If you’re like me, you’ve dabbled with digital sketching here and there only to find yourself in a quagmire of confusion and disappointment as you realize that your newly acquired tools do not instantly offer a newly acquired increase in talent or skill.
But, never fear, I have 5 simple tips to help ease the transition:
1. Relax & Warm Up
As I always tell anyone who asks about how to sketch well, relaxing is probably one of the most important things to remember when sketching. Not only is relaxation important, but warming up, as you would on paper, is important as well. Certainly you won’t hurt yourself by sketching without warming up, but you’ll be better off for it. Sketching on a digital tablet will feel different depending on which tip you use in a stylus. Warming up with help you get adjusted to the transition and help you find your “footing”
2. Pick a program
Corel Painter is my favorite sketching program, but Autodesk Sketchbook pro is definitely a close second.
Why do I like painter? It works for me. Just as you have your favorite tool when sketching on paper, pick a program and try to stick with it. Sticking with the same program will get you quickly familiarized with the ins and outs of the tools you’re about to use in a shorter period of time instead of spreading yourself thin by focusing on mastering several sketch programs. I like the brush creator in Painter the best, which leads me to the next tip…
3. Use Custom Brushes
Standard brushes usually aren’t that great, at least in my experience. They’re like vanilla ice cream – they might work for most people but there’s nothing remarkable about them. The brush creator in some programs can be a little intimidating at first. Embrace your new found power and try coming up with some brushes you like and work for you. It’s part of getting your own style, and will go a long way in helping you be more efficient when sketching digitally.
4. When in doubt, rough it out
If you’re struggling to get that idea out digitally and frankly you’re having a ham fisted day, it doesn’t hurt to take some time to return to the familiar and rough out your design intent on paper. Don’t waste time trying to make it right the first time either. Build layers, scratch and scribble if you can and build a rough framework for the sketch.
5. Work smarter and harder
Practice makes perfect, but also practicing how to work smarter makes perfect. Stop and think for a sec – I’m sketching digitally, what advantages does this medium present over sketching with pen and paper? It’s simple really. For one, it’s easy to make quick, non destructive design iterations using layers in a sketching package. It’s also easy to quickly integrate the use of CAD as a tool or guide for proportion. Using reference without printing is also another advantage. The point is, find what digital tricks work for you, and start to work them into your sketch process. In the long run, you’ll find that those tools you put in your toolbox as you practice will go a long way.
If you have any other suggestions, leave a comment below or share them in the forums! Happy sketching.