There’s been a fairly steady stream of books on digital art over the years and they’ve got progressively simpler. The early ones required a desktop pc and a digitising tablet and also had to accommodate a wide variety of software packages, all of them more than subtly different in their approaches. The results were usually confusing and could make a computer manual look like easy bedtime reading. And then along came tablets. Suddenly, everything got simpler, with on-screen drawing and apps that imitated the conventional painting process as far as possible. There was still the technology gap to bridge, though. A digital image doesn’t work exactly like paper or canvas and working in layers involves a bit more than just adding more paint on top of what’s already there. It does allow for a great deal of flexibility, though.
There’s a review of what is probably the very best guide so far to working with tablets elsewhere in this batch of reviews. This more basic volume, though, is far from playing second fiddle.
As I hinted before, there are complications and paradigm shifts to digital art. You have to get used to working in different ways and with what’s effectively a new medium that bears little resemblance to any other (even if it tries to pretend it does). What Matthew does here is to treat digital as a medium for the beginner. He works with a preferred app, avoiding the need for multiple visits to the same topic, a basic range of virtual brushes and, when it comes to layers, sticks to three. Master the basics and you’re more than halfway to understanding; the rest can come later. All of these are explained in language that will be familiar to the artist and in as few pages as possible, all of which can be done by avoiding complication. There are also some straightforward demonstrations you can follow to make sure you’ve picked things up correctly.
The whole approach is remarkably successful and should cut through any apprehension you may have about technology. Some familiarity with hand-held touchscreen devices is probably desirable, but that’s about it.
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