Creating high quality digital art / photo manipulations is a very complicated task. Excitement, apprehension, fear and hope are a few emotions that spring into mind when you are planning your latest artwork.
If you are starting a new piece of art then fear may be the leading emotion, so in this article we will aim to put your mind at ease. The steps I’m going to outline will ensure that your finished artwork, will be as great as your initial thoughts. Plan twice and produce once.
I’ll never forget the first time that I planned a piece of digital art back in 2011. I had just finished college and was ready to indulge in the world of digital art and photo manipulation. Although it seemed simple, in reality, I knew that it was more difficult than it seemed. But being naïve was easier than being realistic.
In the following years I produced various artwork before hanging up my creation boots and moving into art direction. I had some great experiences and also some great failures. It’s these experiences that have help me put this guide together, just for you.
The reason why I’m outlining these experiences is to show the various outcomes of producing digital art. In reality you will swap and change, start from scratch and generally be overly critical of the work you produce. This is a normal instinct built within all humans, so don’t worry about it. It’s only because you want to produce the best results.
One of the most important things I learnt is to start planning your artwork with a checklist. Think of it as a winning recipe, that you can reuse once you have the winning formula. Having a checklist will make it much easier to start baking great designs in no time at all. Think of this article as my version of the checklist. I’ll show you all the ingredients to produce delicious digital art.
So let’s get started, grab a pen (or open notepad you tech lovers) and get ready to start creating stunning digital artwork from scratch.
Ingredient #1: Current Trends
The first ingredient is current trends. Although it’s not always the case, it’s great to consider what is currently trending in the digital art world. You want to be seen as an innovator and a producer of great art. Not someone who produces artwork a year too late. This also helps when pushing your artwork to the world. Using current trends will mean your art is more likely to be seen by people searching Google and sharing your work.
There tools to use to analyse current trends are…
Behance has one of the largest collections of digital artists from around the world. Some of the greatest artwork ever produced is displayed on Beahnce. The great thing is, Studios also upload their artwork to the site, this allows you to discover the work of not only individuals, but also professionals and industry leaders.
Simply navigate to https://www.behance.net/. From the homepage select All Creative Fields, from the drop down find Digital Art.
Once you have set the category correctly, you can then further refine your search by Featured, Most Appreciated, Most Viewed, Most Discussed and, Most recent
- Deviant Art
Deviant Art is geared towards individuals, with a more relaxed approach (Compared to Behance). Deviant art has a great sense of community with artists unloading progress shots as well as completed pieces. Comments are encouraged and often include the artists input and responses.
Simply navigate to http://www.deviantart.com/. From the homepage select Browse and then select Digital Art from the left hand navigation.
After you have filtered content to digital art, you can then refine your search by Newest, What’s Hot, Undiscovered and Most popular by time Frame. Select Popular all time to show the best artwork on the Deviant Art site.
When analysing Digital art trends you need to ask yourself these three questions:
Do the current trends match my idea? If you find loads of artwork similar to your idea, then it’s clear this may not be the best artwork to create. In theory you will be creating art that has already been produced. If your idea is similar but has its own unique features, then great, you are on the right track.
Has my idea already been produced? This should be obvious, if there is art that is very similar to your idea then you should avoid creating this art. You don’t want to be labelled a “copycat”, and you certainly don’t want to be accused of plagiarism.
Do I need to make any changes to my Idea? After your current trends analysis, you should consider making subtle changes to your idea or incorporating current techniques / trends. This will ensure your art is unique but also captures the attention with the inclusion of current techniques.
Ingredient #2 Powerful USP
You USP, or unique selling point, is what distinguishes you from your competitors. In other words, why is your art different (and hopefully better) than other artists producing Digital Art? You may not realise, but each piece of art you create is also a great advert for your services. The aim is to attract new potential customer, what better way than to create stunning artwork, with your unique stamp.
