Digital drawing. One of my favorite things to do to make a living as an artist. When I was 15 years old, I was looking for a way to make money without getting a dang job. And that was where my new idea was born: Digital painting.
I wanted to be an artist who would sell prints of her digital paintings online on Society6. Mistake.
I didn’t want to put effort into improving my digital paintings, so I decided to offer my very first drawing for sale. Mistake. You will see my first drawing further in this post. And yes, you are allowed to laugh.
Now, 5 years later (With breaks of not drawing for a year), I have improved myself, and I became way better at digital drawing. Here is how my drawings look like now.
Psssst! You can purchase the print with background in my store!
But as always: You need to fall on your face a couple of times before you succeed. I made some BIG digital drawing mistakes. But hey, I made these mistakes, so you don’t have to.
In this blog post, I will share 5 Digital Painting mistakes you are making, and how you can fix them.
Oh, and don't forget to download my free Photoshop line art brushes. These brushes come with a free 20-minute video tutorial too to master your line art.
This blog post contains affiliate links. By clicking on some of these links, you can get a free trial, and I may receive a small commission. This allows me to continue creating content like this. Don't worry; I only recommend things I swear by.
1. Starting too difficult
This is the most common mistake, and I made it myself also. I got this drawing tablet from my grandma, and I thought that a tablet would wave a magic wand that results in me to draw beautiful art. Wrong!
Disclaimer: I am not a spoiled brat! My grandma loves Photoshopping, and she bought the tablet which she didn’t like.
So, what did I do? I tried to draw a realistic sugar skull Disney princess: Aurora.
Yes, you can laugh now. I started out way too tricky. Without even taking the effort to watch some tutorials. I know from myself that I am cocky, but hear me out: Tutorials are there for a purpose. They are here to save you time. I was 16 when I made my first painting, and now I am not cocky anymore *cough*, so now I watch tutorials online.
My tip: Watch some tutorials before you decide to start with digital painting. All those artists out there will show you how to paint, blend, and add details.
Also, try to start with something more straightforward than a Disney princess. My brushes + 20 minute video training are perfect for learning how to master your line art.
Here are some other digital painters I admire:
2. Throwing the towel in the ring way too fast
The other mistake I see people make: Giving up way too soon. Digital drawing needs practice. You won’t be a professional on the first try. If it were that easy, everyone would do it.
Let me give you a metaphor of this situation (True story).
My 10-year old sister and I wanted to play Wii sports Resorts on the Wii. It is a game where you can try all different kind of sports games. So, there was a bowling game (Which I am pro at because I played it for the past 10 years).
My sister never played this game ever in her life. The first 2 times she threw the ball, it rolled in the gutter. She was like: ‘’I don’t want to do this, I give up, etc.’’
I told her, that if you practice, you will become better. I said to her: ‘’the reason I am better in this game, is because I already played it for 10 years’’.
So, she decided not to give up, and she won. She friggin won bowling vs someone who played it for 10 years. My 10-year old sister beat me in bowling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The next game, she only scored spares and strikes. Guess who doesn’t want to play bowling again with her sister? Me. Joking, I enjoy it to watch her improve.
You get the metaphor? Practice makes perfect.
3. Using the wrong brushes
A lot of people think the quality of the material doesn’t matter if you practice your skill enough. I agree, but I also disagree. They both go hand in hand.
Buying a better DSLR won’t make you a better photographer, nor buying Photoshop brushes.
They go hand in hand. If you master photography, and you decide to invest in a better DSLR, the quality of your photos turns out way better. But, if you don’t invest in progress (Mastering your skill) and only in quality, then your photos won’t turn out as successful.
The same with brushes. You won’t be a pro by investing in brushes if you never tried digital drawing before. But they do help you improve the quality of your digital picture. A LOT.
Quality brushes will help you to add details the regular Photoshop brush palette can’t. If you want to see the quality in your digital paintings, it is time to invest in some quality brushes.
Why not download my free line art brushes to test them out yourself?
4. Not using the right software + Materials
Remember what I just said about investing in progress first, and then in quality? After you’ve invested in your progress, it is time to invest in some quality. There are some things you need if you want to become a professional digital painter. Those things are the right software and the right materials.
