5 Ways to Be Confident Using New Art Supplies

5 Ways to Be Confident Using New Art Supplies

Whether you've never touched a stylus or are an old digital art pro, trying new tools can always be a little daunting. Are you going to be able to use them successfully? Are you going to get your money's worth?

Even if your tools are quality, that doesn't guarantee that you will be able to make great art right out of the gate. But that doesn't need to be a problem when you have the right mindset. We'll show you five tips to consider when using new art supplies that will set you up for success and keep you confident.

1. Know Your Software

Most software provides user guides such as the Procreate Handbook.

You'd be surprised how often artists buy tools without first understanding how their software works. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to learn a new software and new brushes at the same time.

That doesn't mean that you need to be a master. Realistically, you're never likely to use some of the features of your preferred program. Think of the software as an extension of the brushes and other tools that you'll be using. Being familiar with the basics, especially what you'll use most, will set you up for success.

2. Research Your Finished Product

The Library of Congress is just one of many institutions offering thousands of historical references.

It doesn't matter whether you're trying to recreate a historical imaging technique or a slick modern design, knowing what you want to accomplish will help keep you from getting lost in experimentation.

When it comes to our specialty, vintage-inspired artwork, it's important to stick to certain conventions. A Mary Blair styled painting is not going to have ink bleed, for example. Similarly, you don't want to layer halftones on top of something that looks like watercolor.

Playing around with your art supplies is a fun and low-stakes way to get to know your tools, but having a basic understanding of what you'd like to achieve will make things much easier when it comes to completing the finished product.

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3. Give Yourself Time to Experiment

A great way to experiment is to follow a tutorial.

There's nothing more nerve wracking than trying to finish a project on deadline when you're not confident in your tools. Getting familiar with your brushes and textures may take time, but it will save you a headache down the line. Don't leave it up to chance that everything will work the way you're envisioning.

Open a blank document and get to playing around. You don't have to make anything fancy. It doesn't have to look like anything at all. Learning how the tools work, and how you work best with them, will make everything after it much more comfortable. And, if you took our advice above and know your software, will give you time to make adjustments to settings to really dial in your preferences and keep you confident.

4. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The RetroSupply Co. support page is a great way to get common questions answered.

Many people think of a company's customer support is just for refunds, and isn't really the place to gain any meaningful assistance. But you'd be suprised how much help you can get if you go looking for it. Many companies have tutorials and help sections which can help fill in the gaps. Don't be afraid to ask for help even if you think it's an obvious question. A good company doesn't want you to feel frustrated.

See if there are groups or forums that you can turn to for help as well. More than likely someone has had your same question. Software companies such as Procreate, Adobe, and Affinity have their own forums that can teach you the basics to advanced technical help.

No matter how far along in your art career, you likely won't know everything. Asking for help and getting advice from others will get you where you're going faster.

5. Show Your Work Anyway

Instagram and other social media websites are a great way to get your work noticed.

Even the most successful artists have struggled to feel confident in their work today and through history. Matisse, for example, spent his whole life trying to find what he thought was the perfect balance of form and color.

You might find yourself in a comparison trap where your work now isn't as good as you think it could be. But the artists you admire didn't burst onto the scene with their talent now out of nowhere. There were plenty of coffee shop shows, scrap paintings in the trash can, and zines you'd never heard of before they made it big.

Let people watch you grow and give you advice. Your own biggest fans might be waiting to find you.


Getting new tools you've never tried before can be exciting, but once the retail therapy wears off, you might feel a little shaky. How do you make the most of what you bought?

Making sure that you're familiar with the software you're using and playing around before jumping in to make anything finished will help set you on the right path. Researching the finished look that inspired you to get the tools in the first place will keep you focused.

Don't be afraid to ask for help from your peers or the company that makes the tools. They'll know best how to help. And finally, even if you don't feel the result is remarkable, share it anyway! You might be surprised how much people will like it, and it will help keep you energized to make more.

Do you have any advice on how to be confident using new tools? Let us know!

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