digital art beginner mistakes

You’re new to digital art, just starting out and have no idea how to go about it? I’m gonna give you Six incredibly useful tips, so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

I have been doing digital art for about 10 years now and it took me a really long time to feel comfortable painting digitally. When I started out, I didn’t have the amount of information that we have readily available for us at this moment, and so I made a lot of mistakes, and I really want to help and motivate, as many people as possible, to not give up on their art and not to make my mistakes.


Number one mistake that I see beginners do, is not start out with a well-defined sketch. When you’ve been doing digital art for a long time and you know all your basics by heart, you can afford the luxury of having a very loose sketch, or not even having a sketch at all, but as a beginner, you want to have as much help as you possibly can, and so having a very well defined sketch from the beginning is going to help you a lot. I made this mistake a lot. I was either feeling lazy or impatient and I just wanted to skip over the sketch and just go right to the fun part, which is the painting, and it made my life so much harder. Proportions ended up being wrong, one eye ended upbeing higher than the other, wonky hands, screwed up composition, it was a complete mess and it took me so long to just try and fix it and I ended up not being able to fix it all the way through. It’s just not worth it. So at first, take your time with your sketches, make sure that you like the way it is looking before you move on to the next phase.


Second mistake, is not using references. When we’re starting out with digital art, we tend to think that using references is cheating. References are essential for your painting to look good and by references I don’t mean to trace over them or to draw them exactly as they are, but have them off to the side, use them for inspiration, for scenery, poses, mood, lighting, anatomy and use that to make your own composition. Grab a bunch of pictures that inspire you and even take your own pictures if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, and build your own world. We each have our very own specific way to look at the world and our entirely unique way to interpret it and so you don’t have to worry too muchabout it. You’ll always end up with a fresh and new sketch.


Mistake number three is rushing your painting. Starting a new painting is always something fun and exciting and so we tend to want to see how our mental image will translate into our final painting. So, we end up rushing. We want to have it finished now and we forget that every painting has to go through its ugly phase. You know that phase, where your painting looks like this abstract image, like it’s just straight out ripped from your nightmares? Yes, we all know that. When we get to that stage, we start to get frustrated, we start thinking, “why does it look like that ? It should look good, but it doesn’t!”. This would happen to me and I would eventually start thinking, “maybe I’m just a bad artist. If iIwere better it look good”. And we start questioning our skills. We start questioning our own worth, when every painting needs to go through this phase, every painting goes through this phase.

Imagine, you have your own lab and you’re building your own human. Bit of a weird comparison, but bear with me. So where do you start out? You start off by building your skeleton, then you add some organs and you put some muscle on top of that. You take a breakand you take a step back and look at what you’ve done. What does it look like? It’s downright scary, you know! It’s not something you want to have just walking around your house. That’s the ugly stage of painting. That’s because you haven’t gotten into detailing yet. You go back to your painting, you add some skin, you add details, eyelashes, nails, maybe a beard, hair, whatever you want to add and then it finally starts looking like your mental image. What you thought it should look like, because you took your time, you didn’t rush it, you added all the detailing, you enjoyed the process. You had fun with it until the end. So never rush your paintings.


Mistake number four is being afraid of making mistakes.

So this is where we get to the weird part. “It doesn’t make sense Joana. You’re making a video about the mistakes beginner digital artists should avoid and one of your tips is NOT be afraid of making mistakes?”

I can guide you and tell you all about my mistakes, but you will eventually end up making your own mistakes and THAT’S OKAY! That’s completely normal and it’s what helps you grow. If you know what will help you be better at digital art, Great!! Use it to make your life easier, but what sometimes still happens to me, is that fear of the blank canvas.

You want to start a new painting, but something inside of you is hesitant. “What if I screw up?” It’s ok. You can paint over your mistakes. With digital art you can undo them and at worst, you can just start over. So dive right in and experiment, have fun.


Mistake number five is not being consistent.

To get better at painting, a lot like anything in life, you need practice, and I know none of us like to hear this at all, because practice takes time. But it’s the only way you’re going to get there. It needs dedication and being open to learn new things. Learning how to be good at anything in life requires a certain dose of obsession. You can’t get the thought out of your mind: “I really really want to be good at this!”. So you take every opportunity you can get to practice it, to improve daily and if you can’t find the time to do it daily, just do it as often as you can. The moreyou do it, the better you’ll get.

And above anything else….


Being bored.

Find a way to love what you do and of never being bored with it. If you’re learning your basics, perspective, anatomy, lighting, but you think: “Joana, watching videos about these subjects is boring. Having to draw the same looking thousands of boxes is boring and ridiculous!”. Well…find a way to make it fun!

I love painting my own ideas, so whenever I’m learning something new, I find a way to incorporate what I am learning into a new painting, even if it’s something really quick. If you’re learning how to draw eyes, for example, and you’re just tired of drawing eyes on their own, why don’t you try to draw a portrait? That way, you’ll be learning your subject and so much more than that, and you’re making it fun for yourself.

The best way to learn is by having fun and enjoying the process, because that way you are learning something new, you’re acquiring new skills without it feeling like a chore.

If you had fun and ended up learning something from this, why not leave a like, share, subscribe to my youtube channel, click that bell so you’ll get notified every time that i post a new video.

You’ll really be helping me out. I am just a small art account just starting out and it’s really hard to grow in the midst of all these huge channels, so any help you could give will be greatly appreciated, and you’ll be getting more videos like this one.

Also, if you’d like to know more digital art tips, I have a patreon in which I share tips and tricks, works in progress, tutorials and I even offer mentoring and one-on-one conversations, in which I help you improve your art. Following me on patreon also makes it possible for me to create more content for you guys.

Thank you so much. I hope you have a lovely day.

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