How to Join the World of Digital Art Without Breaking the Bank

This week’s post is going to be something a little different. Jonathan wanted to give back a little and talk about getting started in the world of digital art, and how you can do it without breaking the bank.

With so many new artists moving over to digital it can be quite daunting when trying to choose the right hardware and software for the job. So this week I wanted to recommend some options that’ll let you create incredible digital artwork without tying yourself into costly subscription plans or delving deep into your wallet for the latest hardware.

Choosing the right software

If the cost of Adobe Creative Suite is a little out of your price range, there are a number of amazing alternatives out there that’ll help you get started for free or for a small one off fee with free lifetime updates.

Kiki, Krita's anthropomorphic cybersquirrel mascot
Kiki, Krita’s anthropomorphic cybersquirrel mascot
Artwork by Tyson Tan

On the free end of the spectrum you have Krita, an open source digital painting platform with a whole host of incredible features. From drawing assistant tools, mirroring tools, layer management, to PSD support, Krita is an incredible solution for anyone looking to get into the world of digital art and wants to test the waters before committing financially to other painting software. You can download the latest version of Krita for Windows & Mac free today at https://krita.org/en/download/krita-desktop/.

Paintstorm Studio is a relatively new option for digital painting software.
Paintstorm Studio is a relatively new option for digital painting software.

Another incredible piece of software, which is relatively new, is Paintstorm Studio. Paintstorm Studio is packed with features including customisable brushes, colour mixer, colour blending while painting, perspective painting, and also includes PSD support. Paintstorm Studio has a very similar feel to Corel Painter and has an incredible price tag of only $19 for a single licence or $29 for a two PC licence. Paintstorm Studio is available on Windows, Mac and Linux at http://www.paintstormstudio.com/buy.html.

An honourable mention for painting software is MediBang. This is another piece of free software currently on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

For anyone looking to get into graphic design and photo editing, and you don’t want to commit to subscriptions for Photoshop or Illustrator, you might want to consider Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Each piece of software costs just £48 UK, a one off fee with free lifetime updates. Each piece of software is packed with features that’ll continue to improve over time as Affinity roll out their free updates. A free trial is available to download for Windows, Mac and iOS users, and there are a whole host of tutorials online to help you get started. Check out https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/ today to get started!

Choosing the right hardware

When it comes to graphics tablet and pen displays there are a wide number of options to choose from. Again, if you don’t want to break the bank there are a number of companies all working to develop technologies that equal the quality that Wacom is well known for. The companies developing these technologies include Huion, XP-Pen, Gaomon, Ugee, and Parblo. Each of these companies have a wide variety of pen tablets and displays available at incredibly low prices.

XP-Pen Deco 01 Tablet
XP-Pen Deco 01 Tablet

Quite recently I decided to replace my older Wacom Intuos 3 A5 graphcis tablet with the XP-Pen Deco 01, a 10″ x 6.25″ x 8mm wired graphics tablet with a battery free stylus with 8192 levels of pen pressure. I was incredibly blown away by the quality of this product, and I was blown away even more by the price of the device. At just £62.99 UK (approx $88.48 US/ $111.84 CAD) I received a product that is almost equal in quality and features to that of Wacom’s Intuos Pro Medium. For any starter digital artist this is a tablet worth considering, and just recently XP-Pen released a wireless alternative, the Deco 3 at less than £100 UK on Amazon. For more information on the Deco range, check out the following link https://www.xp-pen.com/goods/lists/catid/118.html.

It’s definitely worth checking out product reviews on Youtube when it comes to the alternative brands as you’ll be surprised at the quality and value packed into the “budget” / alternative brands compared to Wacom.

I hope this weeks post has been useful for anyone looking to get started in digital art, especially if you want to produce artwork for tabletop game developers or even your own projects. I hope some of the suggestions above help you to find software and hardware that provide a lot of value help you get started on your digital journey.

Until next time, keep being creative, and have fun!

Another huge thanks to Jonathan for this week’s post. If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you. Until next time, happy designing.

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