Retro Digital Art: How to Start Drawing Digitally

by Dustin Lee June 21, 2021

Retro Digital Art: How to Start Drawing Digitally

Gandhi once said: “Until you make it, why not fake it?

Okay, maybe Gandhi didn’t say that. But he definitely said: “an ounce of practice is worth a thousand words,” and this totally translates into learning how to draw digital art.

So, if you’re wondering how to start digital drawing with retro digital brushes, we’ve got just one thing to say: start practicing!

Who are we kidding? We could talk about retro art all day; we’re obsessed! Which is why we’ll walk you through how to start drawing retro art digitally. That way, you can start creating unique pieces of work with the hand-sourced vintage tools designed to make the entire process a walk in the park.

01. Get Your Digital Drawing Ducks in a Row

Duck One: Learn the Basics of Drawing

Depending on where you’re starting in your drawing journey, setting a foundation with the basics of drawing and sketching is going to benefit you greatly in your journey of how to draw digital art, whether you start on paper or jump right to your screen with pressure-sensitive stylus in hand. There are plenty of free guides online aimed at teaching you the basics of drawing, so if you’re completely new to the art world, we recommend starting there.

Sketch created using a Dry Gouache Brush found in the Mid-Century Brush Pack for Procreate.

Duck Two: Pick Your Digital Device

There are pros and cons to using desktops, laptops, iPads, tablets, and smartphones. Choosing the one that’s best for you will depend on what you want to get out of your work.

For instance, a desktop or laptop is going to give you a bigger screen to work with, and more storage to keep your work. An iPad, tablet, and phone allow you to work from literally anywhere, and you can store work on a cloud, but you’ll be giving up screen size. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it, just what’s best for you.

Duck Three: Choose Your Digital Art Software

If you’ve got the basics of drawing down and you’re new to the world of drawing digitally, we recommend choosing one digital art software to work with at first. This will help you learn the quirks of your program without getting overwhelmed with gesture controls that differ between drawing software.

Some of the most popular digital drawing software available today are:

To make your life easier, many of our era-specific brush packs are available as Procreate Brushes, Photoshop Brushes, Illustrator Brushes, and Affinity Brushes so you can choose a platform that works for you while accessing the best digital retro drawing tools designed to work for it. Heck, we even created how to install videos for a bunch of different stuff, like:

02. Pick an Era, Any Era!

“Retro” and “vintage” are broad terms used to describe anything from the past, like Dad’s windbreaker from the 90’s, or your favorite tattered and torn comic book from when you were 10. But when it comes to digital brushes, many packs are created with a certain nostalgic, retro theme in mind. For instance...

The IndustryPress brushes bursting with 19th century inspired lines and texture brushes are going to deliver a completely different look and feel than our Paper Boy Comic Book Paper Textures or DupliTone Halftone Brushes.

Midcentury-inspired art created by Illustrator & Designer Lori Rudolph using RetroSupply’s Black Magic Halftone Brush Pack for Illustrator.

This isn’t to say you can’t experiment with different styles of retro art or mix tools from one brush pack with another, but when first learning how to draw digital art (especially retro digital art) it helps to narrow down the period or style of retro art you want to create, then choose a brush pack dedicated to the distinct art styles of that era or style. This will help you master the distinctions and details of that specific art style so your own retro digital art doesn’t scream amateur hour. Plus it makes mastering the art of learning things like How to Sketch Like a Comic Book Artist even easier.

How to Sketch Like a Comic Book Artist by Robin Banks

Some of our most popular era and design-specific brush packs include:

The list goes on, and we encourage you to explore the dozens of brush packs specific to your software to find an era or art style that makes you giddy with excitement.

03. Watch & Learn [From the Best]

There’s a slew of digital artists and illustrators across the world wide web who reveal how they do what they do, and may even be the reason you fell in love with retro digital art in the first place. That’s why when it comes to getting started with retro digital art, the best way to fuel your fire and learn the tricks of the trade is by watching the best in action.

To make this possible, RetroSupply shares weekly Instagram tutorials with some of the best digital Illustrators out there to show you exactly how they create their retro digital art, from the first sketch to final touches, and post plenty of how-tos and tutorials to our Youtube channel!

There are also dozens of digital drawing tutorials to help you learn how to create retro digital art on your respective drawing software, and so many of our bundles and brush packs come with simple tutorials for setting up and using the different brushes in each pack. You’re going to succeed, damnit!

04. Keep Practicing

Sorry toots, there are no shortcuts here! If you want to compete with the best, (or at least improve your art) you’re going to need to put in the work. Luckily RetroSupply makes it stupidly simple to download and learn how to use our digital brushes so all you have to do is focus on getting better.

Here’s an unsolicited piece of advice: If you want to learn how to start drawing digitally, JUST. START. Put one metaphorical foot in front of the other and start today. Good things take time, and learning how to draw digital art is a talent anyone can possess so long as they keep practicing. You’ve got this, and RetroSupply is here to help you through the entire process!






Dustin Lee
Dustin Lee

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