Beginners Guide to Digital Painting & Drawing with Paintology
If you are new or an avid user of the Paintology drawing app available for your Android phones and tablets, you will find this post very instructive.
Digital drawing & painting is not as hard as many people make it out to be. This is partly due to the many apps and software supporting drawing for the digital platform. I have written an informative post on the evolution of digital drawing which will explain some of the ways people use digital apps and software. Below is the link.
It is unfortunate that the evolution of digital drawing versus drawings and paintings done with the traditional mediums took very different paths. In essence, the digital mediums should be fundamentally thought of as another medium in the same league as watercolor, oils, acrylics, pastels, charcoal etc. However, this was not the case, when the digital medium was first discovered a few decades ago. At that time, it was driven and matured not by artists but by it’s use for it’s capabilities in web graphics, illustrations etc. The crop of web artists, graphics illustrators were not from an art background but more from their technical prowess with the computer and hence the demand for functions and features grew from the mindsets of these groups of people. They did not see it as an extension of another art medium but more to serve the demands of the growing world wide web for logos, graphics, illustrations etc.
As the drawing applications and the hardware became more advanced, it was apparent that the digital painting medium could be potentially used to create digital art. As a result most of the artistic works are heavily dependent on these tools which were originally developed for the burgeoning internet/web market.
The mindset of digital drawing & painting are shaped by the evolution of the products and the artistic work created by these tools and software. Understandably, most people have come to understand digital painting & drawing based around the way artists presently use these tools.
It is one of the reasons why many people still push the graphics tablet hooked to a PC as a means to get into digital painting. They also assume that digital drawing apps and software should come bundled with the sophisticated digital tools to do any form of artwork in this medium.
This had the negative effect of putting off most traditional artists as they assume that a technical mastery is required to do any form of digital painting or drawing. This fact is a myth and is explained in my article on ‘breaking down the six myths of digital drawing’ (link below). I will show you these myths with many examples of ‘my own’ digital drawings and paintings later in this article.
In essence, my work in the digital medium has demonstrated that the long tradition of artistic endeavors can continue even into the digital medium.
There is no doubt that the digital medium is powerful but this medium needs to be understood properly in the context of art created in the traditional mediums.
I have been fortunate to be an artist and very technical at the same time. You could say I possess a strong left and right sided brain! This has allowed me to marry the two qualities together to produce a drawing app unlike anything on the market. The app as you have guessed is the Paintology drawing app available from the Google play store. You can find more information at the end of this post.
The act of creating art while building an app around this activity, has made me think more deeply the divide between digital and traditional drawing. It is only recently that I got a better understanding of many of the misunderstood topics centered around digital drawing and painting. As I was building the Paintology app, I was influenced by my artistic ability in drawing and painting learnt from the traditional medium and implemented it into the Paintology app. The aim was to bring an app to market that is an easy transition for any traditional artists or anyone who wants to learn digital drawing & painting.
I think I have managed to bring a product that is unique and addresses many of the sore points of digital drawing & painting that has been hindering people so far.
Throughout the development of the Paintology app from about four years ago, I was trying to show newcomers the value of digital drawing with the Paintology app. It has now become apparent why many people were not appreciating the medium for what it truly was. With the abundance of phones and tablets that many people possess, now is the time for anyone to get into drawing and painting with this medium. However, their lack of enthusiasm and hesitation are somewhat set back by the bloated software and complex hardware present today. As explained earlier this was derived from a different usage rather than cater to the art community.
Naturally the thinking of digital painting & drawing have been fashioned by the state of the present drawing and painting software/hardware and the artworks produced by digital artists. As explained the digital artists lean heavily into the use of the functions and features to make their art creation and most digital artworks always have a similar look and feel.
As you can imagine, it is an uphill struggle for someone new to enter this market with this prevalent mindset of doing digital drawing and painting. I had some interesting comments on my YouTube channel on the subject of drawing on the Paintology app where a user was dumb founded for not having the layer features in the app. It was only when I explained the real necessity of having layers with examples that they could not offer any explanation. Most folks who get into digital drawing and painting have taken many of these tools for granted.
You may find the following post below of interest since it compare the traditional vs digital painting & drawing.
One thing you need to understand. I do not put down all the features that have become the de-factostandard of many drawing apps. ie. pressure sensitivity, layers, color fill, blending, line corrections etc. I am actually a proficient user of Photoshop and Gimp and also have a graphics tablet hooked to my PC. However, I don’t use it for drawing, I use it for graphics work, logo development, image manipulation etc. These are necessary work that I do to promote the Paintology website with the graphics, icons for the app, image content for the Paintology app etc. The apps and software will always serve a purpose for certain way of doing art but in the context of real artistic work, we are all missing the most important way of working with the digital medium. Somethings that has evolved throughout history in traditional mediums can still apply to the digital medium. I talk more on this most important topic later.
