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How to Become a Digital Artist: Ultimate Step By Step Guide

October 17, 2023

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In today's digital age, the world of art has undergone a remarkable transformation. Traditional painting and drawing are no longer the only means of artistic expression; digital art has become known as a powerful and effective medium that allows artists to create stunning visuals using technologies like computer software or 3D modeling software. If you've ever wondered how to become a digital artist, and what is digital art, this comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insights and steps to hop on this exciting journey.

The Digital Art Landscape

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of becoming a digital artist, let's take a moment to understand what digital art is and why it has become such a prominent form of artistic expression.

Digital art encompasses any artwork created or modified using digital technology. This includes digital painting, 3D modeling, graphic design, animation, and more. Unlike traditional art forms, digital art offers flexibility, versatility, and endless creative possibilities. It allows artists to experiment with various styles, techniques, and tools, making it an appealing choice for both newcomers and seasoned artists.

How to Become a Digital Artist: Step-by-Step Guide

1. Get Inspired and Set Clear Goals

How to Become a Digital Artist - Get Inspired and Set Clear Goals

Before you start dreaming about being a digital artist, it's essential to find inspiration and set clear goals. Explore different types and styles of digital art, follow established digital artists on social media platforms, and immerse yourself in the digital art community. This will help you discover your own unique artistic style and motivate you to keep improving. Read more here about how to find your artistic style.

Set specific, achievable goals for your digital art journey. Whether you aspire to create concept art for video games or become a renowned digital illustrator, having clear objectives will give you direction and purpose.

2. Learn the Basics of Digital Art

How to Become a Digital Artist - Learn the Basics of Digital Art

To become a digital artist, you must master the fundamentals of digital art. This includes understanding art concepts such as layers, brushes, blending modes, and color theory. Many online tutorials and courses are available to help you acquire these skills. Websites like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare offer a wide range of digital art courses suitable for all skill levels. You can also choose to have formal education in art, but it's no more a requirement of studios, companies and art businesses. They care more about your skills than your education, so it’s possible to become a successful digital artist without a degree!

3. Invest in The Right Equipment (hardware + Software)

How to Become a Digital Artist - Invest in The Right Equipment (hardware + Software)

To create digital art, you'll need the appropriate tools. While there are various digital art software options available, two of the most popular choices among artists are Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. These programs offer a wide range of features and capabilities for digital artists.

In addition to software, you'll need the right hardware, a digital drawing tablet or a graphics tablet. These devices allow you to draw directly onto the screen, providing a natural and precise drawing experience. Wacom, Huion, and XP-Pen are some of the leading brands in this field.

4. Practice Consistently

How to Become a Digital Artist - Practice Consistently

The age-old proverb "practice makes perfect" holds true in the world of digital art. Dedicate time each day or week to practice your digital art skills. Experiment with different techniques, styles, and subjects. Don't be discouraged by initial failures; every mistake is a valuable learning opportunity. Just make sure you’re persistent, because every skill requires continuous practice and effort to be successful.

5. Learn from Others

How to Become a Digital Artist - Learn from Others

One of the most effective ways to improve as a digital artist is to learn from others. Join online communities, forums, and social media groups dedicated to digital art. Participate in critiques, seek feedback from experienced artists, and engage in collaborative projects. Constructive criticism and diverse perspectives can significantly enhance your skills.

6. Build a Portfolio

How to Become a Digital Artist - Build a Portfolio

As you progress in your digital art journey, start building a portfolio of your best work. A portfolio is crucial for showcasing your skills and attracting potential clients or employers. Make sure your portfolio is well-organized and includes a variety of pieces that demonstrate your versatility as an artist.

7. Explore Specializations

How to Become a Digital Artist - Explore Specializations

Digital art offers numerous specializations, and you can choose to focus on areas that align with your interests and goals. Some popular specializations within digital art include:

Digital Painting: Create stunning digital paintings and illustrations.

3D Modeling and Animation: Craft 3D models and bring them to life through animation.

Concept Art: Design characters, environments, and objects for the entertainment industry.