When it comes to Digital Art, there are three important steps to consider with your USP
Your USP should make your art clearly distinguishable from the rest! Think of your favourite artist > Now think about their style > Now think about specific elements of their style > (Light Bulb comes on) You realise that you like that artist because you like their USP. Your art should have the same effect.
A new technique, that could be good! Think about the point above and how each piece of art has similar elements. Well that’s no mistake, the artist will have specific techniques to create that effect. Creating your own unique technique is a sure fire way to creating unique digital art.
Be bold, don’t be shy! Art is about expression, don’t hold back on your USP, be bold instead. Create that elaborate, complicated, impossible, ground breaking digital art that you have in your mind. You won’t regret it.
Great, the above points all make sense, but how do I create a USP?
First you need to focus on you, your core strengths and what you can do better than other digital artists.
Secondly, talk to people about your existing work, it will soon become apparent what part of your artwork is most liked. From there you can take the feedback and build upon the foundations. This step should be ongoing, feedback and refinement = constant improvement and development.
Thirdly, analyse your favourite pieces and identify their USP’s. This will help clarify the thought’s you have and lock down your own USP.
Ingredient #3 Software
Tools/Software – What use is a builder with no tools? It’s vital to ensure that you are using the correct tools to produce your specific work. If your reading this article, then the chances are you already have these tools installed, configured and ready to go (likely Photoshop). However, when was the last time you searched the market? Are there any additional tools that could speed up your process? Are there mobile tools that you could utilise on the move?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We have compiled a list below of the best tools for you to use.
Ingredient #4 Irresistible Message
What message are you going to be delivering with your artwork. We all love art that we can relate to, is your art going to have this effect.
Picking a topic that is close to your heart is a great place to start. Great artwork with a positive message is a sure fire way to get noticed. Eric Johansson is a great example of this. Each piece of art he creates is delving a powerful message. Viewing Erik’s artwork with get your brain thinking rather than just admiring skill.
When delivering a message, you need to believe it yourself. No one likes a faker. Think of something close your heart, something you have experienced or been through. This will also help you when you come to promoting your work (We will talk about this later in the article).
3.Take the Risk
Don’t be worried / scared about the message you are going to be delving. As referenced above the message should be important to you, so you should feel happy to express your feeling. And don’t underestimate your initial thoughts and instinct. Take the risk and produce the artwork YOU want; you won’t regret it.
As spoken about earlier in the article, the current trends could also influence your message. Maybe it’s Christmas time and you go with a snow theme. Although, it’s great to be current, be aware that you may limit your audience. Have a more global message such as Global worming will be better received all year round.
Ingredient #5 Stock Images
Better stock images mean, better quality, and less wasted time on improving and enhancing bad images.
And there is one more important job, you need to make sure that you can freely uses the stock images in your work. Licensing is beyond the scope of this Article but a simple Google search will give you some great results. As an artist you should understand licensing, so take some time to get familiar, it will help you in the long run.
Picking stocks is often over looked and rushed through quickly. If you spend more time getting the best quality stocks, you will spend less time in Photoshop wondering why your composition doesn’t look correct. TAKE the time to find the best stocks. Who knows, you may find images that improve your original idea.
Where to find stock images? There are many websites that have free high quality stocks, we have outlined a few below.
Uplash – Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.
Picking the best stock images can have a huge impact on the final look of your digital art. Make sure to take your time and pick wisely. Enjoy the process as this is the start of your creation!
Ingredient #6 Composition
The composition is where you need to begin. You need to seriously consider how you want your artwork to look before you go ahead and start creating. You may also want to create a rough composition in full to make sure you like the final result.
Phlearn have a great tutorial which demonstrates how to create a quick composition to visualise your final idea. I would definitely recommend watching Phlearn’s video tutorial.
How to create compositions is beyond the scope of this tutorial, however, there are many websites out there which give great tutorials and courses on this subject. It’s not an easy topic to master, but with practice and time the techniques will become ingrained in your memory.
Don’t be nervous, be positive. Watch and read some tutorials and you can get started with your digital art compositing.
