How Do I Transition From Traditional To Digital Art

My name is Lauren, or you can call me “Lau” for short! I’m currently a student learning Illustration with Animation.

 I’ve always loved drawing ever since I was young, I think the earliest memory of that love started from when I was 5. Drawing & painting has always intrigued me, the way that people are able to create such beautiful things with their hands is something extremely admirable.

 As I’m growing up, my sources of inspiration are always constantly changing. When I was 11-13, my source of inspiration was paintings from pop surrealist artists such as Mark Ryden & Camilla D’errico as well as some anime shows I watched. Then it changed to more exclusively anime inspirations when I was 14, then it changed again to the several artists I follow online when I was 15, and they keep changing. Honestly, I wasn’t very sure how I wanted to draw or what I wanted to be. An artist, yes, but I never knew what kind. I’ve done my fair share of realism, cartoonish styles, the entirety of my anime phase, and other artists’ styles but nothing managed to stick with me. It took years of being frustrated, honestly. All because I was stressing myself over the idea that “I have to develop a style right here, right now!”, but it doesn’t work that way.

The way I draw now has only begun to develop around mid-year 2018, which is not so long ago. Only then was I found something that came more naturally to my hand instead of forcing myself into drawing in a certain way that “maybe others will like more”.

2018 was when I was still doing traditional paintings/drawings with watercolor & markers since I was very comfortable using them. Honestly, I was convinced that I wanted to be a traditional artist and that I’ll continue to paint portraits of characters for the rest of my life. But that didn’t work out.

 The reason I made a more drastic change to digital drawing was because of two things;

1.) the need for improvement

2.) the industry

The need for improvement is the driving force to my creativity, the constant dissatisfaction in my own work pushes me to do things better. I tell myself that “ If I’m satisfied, then I’ll never improve.” because contentment is the enemy of progress. Now, this has its own ups and downs, the key is balance. The balance I did not have. A strive to be better is great, but please don’t ever press on so hard until you break. The other reason being industry standards because of how versatile digital art is as a medium.

 Honestly, it’s pretty nice now that I’m a lot more used to it plus there’s so much more you can do with it compared to traditional mediums. I think the biggest challenge for this change is letting my handwork the tablet. Being so comfortable with my hand feeling the surface of textured watercolor paper to having it on a smooth tablet without a screen was really, really frustrating. 

A lot of my digital work up on my account now is centered around 4 main characters who are my own original characters, under the tag #latte_trm. TRM standing for “The Real Monsters”, which follows a group of 4 unlikely friends who are forced to depend on each other.  I don’t post much about their individual stories, so instead, I like to illustrate fake comic covers for them, which allows me to generate a lot of ideas and experiment more with concepts for their story. The main focus for my art nowadays is color usage, which I like to express a lot in my character illustrations. Colour has always been my strong point because I really enjoy working with it. Many of my color palettes are inspired by artists such as; Gabriel Soares, Samuel Smith, Sachin Teng & Kat Tsai, all of whom are extremely talented artists.

Tips for digital artists:

The very cliche of me to say but, practice fundamentals. Learn proper anatomy, shapes, values, composition, etc. Very boring but man, it’s really useful. I didn’t start with pure fundamentals so now I have to catch up, which explains the occasionally questionable anatomy in my drawings. And try digital painting!! It’ll help you so much! Doing studies from other artists/photographs will help you a lot because when you paint you’re learning how to break things down into simpler elements, just enough information to convey many things. 

Some less-professional tips:

1.) patience

  • Give yourself some time to get used to it. Is it frustrating? Yes. Very. But things always take time to get used to :D

2.) better materials≠better skills

  • I think it's a common misconception among the art community. You don’t need a fancy tablet with a huge screen to produce good work, because your materials don’t define your skills they just enhance them.

3.) Don't stress about the style

  • Young artists, (myself included) tend to glorify finding an art style. Finding an art style is nice, it’s your comfort zone but all artists will change. So don’t ever place yourself in the idea that style > everything, style is something develops over time and changes a lot too. Don’t pressure yourself, let loose and make good art :>! 

4.) Social Media

  • “ I don’t think my art is good enough to post, I’ll just post once I’m good”. Then….that won’t ever happen. A bit cold of me to say but if you keep waiting for the perfect time where your art is good enough, that time won’t come because your opinion on your art will always change. What you were proud of today might be something you hate in 2 years, so don’t stress it! Post what you wish, it is your art after all.
  • “ The numbers “ oh. OH. This is a huge issue and it is TERRIBLE. Placing your worth on numbers is very detrimental to your mental well-being, don’t draw what you don’t want or whatever that’s trendy just because you “should”. I just want to say this because I have allowed my worth to be determined by said numbers, which caused a lot of anxiety. Remind yourself that at the end of the day, you don’t owe anyone anything, you make art for you. Make happy. That’s the most important.

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