Digital Art

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Digital art includes fun activities such as line drawings, photo tracing, photo painting, coloring and painting line art.  For some these activities are quite easy while for others they can be very difficult and challenging.

Luckily, we have some great software from Adobe and Corel to help those of us with little artistic skill produce some really great results and the gifted artist may even discover something interesting as well.

In addition there are some great line drawing websites where you can download free line art to paint and color - a great activity for kids of any age!

You can do your art work with a mouse or a track pad but it is very difficult and not particularly accurate.  To achieve the best results, however,  a graphics tablet like a Bamboo Pen and Touch or an Intuos makes life much easier and the end results much better.


Tracing is done by using a brush or pencil tool on a layer and then tracing an image.  Images can be traced in Photoshop, Elements, Painter and Painter Essentials.

Line Drawings

It goes without saying that anyone who can actually draw something can draw an image with a Wacom tablet and their favorite digital editing program.  Want to see what someone with artistic  talent can do with a Wacom Intuos tablet - check this out ...


Coloring with a tablet and line art is great fun. You can color and paint on your own and get your kids involved - they will love it!

All you need to do is get yourself some great line art and a simple web search will provide lots of fabulous line art!


Painting is fun and really effective with the different options available in Photoshop, Elements and Corel Painter Essentials..

So what software is the best to use for your digital art ...?


digital art firstThis is a typical line drawing that can be downloaded as black and white line art and then colored any way you like.  It's a lot of fun ...


Photoshop is the premier digital editing program and a skilled user can pretty much do anything with a digital photo.  It is also possible to do some really amazing things with digital art as well given the power of the program and the ability to download an incredible number of different and unique brushes.

With Photoshop the power lies in the ability to completely control the brushes in terms of size, shape, color and scattering.  Once you understand how to use these dynamics then coloring and tracing are easy and straightforward.  You can produce some stunning results with these dynamics.

Photoshop Elements is the pared down version of Photoshop and may be frustrating to an experienced Photoshop user.    Understanding the brush dynamics in Elements will produce results that rival that of Photoshop.


The really amazing program from Corel is Painter with the current version being Painter 11.  It's jammed full of natural media brushes that act just like their real world counterparts.

If you can draw and paint all on your own then this is the program for you.  For the rest of us it is easy to create some awesome looking artwork once you become familiar with the tools and techniques in Painter.

Corel Painter Essentials 4 is a scaled down version of the full version of Painter and is included with both the Bamboo Fun and the Bamboo Craft.

Both Painter and Painter Essentials have the ability to automatically create a painting or drawing from a photograph.

The third product from Corel is Paint Shop Pro, their flagship digital editing program currently at version X3.  When you understand how the tools work you can produce some fabulous results.

The three programs from Corel take advantage of the pressure sensitivity of the Wacom tablets. Painter and Painter Essentials have pressure sensitive brushes built right into each brush and with Paint Shop Pro each brush can be set to react to pressure.  The pressure sensitivity of the brushes is at the core of producing great digital art.

Now here is something interesting - this dragon was colored entirely with Gradients and it looks pretty good, don't you think?

It was easy to do - just select an area with the Magic Wand, grab the Gradient Tool, select a Gradient and click on the picture - then do it again and again ...

coloring with gradients


digital art mackProbably the easiest digital art to create is tracing an image with one of the aforementioned programs.

The procedure is to create a new layer, grab a pencil tool, set the opacity to change with pressure and then trace the image on the new layer.

A very similar effect can be achieved using filters in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro.

This image was traced from a picture I took of the front badge of an old Mack Truck.

The tracing was done with Painter Essentials 4 using an HB pencil.  A layer was added between the image and the tracing layer and filled with light gray and a paper surface texture was added.  

Tracing is not particularly difficult but it can be time consuming if the image is complex and it is a heck of a lot of fun as well.

Digital Inking
with Photoshop

This technique will produce fabulous results with some effort.

digital art wolf moonThe first thing that needs to be mastered is the Pen Tool in Photoshop.  Now it's not a tool for the faint hearted and may require some perseverence on your part, however once mastered it is indispensible for inking and selecting.

The Pen Tool is not as substantial as what you can do with Illustrator but it does work very well.

Pretty much any image can be inked with Photoshop - from the very plain to the very intricate. 

This one here was a line drawing on a white background that was inked in black, turned to white on a black background and then the moon was added (circle selection, filled with yellow and then Render > Clouds).

