Reflection Point: Product Design for a Digital Artist
As part of my second week at DesignLab’s UX Academy, I’m taking on a brief writing project that asks to take time to reflect on any aspect of product design.
As a hobby illustrator, I’ve grown up drawing for as long as I can remember. It started out with the habit of drawing simple cartoon characters as a child, to more life-like or complex illustrations of subjects I sought out in real life.
Sometime when I was in university, a lot of my “spark” for drawing was lost. It might have been due to lack of time or lack of inspiration, but I remember getting to a point where I’d stare down a pencil and paper and not be able to produce more than a few half-hearted wispy sketches.
My introduction to a new medium of art, digital drawing, came in the form of Procreate. I was wowed by a lot of what I’d see others do with the tool, making complex detailed illustrations, and “mistakes” could easily be corrected with the flick of a a few taps on your tablet.
I won’t lie and say every aspect and tool of the app was immediately intuitive from the start, and the transition from physical drawings to digital tablet drawings felt like “skating on ice”. But, for what it’s worth, I do feel the app was fun to experiment with from the start. Filters for blur, glitches, halftones, or color changes were easy to use via sliders. The Procreate app had a huge variety of different pens, pencils, textures, and I could easily recreate drawings that resemble a more “traditional” feel.
One of the most valuable aspects to me came with the fact that Procreate combines some of the ease of digital drawing tools and colors with the “feel” of traditional drawing. Opening up the pen tool allows me to recreate the experience of drawing as if I’m using paper, but if I were to make a mistake such as making a section too large, or wanting it to suddenly be blue instead of red, I could easily open up a lasso tool or a color selector.
Does Procreate, or other digital drawing tools, completely replace the experience of traditional art? Not necessarily, and I’d say some of that comes down to preference. While I do most of my work digitally for ease of time, it can be somewhat liberating to put down pencil to paper and just deal with “happy accidents” that occur.
At the end of the day, it’s also valuable to remember that drawing on a tablet will not make one a “better artist” if the skillset isn’t already there. But I do feel it can make the process of learning those skills much more fun and experimental.
Given the easy mobility of Procreate on a tablet, as well as the lack of a necessary subscription that some other digital art tools have, I feel that it’s revitalized at least some of my inspiration for art and looking at my progress through the gallery motivates me to keep pushing myself more.