one layer and are thus unlikely to ever encounter them, this may very well be the best digital painter's software on the market, but is it a whole $400+ more worth than paintstorm? a whole $500+$100 per year more than photoshop? It's kind of a tough sell Corel. I mean you guys not only have had (the same) serious bugs for 2 decades but you're also so butthurt over how miserably your linux distribution in the 90s failed that you absolutely refuse to make a linux version Facepalm as nice as corel painter may be, I'm just not feeling any love from these corel guys, only greed and anger :saddummy: but if there's any program I'd consider switching to over paintstorm it's corel painter, however at that price? I can't say I'm too thrilled to do so No, I disagree! to my great dismay. Corel needs to get with the times or get lost in my opinion, if nothing else, at the very least they need to get their head out of their own flappy butthole.

The Others

Right, so if you're not a beginner, and you don't wanna pay through the nose for some "industry standard because my name is adobe/corel" bullshit, what then? Well, I can still recommend Paintstorm if you have a GPU as a go to nice program, and honestly the rest of the recommended programs are all fantastic, even for an advanced user, except maybe mypaint, it struggles a bit to keep up at this point... And yes, medibang/alpaca has some shortcomings but SAI and Paintstorm are in it for the long haul, clearly :nod: but what if you're not convinced you'd like any of them? What if you'd tried them all and still haven't found a glove that fits? Well I have some good news my friends, there's plenty of other software available :la:

Krita-logo by Cestarian

Krita - Free! Free! Free! (And open source!)

Works on: Linux, Windows, MacOS

Personal opinion: The current king of free painting software, it is by far the most feature rich free painting software, it's open source, and does it's best to compete not only with photoshop but also corel painter, it sadly does not fully beat either of them at their own game, but instead it beats both by offering features that corel painter doesn't and offering brush engines of superior versatility to Photoshop's. This program has room to grow and there's no telling if in a few years it'll be the next digital painting behemoth, or the next digital painting vaporware. It could afford to be more noob friendly though and lacks the capabilities to do clean rendering (hopefully due to a bug)

My lost love... Before paintstorm I used Krita, I used Krita because as a painter I preferred it over photoshop :dummy: but ultimately found some problems in how it handles soft brushes and blending with them so I happily decided to switch to paintstorm because of that and paintstorm's indisputable speed advantage :nod: but if/when that gets fixed, Krita will again be a solid alternative for me, and even without this, for rough painted looking styles Krita is rock solid, and no program besides photoshop that I'm aware of can beat Krita in post processing and image manipulation tasks :la: so Krita is undoubtedly one of Photoshop's by far strongest competitors, and if none of the previously mentioned programs sounded like a very good fit, either you need to look at vector illustration software or this is probably the right fit for you. It has many cool brush engines but overall I'd say nothing that really stands out (it's sketching brush engine is sublime tho) compared to formerly mentioned software, if the blending issue is fixed it's default brush engine would definitely be vastly more superior to photoshop's than it already is, but it's not even in the same ballpark as corel painter. Yet :D

Krita also has animation support and some minimal vector drawing capabilities as well as some manga/comic illustration features, besides photoshop it's basically the only "all-in-one" package software, and... it's free!

It's loaded to the brim with awesome features but it is definitely not noob friendly, so unless you have a background in Photoshop or GIMP, there is going to be some degree of learning curve here.

BlackInk AdvancedDigitalPainting by Cestarian

BlackINK - $60 (available on steam) (Has free trial)

Works on: Windows (MacOS and Linux versions in (SLOOOOOOOOOW :stare:) development)

Personal opinion: A super fast and well coded (possibly the world's only well coded digital painting software :dummy:) program but it's achilles heel is lack of vital features and astoundingly slow development. Pick up the pace bleank, or this program will get left behind.

The one, the only, the KING OF SPEED! :la: this ladies and gentlemen is the highest quality (code-wise) digital painting software in the world as of this writing, with blazing fast GPU accelerated canvas and brush engine, support for H.U.G.E. Resolutions like 13K it can not only draw at those resolutions, it can potentially draw LAG FREE at those resolutions where most other software starts struggling before you even reach 4K, there is no faster software, this is it. Requires however (like Paintstorm) a dedicated GPU. I have never been as impressed with the promise of a digital painting software as this one, but I have also never been as disappointed, beside it's crazy brush engine it's almost completely void of features and basically the killer for me was the complete lack of a "flow" brush parameter (most programs have an opacity and flow setting for brushes, flow is more 'gentle' than opacity and blends the step between strokes where opacity won't) and this was the killer for me because nevermind poorly implemented smooth rendering in krita, this program doesn't even have the option for smooth rendering :nuu: however if it did, if it was feature complete it has the potential top be the one software to rule them all The Seriously Evil Laugh 

With a brush engine that supports complex mathematical/arithmetic operators and literal programming of individual brushes OMG SHOCK. this crazy software knows no bounds... except the bounds of it's own depressing lack of features besides this half-finished yet super awesome brush engine :saddummy: make sure to watch this tutorial first if you wanna learn to use it. It is mandatory.

Thumb Ogtag Paint by Cestarian

Clip Studio Paint - $50/$220

Works on: Windows and MacOS

Personal opinion: Simple and elegant, quite likely the best software for manga and comic book creation, and painting in simple/cel shaded styles.