For digital painting, I both recommend Photoshop and Paint Tool Sai. They both have their pro’s and cons, but if I have to choose, Photoshop is my primary software for painting.
Paint Tool Sai is the perfect software for beginners. Especially when you haven't mastered line art, Paint Tool Sai comes with a stabilizer, which helps you to draw straight lines with line art.
Photoshop doesn’t have a stabilizer, but in the other hand, once you master line art in Photoshop, you learned line art in every software. You just need the right brushes for Line art in Photoshop, and you are good to go.
Also, Photoshop allows you to add your own brushes, and it has more advanced tools for digital painting which will improve your art even more. But in the other hand, those require more of a learning curve. One more positive thing: Photoshop is only $10/month.
If you want to become a professional digital painter, it is time to monetize it. A mouse doesn’t do its duty with digital painting. You need to invest in a drawing tablet. Those tablets are made for digital art, and they are more likely to help you overcome your digital painting mistakes.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to break the band and buy a Wacom Cintiq pro 13HD. Although, if anyone from Wacom is reading it, I wouldn’t say no to a collaboration or sponsorship.
I am currently using this Wacom. It is lightweight, small, comfortable to take with you, and the most important of all: It is functioning correctly!
5. Not monetizing your digital paintings
And last but not least: Creating beautiful digital paintings and not monetizing it. Why not make a hobby out of your career? But remember, practice before you sell. Remember the sugar skull Aurora? I offered it for sale, and I expected to make thousands that month (I was 15 then).
If you are good at digital painting and you want to make an extra income, why not? So, where can you sell your artwork?
Deviantart is a platform made for artists, and I LOVE it! We should be buds! But, this market is way too saturated if you want to sell your artwork. The thing is, everyone is selling it there. I don’t recommend it if you wantto make a lot of money with your artwork.
But I do recommend DeviantArt to upload your art, and to interact with other artists.
It’s the same with Society6. I have a blog post where I write why you should NOT friggin use Society6. Let me copy+paste it for you:
''First of all, the market is SATURATED as what! Every artist sells their art on Society6. And they only have the same products. Everyone can print their design on shirts, pillows, etc.
You also don’t have any interaction with your customers. You can’t convert your customers in returning customers, because Society6 owns them all. They own everything. The products, the customers, and even the products you make.
To make it even worse, if you purchase something from Society6, a logo from them is bombarded with your product.
Why should you care?
Okay, someone named Lexa bought a pillow from Selena her shop on Society6. Lexa receives the pillow from Society6. A couple of days later, she has a friend coming over. That friend asks where she got that pillow from.
Guess what Lexa answers:
‘’I got if from Society6.’’
Is this going to help Selena getting customers on repeat? No.
And the worst: Society6 only gives you a 10% cut.''
And that my friend, is why I don't use Society6
An Etsy shop + A Print on Demand store
Yes yes yes yes yes! Did I already say yes? You can open your own Etsy shop, and sell your artwork on mugs, bags, shirts, etc. Etsy is saturated, but not for artists. You are more likely to stand out on Etsy than on Society6, or when you try to sell on DeviantArt.
‘’But Chelsea, how the heck do I product those mugs?’’ You don’t. You outsource all the tasks to a company who will get a small cut when you make a sale.
Let me introduce you to Printful. Printful is a Print on Demand company which prints your work on the products you want. It is kind of the same like Society6, but you will get a higher cut, (Which you can decide yourself) and the market is not saturated. Also, you have full control over EVERYTHING!
You can integrate Printful with Etsy with just a few clicks. Then, you upload your designs on the products you want, and then you sync it with your Etsy store.
After you’ve done that, here is what happens when you get a sale:
Have I convinced you already? ;)
Those were all the mistakes you need to avoid with digital painting, and how to fix it. I hope you are more educated now than before because of this blog post. If you see improvement, make sure to post a before & after picture
And don't forget your free Line Art photoshop brushes + The 20-minute training video!
If you like this post, it goes a long way if you take 30 seconds, and pin this blog post on Pinterest. It would mean the world to me.
What is one thing you have improved on digital painting? I would love to know. Leave a comment!
Lots of love,
PS. I would be stoked if you joined my FREE Facebook group The Artist Lounge!