For drawing, I use my phone and tablet. I have used a number of tools to draw with including, ibis, Sony sketch, procreate and a few others. Naturally, many come crammed with digital drawing tools that I described earlier but I do not make use of those additional tools except for the brush, size adjustment and color changes to do artistic works.
Any new user will gravitate to these tools since others are making use of it also to create drawings. They will inevitably create artwork based around these tools unless someone comes along and shows them a different way of doing things.
As indicated before, one does not have to make use of these tools and can work with only the brush and just selecting colors to produce good drawings.
The big question arises as to how can anyone possibly make digital art without these tools. I have demonstrated this time and time again and many are lost for words how I created drawings of this caliber with only the basic tools. I can do this because I can translate my drawing and painting skills learnt from the traditional mediums to the digital medium. This means I am simply applying my artistic skills developed from the traditional medium into the digital medium. I am able to do this with good effect because I know that the digital medium is more versatile than traditional mediums when it comes adjusting the brush size and selecting colors.
When I am drawing on the digital tablet I understand the limitations of pencil and paper are surpassed by drawing on the digital medium. For example, if you compare a digital brush with a traditional brush, you get a greater benefit by the digital app and thus an increased bandwidth to make your drawings, see Table 1.
With this additional ‘control’, it means that we can make drawings far more precise and to our expectations than the equivalent traditional drawing.
Let us look at a couple of drawings to show you how one takes advantage of this increased versatility found in the digital medium.
Gray scale frogs drawing
The frog drawing is a good example of what you can do with just one brush. Here I am able to extend the ‘shade’ brush capabilities to make this drawing. All I do is zoom in and out and adjust the shade brush along with the gray scale to make this drawing. You can watch a YouTube video of this drawing.
Colored drawing of a dog
The colored drawing of the dog was done also with the shade brush tool and selecting the appropriate colors. The line brush was used to do the collar and developing the higher contrasting images such as the eyes.
Here is the video of the actual drawing.
From the two examples provided, we can see that a minimum set of tools were used for the drawing. This is how traditional drawings have been done for centuries and digital drawing does not have to be any different. All it requires is the development of the artistic skills to draw like this on the digital medium just like in traditional mediums. With this approach we extend the artistic skills of the traditional mediums and translate this into a medium with a higher versatility than is possible in the traditional medium. Can you imagine if all the traditional artists migrated to the digital platform and the astounding pieces of artworks that can be produced and enjoyed by many! We may very well witness drawings and paintings at another level that has never been seen before.
To get more ideas of drawing in this way, please check out the drawings and paintings with the Paintology app on my YouTube channels below.
The missing bridge between Traditional vs Digital Painting
In classes with traditional materials, there are many tutors who teach the fundamentals of drawing and painting. Most of these skills are based around the limited set of tools to create the effects on the canvas or on paper. In the same way, we can teach the fundamentals of the digital way of drawing and painting using the Paintology pencil drawing app.
The fundamentals required to draw well on the digital platform is not that different to traditional and some of the most important points are listed below:
- Developing drawing strokes
- Understanding tones
- Understanding color
- Perspective, form, texture and shape
- Creating depth
The Paintology drawing app has many approaches to drawing that helps you rapidly develop the fundamentals of drawing and painting in general. There are many tutorials (over 400) that have all been designed to help you acquiring these important and fundamental skills. By grounding in these fundamental skills will allow you to rapidly develop the important skills of drawing and painting. This will allow you to create unique drawings and paintings in the digital medium and only limited by your own imagination.
Developed with painstaking effort the Paintology drawing app will allow any newcomer to start drawing in the digital medium. The misconceptions of digital drawings will be removed as you go through tutorials to improve all the important skills required in drawing and painting.
The structure of the app is laid out to help beginners to get into the swing of drawing with this medium. It is important that you look into the categories of drawings based on your ability under the Video Tutorials section of the app.
The categories are divided into Absolute Beginners, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. If you are a beginner, it is very easy to be impatient and get on with just drawing and derive premature conclusions regarding the app. Have a good look around the app and decide what your goals are and think of it as going to a class and doing training on drawing and painting.