Previously known as manga studio, this little gem woulda probably made my top beginner friendly software list if it wasn't for it's manga drawing specialization.This software is as I just implied quite simple and elegant at first glance, instead of having one main general purpose brush engine like most, it has 7 different brush engines for different brush types (from watercolor and airbrush to pencil and special effects) all in the same simplicity tier as SAI, this often forgotten software which seems to be more strongly marketed in Japan is the only truly professional class manga illustration software, it does that job and it does it really, really, really well, so if that is your thing, this is quite possibly THE best software for you :nod: and as it is really simple, you can also happily use it as your first software :nod: my main reason for not putting it up at the top are it's plethora of manga/comic book creation features, it's animation support, and confusing (and honestly somewhat scary) pricing strategy. It is also all around quite feature rich compared to my first 3 recommended for beginner programs, but makes up for it by having a very elegant UI design making it a solid 5th place for most beginner friendly software. This program does everything it claims to do exceptionally well and is best for manga and comic book creation and works super well for cel-shaded (simple) drawing styles.

The clip studio paint EX version has some unique features including Animation, 2D to 3D conversion (:la:), multi-page management and multi-page files. It also costs like one kidney, but the pro version is quite affordable.

Honorable Mentions: 
  • ArtRage (A program that like corel painter tries to emulate the feel of painting with rl brushes, omitted due to the imo slightly unreasonable asking price of $80)
  • Expresii (A very new (2016), GPU accelerated (blazing fast) painting application made to convincingly emulate real life watercolors :o I just found out about this one, omitted due to how highly specialized it is)
  • Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (Costs $30 per year which is fairly affordable, I tried it but was ultimately unmipressed due to the programs complete lack of capability for working at high/custom resolutions. It is very simple, but as the name implies, it's decent as a sketching program and nothing more, I would have liked to expect more from a company like Autodesk. While some artists have managed to make quite impressive looking work in it, it seems ultimately unable to produce production quality work. Either that or the trial version is super dumbed down, which would be a very dumb way to try to sell me a program.)
  • Studio Artist 5 (a rather new, AI Powered and AI assisted painting software, I've never seen anything like it and haven't had the chance to try it, it's quite expensive though at $200 right now... on discount, full price is $400)
  • GIMP (free, omitted because krita basically does everything GIMP does better than GIMP does it, Krita started out as a rework of the gimp but grew fast into it's own separate, and superior program)
  • Rebelle 2 (A program that like corel painter tries to emulate the feel of painting with rl brushes, omitted due to the imo slightly unreasonable asking price of $80, I also hear it's quite slow.)

And that's it for digital painting software :dummy: may you test everything and choose wisely. If I forgot your favorite program make sure to tell me which one that is in the comments (and if you say MS Paint I will cut off your head :stare:)

Hope that helps! In part 2 I will finish off by covering what hardware you will need and I will also share a couple of cool tips and tricks of the trade :D
Digital Artist: A Complete Beginners Guide Part 2(Part 1:
I will try to make this brief, basically, what sort of computer hardware is optimal for a digital artist's desktop or laptop?
First and foremost, you need a lot of RAM, while you can get away with having a disguised toaster for a computer and painting on it, you will most likely end up with really slow runnning painting software no matter what you use Lovely Shoujo (Nods) [V4] having more RAM will more often than not largely solve this. You need a minimum of 8GB of RAM to have any shot at a good painting experience on modern computers, and if you have such low amounts of RAM make sure you turn off all background applications while you paint, you have a lot more breathing room however if you have 16GB which is why that is what I recommend. Some artists will need even more.
Secondly but perhaps no less important you need a good, multicore CPU ideally you want an Intel i7, AMD Ryzen 5 or AMD Ryz

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Artist | Digital Art
I started trying to draw in February 2014, it's been a very bumpy road, and the end is nowhere in sight.

Guess I'll just have to keep trying.


Add a Comment:
olq-plo Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey there, long time no see, so I was wondering if you were alive !
Cestarian Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2019   Digital Artist
I'm alive, just inactive. I could become more active again any day now. It's a matter of just when I'll feel like it.
manpencil Featured By Owner Edited Sep 3, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hey, you are an inspiration. I have been reading your journal entries. And I am also trying to be a computer programmer I was wondering how you balance the workload. You said you take 4 hours of drawing and 4 hours of game design as well... I was wondering how you do both while having the time to work out as well. I am also have been going back to school to learn computer programing. But anyway keep up the good work!
Cestarian Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2018   Digital Artist
Thanks :D
GawkInn Featured By Owner May 9, 2018  Professional General Artist
Heeey, thank you so much for the watch, I hope you continue to enjoy your time at the inn <3 

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olq-plo Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday :ihavecaek: 
Cestarian Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2017   Digital Artist
ReptillianSP2011 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 9, 2017  Student General Artist
I just wanted to leave a message - I just solved Krita soft brush texture problem -… . Not the perfect solution, but take a look at smoother it looks in comparison with Photoshop.

EDIT : On second thought... I'm not even sure. There's one more pick here -…
Cestarian Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2017   Digital Artist
So what are you gonna share what you did? I think I know what you did though, and it's not a solution I could be happy with, you used the color smudge engine, didn't you?  I noticed that in krita you can get smooth blending with color smudge, but blending by smudge and blending by soft brush are not the same effects at all and I tend to prefere the effect and control of the soft brush.

Unless you really found a way to do it without smudging... But yeah like I said, are you gonna actually say what you did or what?
ReptillianSP2011 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2017  Student General Artist
No smudging. 100% brushing
. I was playing with angle, spikes, randomness, and spacing. Just the right combination can enable super smooth brushing. Better idea, I should make the brush available for download.
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