Why I Create Digital Art

My Journey from being a kid with crayons to producing illustrations for children’s books! by Ryan Law

Can you think of the first artistic thing you did? Or your kids even? You were probably given a piece of paper or a coloring book and a box of crayons, right? Well, . . . that’s how my art journey started: with a box of crayons.

On occasion, if my parents didn’t have a coloring book and crayons handy, I was given a blank piece of paper and a pencil. Without hesitation, my imagination would start flowing. Each line was perfect, each scribble a masterpiece. There was no worrying about if it was good or if someone wouldn’t understand what I was drawing. If asked what my creation was, I would explain—with a bit of attitude, like, hello! It’s obviously a robot riding a dinosaur trying to save a unicorn.

Then for some unfair reason, I grew up, and that uninhibited imagination locked itself in its room and didn’t want to come out. Now, I was worried about what others would think. Was that line right? Does this look like a turtle? The innocence and enjoyment of creating was replaced with dread and anxiety.

I didn’t consider myself a creative person during my later years in school. I was, however, put into Advanced Art in 8th grade because my teacher, for reasons still unknown to me, liked my cartoon drawing of a sun wearing sunglasses.

In High school, I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist. After taking a few medical and science classes, I learned something about myself: medical stuff is gross, and I’m not great at math and other science-involved things.

After graduating, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. College seemed like a good idea. But what to study? By chance, I found that Salt Lake Community College had an animation program. I have always loved cartoons, and Pixar was doing some cool things in digital animation. So, on a whim, I signed up for some art classes. This spark reignited my imagination, unlocking the door to a life of art.

At this point, my artistic door was unlocked but only slightly open. Being graded and having my work “productively” criticized wasn’t an easy thing to go through, especially when my artistic fire had just been relit. It took some time, but eventually, my skin got tougher. I learned that the criticism was, actually, productive, and my work improved.

Through my artistic and academic journey, I was able to try out a lot of different mediums. I started with graphite (pencil) drawings, did some charcoal work, learned color with acrylic painting, and sculpted with many different materials. But the classes that were probably my favorite—but also the most difficult because of the learning curve—were those in digital art.

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are the programs I learned first. I then took a digital painting class that used Corel Paint. That class was fun, but my work was terrible. I was also able to learn a little about 3D programs like Autodesk Maya and Sketchup. Although my work wasn’t the best, I learned a lot about using digital art programs.

After graduating, I wasn’t able to use the expensive programs anymore. So, through the years, I have tried out lots of different apps and programs. My two favorites, at the moment, are Artflow Studio and Concepts.

So why digital art? Well, . . . there really is no limit to what you can do in a digital medium. Art apps are getting so good that they can mimic pretty much any physical medium, and there are many inexpensive apps. There’s also no mess, the art takes up zero physical space, and you can create literally anywhere.

I love being able to pull out my phone whenever I get an idea and sketch away. I often start a sketch on my phone then move over to my tablet to finish it. The books that I have illustrated, Skimmer and Birdy: Let’s Help Nell and Beware! Be Scared!, were all created on my tablet.

My phone and tablet are pretty fancy and come with a stylus. But the beauty of digital art is that you don’t need the latest and greatest technology to create amazing work. Drawing with a finger on an inexpensive tablet with a free app is all you need.

There are also coloring book apps for kids and adults. These are great because you don’t need to create your own drawing, but it still allows creativity. When the masterpiece is finished, it’s easy to print out to frame or hang on the fridge.

So, parents, grab your kids and show them how screen time can turn into creative time with a fun digital drawing app or digital coloring book.

Here is a list of tablets and apps to help you and your kiddo’s get started in the wonderful world of digital art:

Tablets:

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

https://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/tablets/galaxy-tab-a/

Lenovo Tab M10 HD

https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/tablets/android-tablets/lenovo-tab-series/tab-m10-hd-(2nd-gen)/ za6w0180us

iPad Mini

https://www.apple.com/ipad-mini/

Apps:

Artflow Studio

http://artflowstudio.com/

Concepts

https://concepts.app/en/

Procreate

https://procreate.art/ipad

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