It is ok to split categories in order of levels as defined above, however, drawing should be engaging and fun. I have taken a leaf out of my own drawing and painting experience with traditional mediums and attempted to encompass it into the app.
The result of this effort has allowed me to bring a few methods and approaches to drawing. As explained earlier the digital medium is exceptionally versatile and coupled to my technical background, I was able to introduce new modes of drawing. These include the Pencil mode, Trace and Overlay mode, Paint by Numbers, Pencil Drawing and more.
The methods of drawing this way can help you to achieve rapid results in your drawing & painting skills while making the journey fun and exciting. After all drawing and painting should be all about this and depending on how passionate you are, you can take it high levels.
Below are descriptions of the modes of drawing with the Paintology app.
Paintology Trace Mode:
This technique of having a trace image where you can draw over helps you develop your drawing strokes, pick colors. Trace drawing is a technique used by many traditional artists to improve their appreciation of other artworks and to bring some of that skillsets into their own sphere.
By practicing this way of drawing with the Paintology app, it will help you get faster and comfortable with drawing on the digital medium and become more accustomed to the brushes used. You will also develop comfortable drawing orientations by rotating and zooming in and out of your drawing canvas.
Here is a good video of this approach.
Paintology Overlay Mode:
This method of drawing with the Paintology app helps you to improve drawing strokes by aligning your drawing strokes with the overlaid image.
The Paint by Numbers tutorials category of tutorials are all designed in the overlaid mode. Many tutorials are of subjects that you can paint with Paintology just like the Paint by Numbers found in real kit forms. Many people have become excellent artists after having painted with the Paint by Numbers kits. This way of painting allows artists to understand the nature of strokes and the colors used in a particular drawing. This can be important from the point of view of understanding tones, contrast etc. that can be applied to free hand drawings and paintings.
It/’s a fun and rewarding and naturally helps you to build confidence when painting in the digital medium.
Here is a good video of what you can do with Paint by Numbers.
Paintology Camera Mode:
The camera mode allows you to take an actual photo with your phone or tablet and then import this in Trace or Overlay mode. This mode of operation naturally has the benefits of the above modes but it also helps you to work with more interesting subjects of your choice. For example, when drawing portraits of your loved ones where you can trace over their actual photo and pick colors etc.
You can also get creative and make unique drawings with strokes and trying out different brushes or even creating our own. Here is post that describes some creative ways to draw a portrait.
Paint by Numbers:
The Paint by Numbers mode of drawing with Paintology is very similar to the physical kits that you can buy from any of the hobby shops. Instead of using brushes or paints, you can open up the paint by numbers template on your phone or tablet. You select the numbered colors on the bottom and go over the regions just like you would with real paint by numbers. Note, this is very different to the paint by numbers available on the google or apple stores which simply get you to click on a color to fill the region. Unfortunately, this is not going to make you a good artist and is designed only for fun.
There are many tutorials (over 100) in various subjects that you can open in your app and color over. There is something for everyone. Some of the skills developed through this method of drawing includes improving drawing strokes, understanding colors and becoming an expert with smaller details.
Here is a good example video of what you can draw on your phone and tablet. Keep in mind that the small scale phone will not inhibit your drawing since you can pinch zoom to get close to the details. It will be like working with an A4 size paper if you use a 6 inch phone.
This is a popular mode of drawing, especially with many paper and pencil artists. The pencil drawing mode will enhance your drawings skills in the paintology app and allow you to make drawings at a higher level than traditional.
You will note from our discussion on the differences of digital and pencil when comparing the nib size and selecting colors (Table 1), that the digital medium is superior. This has been demonstrated with many drawings created using this mode which you can see for yourself from the YouTube channels posted at the end.
Below is an example video of what you can do with two brushes and selecting the gray tones only to do this drawing.
Drawing and painting is intended to be fun and you will find many interesting subjects to draw while at the same time being able to see an actual video of the drawing.
When you open the Paintology drawing app, you will find many tutorials with various subjects using the several drawing modes described earlier. This enables you to rapidly develop your drawing and painting skills that will help you to tap into your creativity and create freehand works of art.
Many of the video tutorials will also have a video associated with it. This means that you can alternate between the video tutorial and your drawing which is an excellent way to learn by following.
You can find this tutorial on your phone and see the exact video of this drawing that you can follow along to. Just toggle between your drawing and the video using the provided icon.
Tutorial of the girl with an umbrella in the rain.
There are many video tutorials that are available on the Paintology app and they have all been designed to make painting and drawing fun and easy. In time, you will rapidly develop drawing skills that will help you become a great artist in the digital medium and also use these skills to other mediums like traditional.
