Digital Painting: The Complete Guide

You no longer need canvas, brush, and liquid paint to create your own original works of art. Digital painting, created on tablets and computers, is becoming more and more popular. There are many benefits to painting in a digital format. It's convenient, can be done from any location, and doesn't require traditional artistic training. Let's look at how to paint digitally and what you need to get started.

What is Digital Painting?

Digital painting is any type of painting done on an electronic device rather than using traditional methods such as canvas and acrylic paint. Digital painting is done on a tablet or computer using painting software and special brushes. With the right equipment, you can create digital paintings in any style. Digital artists create paintings for many purposes for both personal enjoyment and business. Graphic artists can create illustrations, logos, animations, and other images for clients.

What You Need to Get Started

If you're wondering how to do digital painting, you'll need a few items to begin.

  • A tablet. A drawing tablet such as an iPad or an equivalent device is the main tool you'll need. You can also use a graphics tablet, though in this case, you'll need to connect it to a computer as this type of tablet doesn't have its own screen.
  • Computer.  You can use a computer instead of or in addition to a tablet. As noted, you can use a graphics tablet with a computer. Another option is to paint using a touchscreen computer such as a Surface Pro. It's also helpful to have a desktop computer with a quality monitor to enhance colors. This, however, is optional.
  • Painting software. Drawing, illustrating, or painting software is necessary to paint on your tablet. There are many types of software available in all price ranges.
  • A graphics or pen tablet. This is a tool used for digital drawing and painting. For more advanced painting, you can also find a variety of digital brushes.

How to Paint Digitally

Digital painting is, in many ways, simpler than traditional painting and certainly less messy. However, like any creative endeavor, there is a learning curve. The best approach is to jump in and practice without worrying about being perfect. Here are the steps to take for creating a digital painting.

  • Obtain the necessary equipment. Make sure you have at least a quality drawing tablet and drawing/painting software.
  • Study the instructions and tutorials that come with your software. You can also find useful tutorials on YouTube.
  • Decide on a concept or genre. You can work in as many genres as you want, of course. As you learn digital painting, though, it's good to practice with a definite goal in mind. You might research and find examples of the type of painting you want to create, whether it's a portrait, landscape, animation, ad, or anything else. You can use a photo, painting, drawing, or even a physical object as a model.
  • Create a sketch. It's not essential to do this, but it can help to draw a simple sketch with a pencil or other writing instrument. If you have a scanner, you can scan the sketch and upload it to your tablet or computer to work from. Even if you don't do this, it can guide you during the process.
  • Start with simple projects as you get familiar with the process and software.
  • Keep practicing and refining your technique.


For anyone wondering how to create a digital painting, it's not that complicated. Technology has made it simpler for anyone to become an artist. However, just like traditional art, you can't expect to be an expert from the get-go. The more you learn about art and practice, the more comfortable you'll get.

Having the best tools can help you make faster progress with your artwork. Painter provides the most realistic digital painting experience you can find anywhere.

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