Graphic Design: Produce visual content for branding, advertising, and marketing.

Exploring different specializations can help you identify your niche and become a specialist in your chosen field.

8. Stay Updated with Technology

How to Become a Digital Artist - Stay Updated with Technology

The digital art landscape is continually evolving, with new software and tools emerging regularly. Stay informed about the latest developments in digital art technology and software updates. This knowledge will help you remain competitive in the field and open up new creative possibilities.

9. Network and Collaborate

How to Become a Digital Artist - Network and Collaborate

Networking is crucial in the world of digital art. Attend art events, conferences, and conventions to meet fellow artists, potential clients, and employers. Collaborating with other artists on projects can also expand your skills and expose you to new opportunities.

10. Market Yourself

How to Become a Digital Artist - Market Yourself

If you aspire to become a freelance digital artist, effective self-marketing is essential. Create a professional website or online portfolio where potential clients can view your work and contact you. Utilize social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to showcase your art and connect with a broader audience.

Follow these steps to become a digital artist for free. Every person has their own set of skills and learning abilities which can affect how much time one takes to become a professional digital artist. 

How To Start Earning As A Digital Artist

How To Start Earning As A Digital Artist

Now that you've honed your skills as a digital artist, it's time to explore how you can start earning from your passion:

1. Freelance Work

One of the most common paths to earning as a digital artist is by taking on freelance projects. Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and allow you to create profiles, showcase your skills, and bid on projects that align with your expertise. Freelancing offers flexibility and the opportunity to work on a variety of projects for different clients.

2. Full Time Job

You can also earn from a full-time job as a digital artist by joining game development companies, animation studios, agencies that require graphic designers, film production houses and more.  The roles can be concept artist, 3D modeler, animator, illustrator, graphic designer etc. You must have a strong portfolio to showcase your skills to your employers, apply like a madman to these positions and maintain an online presence. Networking is also important, keep up on LinkedIn and similar platforms as well as attend industry events.

3. Sell Your Art Online

Consider selling your digital art online through platforms like Etsy, Crowdfundly, Gumroad, or your own website. You can offer digital downloads of your artwork or even create prints and merchandise featuring your designs. Building an online store allows you to reach a global audience of art enthusiasts.

4. Teaching and Tutorials

If you've become proficient in a specific aspect of digital art, you can monetize your expertise by offering online courses, tutorials, or workshops. Platforms like Teachable and Udemy make it easy to create and sell your educational content. Sharing your knowledge not only earns you income but also establishes you as an authority in your niche.

5. Commissions and Art Requests

Open yourself up to commissions and art requests from individuals or businesses. Many people are willing to pay for custom digital artwork, whether it's a portrait, concept art, or design work. Promote your commission services through your website and social media to attract potential clients.

6. Participate in Art Contests and Exhibitions

Entering art contests and exhibitions can provide exposure and potential cash prizes. Look for both online and offline opportunities to showcase your work and compete against other artists in your field.

7. Collaborate with Brands and Agencies

As your portfolio grows and your reputation as a digital artist solidifies, you may attract the attention of brands and creative agencies looking for talented artists to collaborate with. Building these partnerships can lead to well-paid projects and long-term working relationships.

8. Print-on-Demand Services

Explore print-on-demand services like Printful or Redbubble, where you can upload your artwork, and they handle the printing and shipping of products like T-shirts, posters, and phone cases. You earn a percentage of the sales whenever someone purchases an item with your design.

9. Patreon and Crowdfundly

Consider starting a Patreon page or Crowdfundly to secure financial support from your fans and patrons. Offer exclusive content, behind-the-scenes access, or personalized rewards to your supporters.

Some Good To Have Skills For Digital Artist

Some Good To Have Skills For Digital Artist

To become a proficient digital artist you must master some of the following skills in order to embark on this creative journey. They are not all mandatory to excel at but are good to have for digital artists:

Traditional art skills 

A strong foundation of traditional art at its techniques is extremely beneficial in becoming a digital artist. Traditional art skills consist of drawing, painting, and understanding principles of perspective, anatomy, and color theory. These skills can provide you with a solid artistic base that translates well into the digital world.