The versatility of the digital medium allows many technologists and artists to come together and create new methods and platforms for pushing the limits of art creation in the digital medium. To give you a glimpse of what may take shape in the coming future, you can read on and decide.
Bob Ross of Digital Painting (Digital Canvas)
There is no reason why there should not be a Bob Ross of Digital Painting jus like the wonderous years of television shows with the much loved Bob Ross’s painting series. What made it appealing was that he would do those paintings in about half an hour making the whole method of painting wonderful to watch. The advances in technology has made ‘paintings’ on large digital screens possible. You don’t have to stick to small tablets of 10 inches for digital painting, you can work on large screens like the one shown below.
You can watch a video of a painting created with a 65 inch digital canvas here.
You can watch many paintings done on a 32 inch digital canvas on the YouTube channels provided at the end of the post.
Block Method of Painting
A new unique method of drawing with the Paintology painting app is called the block method of painting. With this approach of painting over an underlying image, we can create highly detailed drawings with near photo realism. This method of drawing can be used by beginners and advanced users alike. It has the ability to create highly rewarding works of art that can drive you to do more and keep your skills alive.
Here is a sample video of a drawing with the Block coloring method.
To read more on this subject, please visit the article below.
Realistic or photo realism is an area of drawing and painting that requires a high degree of skill and expertise by the artist. Since the idea is to create an artwork that looks like a ‘photo’, the mastery of the tools used in the artwork is critical for it’s success.
Fortunately, the Paintology app is excellent for creating photo realistic drawings and paintings.
Some of the features that makes photo realism easier on the Paintology app is due to design of the tools used in these types of drawing. Since photo realism can involve much drawing strokes the access to the tools that are repeatedly used are essential to obtaining better accuracy and effectiveness in the drawing. Unlike other software and drawing apps, the Paintology app has all the essential drawing skills available via one or two clicks. On many other apps the color palette requires 3 or more clicks to access and the brushes can also take that many clicks to access. This slows down the drawing speed and can affect the final result.
Having all the tools available at your fingertips rapidly increases your drawing strokes allowing you to focus on your drawing or painting.
Below is a photo realistic portrait of Taylor Swift that was done on a 6.3 inch phone with the Paintology app.
Digital drawing and painting is a very misunderstood topic and a majority of people assume that it requires technical competence to create digital artworks. The best way to look at digital painting is to assume the skills learnt in the traditional mediums can be carried to the digital medium with a minimum of tool sets.
The Paintology Drawing App takes the philosophy of building essential artistic skills that has existed for hundreds of years in the traditional medium. In this way, traditional artists can seamlessly migrate to the digital and take full advantage of the higher versatility of control and bandwidth in brush size and colors.
Once this method of making digital paintings is understood expect to see great works of art that will grace the technologically advanced displays of today such as OLED and QLEDs.
Links to the Paintology App Collections:
Paintology Drawing App (Main):
This app encompasses all the features of the variants such as the pencil drawing, paint by number and connect the dots. You can start with the app variants provided below if you prefer pencil drawing or develop coloring experience. In this way, you develop the necessary skills to do advanced drawings and tackle the tutorials under that category.
Pencil Drawing App:
If you love pencil drawing, you will like this app. The Paintology pencil drawing app allows you to make rapid pencil drawings easily and only increases your drawing skills further.
Paint by Numbers App:
If you have ever tried the Paint by Numbers that comes in kit form, you will love this app. The app works in much the same way as the real kits allowing you to select colors and paint small regions. There are over 100 paint by numbers tutorials for you to try where you can color and learn drawing whilst having fun!
Connect the Dots App:
The Connect the Dots app by Paintology offers newbies to have fun joining the numbers to create the final drawing. Once done, you can use the coloring tools of the app to make a creative drawing unique to you! Try the many connect the dots examples to learn drawing and coloring fast.
The digital medium is an exciting medium for drawing and painting. There are many misconceptions by traditional artists and beginners regarding this medium and I have tried to break down these myths. Hopefully you can now go away with more insight to what digital drawing is all about and become one of the many contributors to art as has been for hundreds of years with traditional art.
Ferdouse Khaleque is a serial entrepreneur who loves everything tech and creative. He is presently working on expanding and supporting the Paintology line of apps for artists who want to learn in this medium and continue to expand their creativity. You can check out some of his other social sites from the links below.
If you want to contact Ferdouse Khaleque, the quickest way is to post on the Community section of the Paintology App and create a post putting hashtag #ferdouse.