ART | A reflection on my digital art adventures

Did you notice anything different about my drawings when looking at my most recent blog posts? Huh huh huh?

Well, apart from the fact that my style of drawing is constantly changing (something we’ll take a closer look at in this post), I’ve officially transitioned into creating digital art. That’s right, those masterpieces accompanying those recent posts are made entirely through digital means instead of markers and pens and, I’m not going to lie, I absolutely love them.

As it’s been almost four months of exploration with my iPad and I’ve finally settled on a digital style that I’m (mostly) happy with, I thought it would be fun to reflect on my digital art adventures so far. Enjoy!

Month one: pencil marks and lines

When I first received my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted my work to look like. I’ve always primarily created cartoonish illustrations so didn’t want to stray too far from that, but I really wanted to take advantage of my new digital tools to experiment.

One of the things I initially tried to incorporate into my digital work is the texture and streakiness of pencils. This was inspired by my love of artists such as Rovina Cai and Jo Rioux. Their pieces have always captivated me. I love how the penciled lines not only help guide the viewer’s eye through their work but also help set the mood.

(And you can actually see that I somewhat attempted to replicate this “streakiness” in my last traditional drawing posted on the blog, being more loose and sketchy with my markers than before. It definitely wasn’t effective though since the colours blended together.)

My first digital attempt incoporating this “streakiness” was a piece I created for Mermay but never posted. Using layers upon layers of coloured pencils I created a little warrior mermaid (seahorsemaid?).

I didn’t hate the end product, but felt like it was a lot of work for little reward. I am not a patient creator. All those little lines are beautiful and I still really do love how they add a sense of movement and texture to the piece, but I just did not have the desire to repeat that process.

As a result, my next digital illustration attempted to replicate that same feeling except with a different (non-pencil) brush.

(Gold star to those who can recognise what this unfinished illustration is a fan art of.)

I’m not going to lie, this is still one of my favourite digital pieces I’ve made. I just really, really love that dress. I actually had a full background planned out for this as well, but I ended up pulling away from this piece during my big move to the UK and couldn’t get back into it once I returned. Everything I tried to add just felt wrong so I gave up.

I would definitely like to return to this type of colouring in the future, but since I lost my “mojo” midway I ended up moving to something completely different and haven’t revisited it since.

Month two: a move towards realism

Thanks to the brilliance of being able to UNDO and DELETE all the things, I then went through a phase with my art where I decided I wanted to create more realistic pieces. I think I’m going to blame Daria Golab for this. I am a fan of her portrait work, especially her use of lines when creating faces (are we seeing a theme yet?), and at the time it inspired me to try and create something similar.

I actually am quite pleased with where this illustration (and the other semi-realistic portrait I created during this time) was going, but again, I am not a patient creator. Between the need to find references for such work and the amount of time it took to create just the outline, I decided that this type of work wasn’t for me.

Instead I tried to move to something still realistic, but a little more loose and carefree.

This creation was a result of the popular #drawthisinyourstyle challenge in June. I decided to draw a character by another favourite artist of mine, Marine Vernhes, in my style even though I had no idea what my style was.

I was still feeling the semi-realistic thing so used a proper reference, but I really let myself have fun by incorporating bold lines, scribbly marks, and bold colours. I took Marine’s character, made her realistic, and then cartoonified her.

This felt much more manageable than the earlier piece, but still didn’t feel like “me”. I actually archived it only one day after posting it on my Instagram because I just felt it was too much of a stray away from my traditional work. It felt embarrassing, in a way.

Month three: back to my cartoonish roots

Honestly, at this point I was starting to feel a bit discouraged. Why was everything I tried to create digitally not working? How many styles would I have to explore before I found something I like? Was it all a complete waste?

And then I realised my problem: instead of trying to be someone completely different when creating on my iPad, I should go back to my roots and what made me happiest while creating traditionally. I should create diary doodles.

I threw out the focus on realism, stopped obsessing so much about colouring, and just focused on creating little pieces of work that reflected what was going on in my life just as I would with traditional materials.

And honestly, I’ve been so much happier with my digital work ever since I made that decision! I’ve been creating regularly. My work feels (mostly) consistent. And I just love how quick and stress-free it all is.

Plus, though I am creating work like that I created before, I actually feel like I’ve progressed with it. I feel like there’s so much more personality in my artwork now. Each piece has a story or attitude associated with it, and I don’t think I finish any without a smile on my face.

Can an artist ask for anything better?

Of course, that’s not to say things aren’t still changing. I just created a piece today where I decided to switch things up a bit:

atypicalnarrative illustration: "Wow, you're so strong!"

Yup, unlike all the work I created in July which you’ll see featured on the blog over the next month or so, my latest piece has no scribbly colouring and involves a much brighter colour palette. I also seemed to have revert back to my triangle cheeks of the past, which was an unexpected surprise.

But you know what? I don’t mind that my style keeps changing. I used to worry about such things in the past, but not any more. Now I’m just grateful that my new iPad allows me to change things up when I feel like it and that my exploration with it has led me to appreciate my diary doodles even more.

