Super sorry if this is a bother! I was just wondering if you had any general tips for digital painting or linework (your sketches look absolutely amazing- I love the variety in line weight you use). Not so much 'how do I do this' but rather 'what do you personally find helpful', if that makes any sense. Either way, you have really really breathtaking work and it makes me feel totally inspired and motivated☆ Thank you for your time, I hope you have a nice day!
i’m not sure if i’m qualified enough to answer this, but i’ll try. (very, very long post ahead)
things to check and to do right away if you haven’t.
- calibrate or otherwise check your monitor’s display settings! you don’t want to realize afterwards that everything you drew was red tinted or something equally strange (at least this is fixable). things like “movie” or “game” display modes toy around with your constrast and color balance, which is particularly jarring when you find out that what seemed like a nice grayscale image to you actually looks like a black silhouette to someone else.
- make sure your tablet is mapped correctly to your screen! i’ve run into a fair number of people who didn’t realize that their tablet wasn’t mapping to their screen’s aspect ratio properly (“oh, so that’s why drawing a circle was so hard”, etc).
- set your tablet pressure to something reasonable! trying out some people’s tablets (surface, etc) is a joy sometimes - not so much when getting to 100% pressure feels like i’m going to break the screen. the opposite is also true - a light touch should not be giving me 90%. given that you can adjust the pressure response in most software you’ll end up using, make sure your tablet settings allow you to make use of the full range of pressure.
- figure out what color picker you prefer - HSV (hue/saturation/value, aka the square) or HSL (hue/saturation/lightness, aka the triangle). you might be surprised at how intuitive one feels over the other, depending on how you work. *you can elect to use the RGB sliders if you’re some kind of a savant.
- make sure your workspace is ergonomic! you’ll be hitting the stylus/tablet and be camping in front of your screen for a long time, and you don’t want it to affect your health. carpal tunnel and its associates are not a joking matter.
now, general advice.
- learn your tools. try out everything you can get your hands on, and find out what you like the feel of. some people do their linework or painting in SAI, others in Photoshop, CLIP Studio, Krita, FireAlpaca, SketchBook… the list goes on and on.
- figure out what your tools can do for you. find out how things work: how each brush setting affects what it does, what your commonly used hotkeys are, how your workflow should go, what each blending mode does, the difference between density/flow and opacity, etc.
- try out whatever neat features are available in your software of choice. the multitude of adjustment and editing tools in Photoshop, the linework quality-of-life features in CSP, the rather unique behavior of the “marker” tools in SAI, etc.
- remember that even while working in digital, some things don’t change. the technical skills you will rely on remain the same - draftsmanship, color theory, composition, perspective… you know the drill. read books, observe others, and practice. never forget that good tools are useless if you don’t have the skills to take advantage of them.
- come in with no preconceptions. no, free transform isn’t cheating. using stabilizer S-7 is not something to make fun of people for. what matters is the end result - what you tried to achieve, and what you actually achieved. tools are tools, and there is no virtue inherent in doing something the hard way for its own sake**.
**in an ‘artistic’ sense there is, but practically speaking no one will care enough to find out if you drew that straight line freehand or with a ruler.
- reference early, reference often. remember, you’re already on a computer, and the internet is just an alt-tab away. anything you don’t understand, look it up. how does metal look like when light shines off it? how do i draw those funny curves in the ear? what the hell does tree bark look like? and so on. your imagination is important, but if you don’t feed it, it won’t have anything to work with*.
*”Fiat Lux”. to be able to make something out of nothing is to be unto God**.
**i refer here to the God of Judeo-Christian tradition because even the gods from other religious traditions didn’t or couldn’t make things out of nothing.
- save all the time. it’s easy to forget to save for hours at a time… until you get blue-screened or surprised by windows update in the middle of the night. with software features like automatic backups in CSP, there’s really no excuse to not do so. you really don’t want to be trying to figure out how to get back to where you were from an waifu2x-upsized tiny screenshot you took to show someone your WIP.
- flip or invert your image to double-check if you got your proportions, etc. correct. it’s easy to get blinded to these things as you are working on them, as your brain sometimes gets too used to what it’s looking at*.
*there is, however, a caveat to this. note that compositionally, certain things work because they face a specific direction. this has been known in artistic psychology for quite a while - whether something is left-facing or right-facing has a strong effect on how you perceive or look at a picture. flip, fix, and then flip back. don’t dwell too long on it in reverse or you might break your composition.
- be extra careful when you break things out into layers. lining your sketch layer or painting away something important by accident is a common and very distressing experience. don’t let it happen to you!
- thumbnail! before embarking on a complex piece (or any you intend to take to completion), do many little compositional drafts so that you know for certain you want to take it in a certain direction. digitally, you have the great advantage of being able to upsize the thumbnail and continue working on it, so don’t get caught realizing your composition isn’t working just as you’re putting on the finishing touches.
- in the same vein, it may be (extremely) helpful to try visualizing things with a posing program (e.g. DesignDoll) or a quick 3D mockup in Sketchup or the like to figure out how things should look in perspective. the tools are there. use them as and when you need them.
- look at other people’s work, what do they do and whether it works (and of course, whether you like it). find out how they do it and whether it works for you. techniques are always nice to appropriate*, and might come in useful some day.
*this is also known as theft to some people, but there’s really no shame in that**.
**“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” - Isaac Newton. our understanding of things are built on the understandings of other people. my technique is built on someone else’s technique, and his on someone else’s before him. take it, use it, make it your own, and build on it. and when the time comes that someone asks, pass it on.
- finally, if you want to know certain things, ask 'how do I do this’ to someone who you want to learn it from, instead of 'what do you personally find helpful’. i know it sounds a bit direct and awfully specific, but it’ll often get you a better answer to something you’re looking for than a fluffy general one like this.
feel free to ask if you have any other questions - it’s hard for me to answer things that are actually about drawing if they’re not specific enough! hope this helps.