It was a fun project and there is no way that I could've done this freehand, even tracing on a new layer with my trusty Intuos 5 Medium tablet.

Take some time to learn about the Pen Tool and how to ink a picture or drawing by clicking on the wolf - you'll love it!

Let's look at more challenging types of digital art ...


Freehand drawing with Photoshop, Elements, Paint Shop Pro and Corel Painter will produce some amazing pieces of art if you have the skill.

I don't!

I'm stuck with tracing but that is OK.

For your enjoyment and amazement here are a couple of videos of some speed drawings using Wacom tablets.

Male vs Female Drawing

Male VS Female Speed Drawing
Photoshop 7, Painter IX and a Wacom Tablet

The male vs female comparison was drawn by Sycra and he is truly amazing.  This is digital art at it's finest!

If you would love to see some digital art drawn with either Corel Painter or Adobe Photoshop then check out the Artwork page - prepare to be amazed!


Coloring line art is just flat out fun and it doesn't matter if you have any artistic ability or not.

The brushes in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro have the ability to do far more than just paint lines with a round, soft brush.  By setting a few simple dynamics it is possible to bring your coloring alive.

Photoshop Coloring

thumbnail photoshop coloringYou can do some amazing things with the brushes in Photoshop.

In this tutorial you will learn about Jitter and the really cool things you can do with the Brushes Palette.

The tutorial also makes use of multiple layers as well as the Layer Blend Modes.

Click the thumbnail to learn about brush dynamics, jitter and coloring.

Photoshop Elements Coloring

thumbnail elements coloringPhotoshop Elements has both Tablet Options and Advanced Brush Options.

What these options do is allow for some wonderful and creative uses of the brushes in Photoshop Elements.

The advantage of this is that a piece of line art (like the thumbnail) can be colored using more interesting brushes than the soft round brush.

Click the thumbnail to find out about these really cool and creative brush dynamics and how to use them in a coloring project.

Paint Shop Pro Coloring

thumbnail paintshop coloringPaint Shop has this absolutely enormous Brush Variance Palette.  It allows a Paint Shopper to create some amazing brush dynamics, especially when using a Wacom tablet (Bamboo or Intuos).

The dynamics are particularly useful when one is involved in a coloring project like the little fish line art thumbnail.

Click on the thumbnail to find out how to use these great brush dynamics with Paint Shop Pro.

Coloring A Mandala

Are you familiar with mandalas?   The term has become a generic term for any plan, digital art mandalachart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically,  a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.

Coloring a mandala with Elements is a rewarding experience.  At its simplest it's an easy activity - choose a color and start painting.

To create a more interesting work of art it's useful to use a Wacom tablet, understand the Elements brush dynamics and work with lots and lots of layers.

Click the thumbnail to follow along with this interesting coloring project.


Photoshop's Art History Brush

digital artPhotoshop has this really cool brush called the Art History Brush.

With this brush you can turn any photograph into a really nice looking painting.

The actual painting is easy and quick, however the set up may take a bit more time.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to use the Art History Brush.

Photoshop CS 5 Mixer Brush

digital artThis is a new addition to Photoshop CS 5 and it is quite amazing.  

With the Mixer Brush you can paint a picture from scratch or paint a photograph.

There are a lot of really unique options available so click on the thumbnail to learn more about the Mixer Brush.

Watercolor Conversion With Photoshop

Digital Art watercolor

Converting a photograph to watercolor is a rewarding and fun experience.  This particular technique uses layers and masks and blending modes and a lot of painting with a tablet.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to do a watercolor conversion.  

Photoshop Elements Impressionist Brush

digital art impressionist brushNot to be outdone by Photoshop, Elements has the Impressionist Brush available for you.

What this brush does is turn a photograph into a painting with a variety of different and interesting options.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to use the Impressionist Brush.

Painter Essentials 4.0

digital art essentials
Digital painting with Painter Essentials 4.0 is fun, effective, and a very rewarding activity indeed.

Consider this - there are 95 different brushes available in Essentials 4.0 covering every possible artistic situation from pencils to soft sponge cloners.

You can create a wonderful work of art for your own pleasure and you can create a work of art to surprise a friend or family member.

Click the thumbnail to learn about painting with Essentials 4.0.

Digital Art


Photo Tracing

Line Drawings

Digital Inking



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