Ways to Create Digital Art

Panorama of some different methods I’ve tried for digital art

I want to write about different methods and software to create digital art. I won’t go into super detail, but I will include links to software for your own research. I hope this will be a useful introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about digital art.

Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid or told to write about the various software's. This article is not sponsored, and none of my previous articles have been either :-).

Mathematical Art

Fractal art is mathematical computer generated art that creates beautiful and complex images. Some free programs you can use for fractal art are Apophysis and Xaos. There is also a program called Fyre for producing computational artwork based on histograms of iterated chaotic functions (whoa!). Other noteworthy mentions are Amberlight and Flamepainter. Interestingly many digital painting software's now have procedural brushes and particle brushes based on these things.

Example of Fyre computer generated mathematical art

Kaleidoscope and Tessellation Art

You can create radial symmetry or mandala art with programs such as Corel Painter and Krita with mirror and radial symmetry tools. There are also specialised programs like Repper and Inspirit which can create kaleidoscopic art.

Image made using Repper

The only program I know of that does tessellation art is Tesselmaniac! By the same guy who created TesselMania!

Vector art

Vector art is great for making scalable images which don’t lose quality when resized and have smaller file sizes. Making vector images is a bit like doing join the dots pictures. You don’t need a tablet or a powerful computer for starting out with Vector software. Some programs for vector art are Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Inkscape and Affinity Designer (the one I use).

Vector art I made with Affinity Designer

Pixel Art

Pixel art was my introduction to digital art when I was much younger. We used to play around with Degas Elite on our Atari ST (like Deluxe Paint on the Amiga) making silly animations of Lemmings and Dizzy the Egg. Pixel art is now seen as being “Retro”. It has made a comeback in Indie computer games. It is easy to get into pixel art and you don’t need a powerful computer to do it. Specialised programs include: Aseprite and Piskel. You can also use the Gimp, Krita, Photoshop or anything else where you can zoom in and work with pixels. Hexels is another specialised software for making grid based isometric art. The latest version also does pixel art.

A pixel cat I made in Pixels

Voxel Art

Making art with Voxels is like working with 3D pixel art. Its a pretty fun way to get started with 3D art without being too technical. If you like pixel art, you will like Voxel art because it is similar other than being in a 3D work space. I only discovered Voxel art a few years ago when I came across MagicaVoxel which is free to use.

A voxel castle (lighting using Blender)

3D Art

I’ve always been in awe of digital 3D art. There are different approaches to making 3D art. One is almost like using 3D vectors with nodes and primitives and called modelling. The other is more like traditional sculpting and called digital sculpting. For great examples of 3D art look at Artstation and CGSociety. There is a big learning curve to doing 3D art, and the commercial software is expensive. 3D art is getting much more accessible due to free Open Source software such as Blender and increasing tutorials and resources.

A scene I created using Blender following a tutorial by Andrew Price

Digital Painting

Digital painting is the method I most often use myself. It’s about as close to hand drawing and painting using a computer you can get. If you have traditional painting and drawing skills, these skills are applicable to digital painting. It helps to have a pressure sensitive tablet to do it with, the cheaper versions are fine for starting out like Ugee and Yiynova. There are lots of different programs to do digital painting with, I outlined the ones I know of in my other article on the subject: Whats the best software for beginners to digital painting.

Some value and composition studies made using Photoshop and my Ugee 2150 tablet

Those are some methods to create digital art. I am sure there will be many more I either haven’t come across yet or that will be invented in the future.

Please feel free to check out some of my art and illustration at thimblefolio.com and subscribe to my newsletter for articles on process and monthly news and updates.