Digital art for kids: An introduction

I am a Dad and one thing I have always enjoyed doing is teaching digital art to my kids. When they learn it’s a satisfying experience and it’s a great way to teach a cool skill that becomes valuable later in life. I will be making this blog series “digital art for kids” and in it I will cover cool ideas and techniques I use to teach graphics and games art to my students. If you want to encourage your kids into using different tools and techniques then this will be the place for you. If you like what you read in this blog then let me know, comments from you help me!

What you will need:

Digital art is great fun, but you do need tools to do this and these can be expensive. However as I said before I know how tight money can be when you are a parent. I will introduce you to some of the more cost effective approaches you can use to get your family started learning digital art.

The hardware

A graphics tablet is a must when learning those digital art skills. The model I often refer students to is the Wacom A5 tablets. These models change every year very much like a mobile phone. These can be picked up for around £40.00 to £50.00 and they have a great lifecycle, my first tablet I bought for £400.00 and it lasted me eight years before eventually I had to replace it. There are lots of other brands out there but personally I can only advocate for Wacom as its the only one I have a large amount of experience with.

The software

Next you need to think about what software you can use. Adobe Photoshop is a commonly used industry practice software but it costs. If you don’t mind paying £9.98 a month you can get the photography package and download photoshop.

But what if you don’t have £9.98 to spend? Good news is there are loads of software’s you can use for free. If your kids learn they will also be able to use photoshop due to similarities. The software I am going to suggest is Krita. Krita is completely free but is similar to Photoshop. This is a good way to get your kids started without having to spend a monthly subscription fee.

Digital art for kids: Krita logo
This is the krita logo

Getting started teaching digital art for kids:

Now you have a graphics tablet and your software is installed these are some based activities and tips to get your kids started. More complex information will come up but first there are some key things you need to know.

  • Drawing with a graphics tablet is very different to drawing on paper. It will take time and practice for your child to get used to using it. Encourage them because they might find it frustrating to begin with.
  • Encourage them to explore the package. You can’t really break digital drawing software. Exploring what they can do before they start on an art piece is really useful. Get them to write down the things they discover as this will help them to retain this information.
  • Finally don’t be afraid to learn alongside your son or daughter. Children enjoy having someone to problem solve and learn with. This way you’re involved in the fun and frustrations too!

Now we have cleared that up, lets talk about some things you should do to get the ball rolling. The best way to get kids started when learning digital art is to remove expectation. Start by encouraging them to select the brush tool on a blank canvas. From there let them draw something they like. Depending on the age of your child they might have different interests. Drawing animals, cartoon characters or imagination based creatures is a great place to start.

What does letting a student draw aimlessly do?

It allows them to focus on one skill that is hardest to develop which is hand eye coordination. When they practice this combined with mark making they will find future tutorials easier to follow as they will be able to effectively copy shape, form and structure.

If you liked this and want more tutorials on next steps to teach digital art to your children then comment below and let me know! I look forward to seeing you all in future posts.

Livestream: When and what I do when I work on one

Fish like creature I created in a livestream.

Recently I have got back into my livestream. My current platforms are Youtube and Twitch and I stream digital art. I wanted to show off some of the projects I am working on, whilst talking a bit about when and why I do it. The details of the livestream at the bottom of this post. This is more to talk about what I do and why I choose to do it.

Livestream benefits for creative work:

When I draw I find that having a livestream helps to keep me on track and engaged on the project. When working to an audience with a specific timeframe in mind it helps to keep myself. Or if you are reading this to help yourself our then you. The creator in a position where you are engaging with the target audience for your work. I find that active flow of feedback from people watching, helps a lot when working. In all will help you produce better work with the audience in mind.

Working like this is really beneficial for lots of reasons. I work to two hour blocks, in this time I can create simple designs that I can later build on. At the same time there is the idea that by doing so you are giving yourself that time. When you work on projects by yourself and without a designated time it is easier to give up or get distracted (especially if you are like me and you have three children). If I didn’t livestream they would naturally take that time. This is not a bad thing. However at the same time it is important that you can work on your craft in order to get better. Blocking in this time becomes a nice way to save that time for your own development. which in turn’ will put you in a much better mood for thiers.

So why do I do it?

This is simple, it’s fun. Well not just fun but also a great way to get valuable feedback from peers. Look, I get for some people it’s about making a livelihood, getting viewers and having lots of followers. For me it’s all about having fun and enjoying the process of designing characters, creatures and environments. I do this whilst sharing that with whoever will listen .

In my livestream at the moment. This still being early days I get a maximum of maybe 10 concurrent viewers. Maybe 30 views in my two hour schedule. Really I don’t think this is bad. In fact it’s enough people to provide me with feedback. If a design is bad then I find out about it fairly quick. I see it as a collaborative approach to concept art as I get live feedback whilst I work.

My current projects:

Currently I have completed two livestreams. Below are the wonderful creatures I created in this time.

This character is a basic idea for a game and in all would be quite interesting to see in a classic adventure game for livestream.
This character is a basic idea for a game and in all would be quite interesting to see in a classic adventure game.

The character above was inspired by an insect. The idea in the livestream was to create characters that might belong in a video game. How would these work and how to differentiate these from one another.

Fish like creature I created in a livestream.
Fish like creature I created in a livestream.

This creature above is a creature I designed after looking at pictures of a sturgeon, the idea of a prehistoric looking armored fish came across as pretty cool and it was well received throughout the livestream.

Each of these designs were completed within around one hour and forty minutes. My personal plan is to start getting these to a level where I am able to produce two or even three of these sorts of designs within the two hour space. I would love feedback and for more people to join so this is where I share the details.

I stream every Thursday evening from 21:00 – 23:00 UTC+1