Ingredient #7 Signature Signature Signature
Think about it, when a chef produces a recipe, it has their name all over it. You should make it clear to people viewing your art that is it YOURS/ There are a lot of people online who will imitate your art so having people connect your name with your art can help you massively in the long run.
Add your signature to your art, and make sure it’s not easy to remove. Don’t impede on the art itself, but make sure no one can easily take your work and remove your signature.
Ingredient #8 Fresh eyes
This is a simple but often effective technique. Simply get someone who’s opinion you value to take a peek at your artwork. “Fresh Eyes” often see things that you have missed. Inconsistencies and differences in your design. Fresh eyes will look at your work form a logical perspective. Us humans are naturally critical, so be prepared for some challenging suggestions and comments.
Ingredient #9 Promotion
Get your artwork online – The first step to promoting your artwork is having your artwork online. There are a number of sites to post your art, so why not be a member of them all. The following sites are all great places to submit your artwork.
@Manipulationclan – Manipulation Clan is our Instagram account dedicated to sharing the best digital art and photo manipulations. Submit your artwork to our feed to reach a potential 300,000 users a week.
Inspiration Clan (Recommended) – Inspiration Clan is a great place online for artists. Not only do you get your own personal portfolio and blog. They also have great courses and tutorials available to help you develop as an artist.
Deviant art– We have mentioned Deviant Art a couple of times already in this post. That’s because deviant art is the biggest art site in the world. The deviant art community is huge and one that is defiantly worth joining.
Art Station – ArtStation is the showcase platform for games, film, media & entertainment artists.
Behance – Behance is seen as the place for “Professional” artists. You will also find studios and professional services on Behance. Less personal but more professional, definitely worth a visit.
There are plenty other places where you can manage your artwork online. However, the above sites should have you covered.
Start Writing a Blog – Blogging is a great way to draw attention to your creations. If people like you and your thoughts, they will like your artwork. Here at Inspiration Clan all users get a free blog with unlimited articles. Simply Sign Up here and the rest will be history! Alternatively, I would suggest Medium or WordPress. Both are a platform solely for blogging.
Create a Facebook Page For Your Art – Who doesn’t have a Facebook account these days. Creating a Facebook page is a great way to build a following as well as connect with other artist online. You can create A Facebook page through your normal login, it’s a simple process, you can find Facebook’s instructions here
Make Your Art Easy to Share – Social media is a great way for your artwork to spread naturally though different communities throughout the web. However, this is only possible if you make your work easy to share. Sounds simple, but it’s an easy mistake to make.
Enter Art Competitions – There are plenty of online competitions for you to enter. Not only could you gain great exposure you could also win a cheeky little prize in the process. Deviant holds some great competitions and is a good place to start.
Get a Website for Your Art – Stop and think about this! With so many great sites out there for you to present your work, really think if you need your own personal website. After all, it’s another thing to mage and another expense. Your own website can soon become a pain, constant updates and outdated information. They are great when done right, but just be mindful of the undertaking.
Don’t forget to Track your results – This point is not to be missed! As any marketer will tell you, how can you improve if you don’t know what’s working. Let’s say you promote your art in 5 places and you get 1000 visitors. That doesn’t mean you got 200 visits from all 5 sources.
You need to make sure you can track your audience to see what is working. When you realise what gives you the best results, you can focus more time and effort on that area.
If you do decide to make your own personal website, then Google Analytics is the best and most comprehensive way to track where your traffic is coming from.
So there we have it, the 9 ingredients you need to cook up stunning digital art! Hopefully you have taken one or 2 points from this guide and will implement them into your work flow. It’s pretty comprehensive and a lot to take in. Feel free to drop us a message below with any questions you have.
Bonus Tip – Help Another
Helping others is a great way to gain attention and build a loyal following. If you found this guide helpful, there’s a chance other people will as well. Simply click the share below and help someone today. Random honest moment: It would be a great help if you shared this article.