It’s been a crazy four months art-wise since I received my iPad for my birthday, but I’ve enjoyed the adventure and am glad that it’s motivated me to create fun pieces for the blog again. And I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. ❤

Let’s Chat

What do you think of the various types of artwork I have created these past four months since receiving my iPad? Surprised by how much it’s changed? Is there a certain piece that really stands out for you? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re a creator, tell me if you’ve ever experienced something similar where you go through months of experimenting because nothing just seems to work. I’d love to chat about it!

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14 thoughts on “ART | A reflection on my digital art adventures

  1. I have to admit, I don’t *completely* understand how digital art works. 🙈

    As always, I’m in awe of your talent, and I love watching the different styles you try out. I think that’s a brave thing to do! I really do love that red dress. But it’s also important to realize what makes you happy. I’m glad cartoons make you happy, as they’ve always been my favorites! I honestly think you should look into making a comic series! (Unless that would take away the fun, in which case, maybe not haha.)

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    1. Is there a way I can help with your confusion around digital art? The way I see it, it’s pretty much any art you create digitally. So instead of the traditional pen and paper or painting or what-have-you, you create art using something like a tablet and programs like Procreate, Photoshop, etc. Some people combine the two and sketch out things traditionally to scan and color in digitally, some people do their entire piece traditionally but just touch it up digitally, etc. For me, my digital art has been entirely done on my iPad. So I sketch, do the linework, and color it all in Procreate and then save it to share online! Does that help? Or did you know all that and I’m completely misunderstanding your not understanding? lol.

      You’re definitely not the only one to suggest the comic series! I actually have a publishing friend who showed one of my illustrations to someone she knows who did his PhD on comics and he suggested I pursue comics/graphic novels as well. And I do think it’d be fun! I guess my biggest hesitation towards that is the fact that I don’t really feel like I have a story to tell? Hm.

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      1. I don’t really know what I don’t understand, haha. I guess I need to see someone do it. But I can’t even write my name properly with my finger and an iPad, so I guess I don’t understand how people can make actual art! Do you use some sort of digital pen?

        You definitely have a story to tell! You just have to believe in yourself and that it’s worth telling. 💚

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      2. Oh yeah, I use an Apple Pencil! It took a little while to get used to but I like that you’re able to draw right on the screen just like you would on a piece of paper. Digital artists who draw on a tablet and then have to look at their monitor to see what they’re drawing blow my mind.

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  2. It’s so much fun to see all these images together in one post! I think the only one I hadn’t seen before was the super realistic one. I mean, damn, you’re talented. And I still do love that dress with all the movement and texture.

    I’m so happy that *you’re* happy with where your digital art is going now! I have to say, I can tell in these drawings that you’re having fun creating them! I’m enjoying the new bit of whimsy I’m seeing in your style now and I can’t wait to see where you go from here!

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    1. Thanks Kelley! Yes, I think you’re the only one apart from Dave who gets to see most sneak peaks of my work before they go on the blog. I’ve always appreciated your support.

      I hope you’re still having fun in YOUR creative endeavours. I know things have been a bit crazy for you, but I’m always ready to root you on. Plus I think you’re such a smart creative with the things you come up with. Mine creative work is always so self-focused, especially since I mainly just draw my little diary doodles. I admire the fact that your little projects have an obvious target audience.

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  3. I love your diary doodles and I’m glad you’ve found a way to make the new medium work for your style. Experimenting is great fun (the depth of colour and texture on that red dress is awesome) and a vital part of growing and refining your style. Just out of curiosity, which iPad app do you use for drawing? There are so many to choose from…

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I did primarily use Photoshop for touch ups and whatnot prior to owning an iPad, but since it’s available on iPad went with Procreate since that was what I saw most recommended by other illustrators I look up to. I think I did see they’re planning on launching a Photoshop app for iPad in the future though so will be curious if I stick with Procreate when that happens or switch back over. I do really enjoy Procreate though, especially since the last update. Have you tried different apps for drawing?

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  4. Asti, I love love love your art so much! I really enjoy seeing the pieces you post on twitter and instagram, I always love the little stories they tell. I feel like soon you would be able to release a book on The Life of Asti with all of your drawings in them (How cool would this be?!). I would 100% be into whatever comic or graphic novel you released if you went down the route! (I was stalking the comments section and saw you mentioned that lol.) But also, you should seriously consider going down that route, you’re very talented and you work so hard!

    I agree that your art has personality, I feel like each image says so much without explanation. I think it’s really cool that you’re also branching out and trying different things too just to see what you like and what you don’t like. Getting to see the evolution of your art, and how you’ve tried different styles, is really cool.

    I’m happy that you’re loving it and making digital art work for you!

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    1. Aw, thanks Jordon! I do think the comic/graphic novel thing would be fun, even if it just revolved around my life. I’ve definitely been thinking about it a lot since writing this post and receiving so much positive feedback. I just need to decide if I want to try creating something original or if I want to go down the “Life of Asti” route like you suggested. Sometimes it’s just hard to believe people could be interested in the nonsense of lil ol me 😉

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