This is a skill every artist needs to master. Whether you’re creating portraits, landscapes, concept art or anything, the ability to closely observe and capture details in your mind is invaluable.

Color Theory

It’s also important to have a deep understanding of color theory in order to create visually appealing harmonious color compositions. Understanding the importance of contrasts, color relationships, and emotional impact of colors.

Software Proficiency

Mastering digital art software like Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, or 3D modeling software by playing around with different brushes and techniques can significantly increase your productivity and creativity.

Digital Painting

Digital painting techniques involve the use of brushes, blending modes, and layers to create stunning digital artwork. Learning how to control and manipulate these elements can make a significant difference in the quality of your work.

Graphic Design & Typography

If your digital art ventures into graphic design or involves adding text, having typography and graphic design skills can make your work more polished and professional. Understanding typography principles, layouts, and design elements can be a significant asset.

Time Management & Planning

As a digital artist, you'll often work on projects with deadlines. Effective time management and project planning skills can help you meet these deadlines while maintaining the quality of your work.

Marketing & Self Promotion

If you want to earn a living as a digital artist, marketing and self-promotion skills are a must. Building an online presence, effectively using social media, and showcasing your work to potential clients or employers is a crucial part of your success.

How Much Can a Digital Artist Earn: A Look at the Average Income

How Much Can a Digital Artist Earn: A Look at the Average Income

Freelance digital artists have the flexibility to set their own rates, which can significantly impact their earnings. Some experienced freelancers and entrepreneurs in the digital art space have reported annual incomes exceeding $100,000, particularly if they offer specialized services, have a substantial client base, and effectively market their skills.

Those who specialize in in-demand areas such as concept art for the entertainment industry or 3D modeling may earn even higher incomes.

Beyond traditional avenues of income, some digital artists generate passive income by selling prints, merchandise, or digital assets. The income from passive sources can vary widely but can contribute significantly to an artist's overall earnings.

As you progress in your digital art career, your earning potential can increase as you refine your skills, build a strong reputation, and expand your network. Ultimately, the income of a digital artist is closely tied to their dedication, talent, and entrepreneurial spirit. By continually improving your craft, marketing your work effectively, and exploring various income streams within the digital art industry, you can work toward achieving your financial goals while pursuing your passion for creativity.


Becoming a digital artist is not only about nurturing your creative talents but also about turning your passion into a sustainable source of income. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can embark on a fulfilling journey in the world of digital art and find multiple avenues to start earning from your artistic endeavors. Remember that success may not happen overnight, but with dedication, continuous learning, and a proactive approach to showcasing and marketing your work, you can achieve your goals as a digital artist while enjoying the creative freedom this medium provides. So, unleash your creativity, build your portfolio, and start your rewarding career as a digital artist today!


How do I choose the right digital art software?

Select software based on your artistic goals and preferences. Popular choices include Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and free options like Krita and GIMP. Try out different programs to find the one that suits your style best.

Do I need to be good at traditional art to excel in digital art?

While traditional art skills can be beneficial, they are not a strict requirement for digital art. Digital art has its own learning curve, and you can develop proficiency in it without prior traditional art experience.

How can I protect my digital art from theft or plagiarism?

Consider watermarking your work when sharing online. Additionally, you can use digital rights management (DRM) tools to add layers of security to your files. Copyright your art and maintain records of your work for legal protection.

Is a high-end computer necessary for digital art?

You don't always need a top-tier computer, but a machine with sufficient processing power and RAM is essential for smooth digital art creation. Choose hardware that meets the requirements of your chosen software and artistic needs. Also, if you’re just getting started, your traditional computer is also fine. You can start by using paint software for practice.

Maimoona Bukhari
Mona likes to be real & authentic in her writings. She believes in simplicity over jargon, crafts relatable content & adds a touch of wit that sparks genuine connections. Loves tea over coffee.

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