The Process of Creating Digital Art

Foreword by Dan Wiseman, Web Wise founder: As part of my work supporting young entrepreneurs, I regularly have the chance to learn about interesting new areas of digital media. The article below is written by Rebecca Johnson, student at the University of Exeter and gives a fascinating look into the world of digital art. Enjoy! – Dan

When it comes to creating digital artwork there are a plethora of available apps and software out there. You might be interested to know the work behind creating such graphics and the apps that facilitate this.

I have recently started to take digital art seriously as the new social media content creator for Exeter University’s Razz magazine, where I am both responsible for all of our Instagram and Facebook content and often create illustrations to be printed inside the editions and even on the front cover. Before this, I started to develop skills in illustration when I made my first Instagram account dedicated to my love of books. I kept this up alongside studying for my GCSE’s and this is when I first saw the potential in illustration apps. I created cartoons and drawings reaching up to 1,000 likes.

Today, I have started to explore the software again and develop my abilities further. Procreate works well on iPad with the use of an apple pencil it feels almost as natural as creating traditional sketches and paintings.

The start of my process involves me sourcing references or taking my own. I find Pinterest to be a good platform through which to collate various images to give me inspiration. I often sketch on a piece of paper to begin with, sometimes even creating a painting if I want to take my idea further.

My reference for the face.
The painting I created first.
The digitised result.
The magazine cover

In this example, I found an image of a head and then took photos of my own hands in the desired position. I wanted to paint these elements first before taking this painting and digitising it. I scanned the painting and then imported it into Procreate. My priority was rendering the skin fully and both colour correcting and introducing a light source.  I then moved on to the background. Procreate has various brushes available both on the app itself and available to purchase online. The glowing effect around the moon and planets is something I tried for the first time with this piece. The feature I use the most in Procreate is the ability to create layers. Instead of worrying about getting everything right first time, you can add new layers separate from the rest of your work. This way you can experiment with colours or ideas without jeopardising the elements of the work you are happy with. For this piece, I created a new layer for the face and hands and another one for the background elements.

Each illustration I create involves a similar process. With smaller drawings I often don’t take so many steps to produce the work. Sometimes I exclusively use my own photos, for example. While there are many apps available these days, both on laptops and tablets, I find using Procreate and my Apple Pencil a great way to mimic the feel and experience of creating traditional artwork, which is what my background is in.

For more examples of my work please feel free to explore @razzmagexeter and @uoe_artsoc on Instagram!

You can also contact me on my LinkedIn here.

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