My Favourite Tools for Digital Illustrations

Advice

People often ask me about the apps and tools that I use for digital artwork.

If you’re new to digital illustration and interested in giving it a go, let me share my favourite tools for creating digital artwork.

1. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a must-have tool for any digital illustrator who wants to create vector illustrations.

Vector illustrations never get pixelated and can be blown up to any large size you want (as long as your computer can handle the size that you’re after!).

I always create vector artwork when I’m working on commissions for clients. This is because I want to provide high-quality images and to have the flexibility to format into whatever sizes (or types like PNG, PDF, etc.) my client needs.

I began my own digital illustration journey through Adobe Illustrator. To learn how to use the app, I found their beginner’s tutorials really helpful.

Adobe Illustrator is available through monthly or yearly paid plans. But if you’re new to Adobe Illustrator, you can try out the app on a free trial for 7 days!

2. Wacom Intuous Small

During my free trial of Adobe Illustrator, I just used my old iMac and my Apple mouse to draw.

By the time I finished Adobe’s free trial, I decided that I wanted to continue drawing, but using the mouse wasn’t a sustainable way to do it. Drawing with a mouse was both painful for my hand due to repetitive strain injury (RSI) and it took too long to draw.

I knew I wanted a drawing tablet, but I didn’t want to blow my budget either. After some research, I found that Wacom offered a great range of quality drawing tablets/accessories, and their Intuous S model was perfect for me.

Wacom Intuous S is not too big, not too small, the price is affordable (in 2018, its retail price was $140 NZD but I got mine on sale for $90!), and it does the job well.

If you’re wanting to dip your toe into digital illustrations, but don’t want to spend a fortune on tools, I highly recommend starting with the free trial of Adobe Illustrator + your computer mouse.

Then if you’re ready to take the next step, get the monthly paid subscription of Adobe Illustrator + Wacom Intuous S.

3. iPad Pro 11-inch (2018)

Sometimes I feel like drawing on the go or while lying on my bed or bumming on the couch. At times like this, my big old iMac isn’t very practical for that.

When I first started drawing digitally, I already had an iPad Mini 4 and a cheap $2 tablet pen. While this fulfilled my need to draw in any location I wanted to, it was frustrating to draw on the tiny screen, nor using the cheap tablet pen.

That’s when I decided to take the next step and invest in an iPad Pro (11-inch) and Apple Pencil. And I’m so glad I did!

Nowadays, I do all of my personal illustrations on my iPad Pro. I’ll only jump on the computer if I need to use Adobe Illustrator for client work.

Read on to find out the two drawing apps that I like to use on my iPad Pro.

4. Procreate

Hands down, Procreate is the best digital art app for iPad Pros.

I’m not sure how well Procreate runs with any other types of tablets. But Procreate and iPad Pro are like a match made in heaven.

As I mentioned, I like to create all my personal digital illustrations on the iPad, and Procreate is the app that I use every time.

Procreate has an easy and intuitive user interface (UI). And considering that you pay only once for the app (no annoying monthly subscriptions, yay!), Procreate is always offering updates and new features to all their users.

The only downside to Procreate for me is that they only support raster illustrations. Raster is the opposite to vector (as I’ve mentioned when discussing Adobe Illustrator). This means that the illustrations lose their quality and become pixelated as the file gets enlarged (or zoomed in).

Although I much prefer drawing vector illustrations, I absolutely love the UI of Procreate. This is why I use it only for personal illustrations and sketches.

5. Adobe Draw

Before I realised the magic of Procreate, and I was too cheap to pay for it, I used Adobe Draw to draw on my iPad.

Long story short, the advantage of Adobe Draw over Procreate is that it lets you create vector illustrations. And you can send your artwork straight to your Adobe Illustrator through Adobe Creative Cloud. This process is so smooth and convenient!

Another advantage of Adobe Draw is that it’s free! Yasss.

The only disadvantage of Adobe Draw is that while their UI isn’t horrible, it’s nowhere near as easy or smooth to use as Procreate.

I used to use Adobe Draw a lot when I first started digital illustrations. But since I started using Procreate, I’ve found it difficult to go back to this app.


And there you have it – my top 5 tools for drawing digitally!

Please let me know if this was helpful by leaving a comment below. Or share with me (and others) if you love to use any other digital art tools that I haven’t mentioned.


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