Artists are always on the lookout for new mediums to abuse, disuse and explore and with the advent of the digital age, it should not come as a surprise that something so common like a tablet can be used to create and display masterpieces crafted by masters and apprentices alike.
These so-called digital artists would either use their fingertips or a stylus to express their concept and for beginners, knowing how to properly hold a stylus for drawing is a great way to start mastering this media.
Digital art started from a few stick drawings and caricatures which eventually turned into colored panels for comic books and large-scale artworks, notable enough to be displayed in a physical or digital museum.
Of course, printing them unto a canvas defeats the purpose of a paper economy as multimedia printing can be quite costly, especially if you want the colors to remain faithful to the original.
For someone who has just thought of the concept of using a tablet to express himself, knowing how to properly hold a stylus for drawing is an essential skill that he needs to learn, especially if he wants to be known for his works. But aside from this, he also needs to know how to begin drawing and what stuff he can draw to hone his drawing skills further.
How to Properly Hold a Stylus for Drawing?
A stylus is an electronic device that is often partnered with a digital assistant or a drawing tablet. It looks like a ballpoint pen, complete with nib and tail, as well as rubber grip. The similarities end there, however, especially in the way how a stylus works as compared to a pen.
There is no right way nor is there a wrong way of holding a stylus, as using it is pretty subjective and highly dependent on the person using the pen and the purpose as to why he is using it. You can hold it like you would a pen or a piece of stick that you use to poke around something unknown, maybe a new OS or something.
There is, however, a proper way of holding it efficiently, especially when drawing something on a drawing tablet. Here are the steps to which you can be more efficient in using a stylus:
Step 1: Using your dominant or drawing hand, grab the pen and feel its weight between your middle finger and thumb.
Step 2: Position the stylus as if you are holding a ballpoint pen. It should be nested comfortably and steady using three fingers; the middle finger, index finger, and the thumb.
Step 3: Place your middle finger near the nib or tip of the stylus, and place your thumb on the side, keeping the pen steady.
Step 4: Place your index on top of the stylus buttons that are usually found near the tip. This buttons act like the clickers on a computer mouse and can be customized to do different stuff, as you would require. These buttons can be obtrusive to some, but others have embraced it and have worked out a way to draw without making contact with the switch.
Step 5: Make sure to hold the stylus lightly over the drawing tablet with almost no pressure on the tablet surface.
Step 6: Do not squeeze too hard on the pen as it might cause you to tire easily.
Step 7: When starting to draw, rest your palm on the tablet surface and use it as the pivot for your drawing hand.
Step 8: Do some test strokes to check if you’re holding the stylus pen comfortably. Change the positions of your fingers when needed.
How to Improve Tablet Skills?
Using a stylus pen to draw on a drawing tablet is a surreal experience, especially if all you’ve done your entire life is to scribble and doodle with pens and pencils on your trusty drawing notebooks. As an artist or hobbyist, you have to be abreast with new technology and be able to adapt to the different styles. This would keep you and your art more relevant to society.
Getting used to a stylus pen can be quite hard, especially if you are a beginner to the media and if you are being pressured to master it in a short time. There may be obstacles but here are a few tips that will help you improve your tablet-drawing skills fast.
- It’s in the Alignment
One mistake that digital artists often commit is that they do not align the tablet with their screen. While this does not appear to be a problem to some, it would be better if can place the tablet parallel to the computer screen so that you would be more aware of how your hand is doing when it comes to its strokes.
If you are not using a drawing pad for a computer, and you are drawing directly on a tablet, then make sure that your body is parallel to the tablet or at least there should be enough room for you to maneuver the tablet to the right angle.
- Draw with the Elbows
Keep your fingers and arm locked while holding the pen. Instead of using your palms as the pivot, you can opt to use your elbows to guide your lines, especially if you are drawing longer and wider ones. Use the arm pivot when finishing up the details but for everything else, the elbows should do it. This also prevents you from getting tired easily.
- Use Faster, Shorter Strokes
Another common mistake is drawing lines slowly like how you would using pencil and paper. When it comes to stylus pens, using faster strokes can get you straight lines easier. This also works for long curves and shapes. Apply a swift upward or downward motion to get perpendicular lines straight.
- Use Segmentation
If ever you would need to draw a large curve or a perfect circle, then you can use segmentation to draw them without having to repeat or zoom your canvas out. Segmentation is using quick strokes towards a predestined area where you can connect it with another quick stroke to elongate or form a shape with it.
- Be Spontaneous
Spontaneity is ideal for hair and short curved lines. In drawing terms, these lines should go towards the same direction and terminate along the same plane. This lets you cover more area, when it comes to drawing hair, and get more details in right after.
- Flip the Tablet
If you are drawing directly on a tablet, then rotate it as you go along to ensure that you get all the foreseeable angles and keep the drawing consistent. This is particularly true when drawing perspective lines with a single termination point, rotating the screen keeps freehand lines true to its target.
- Rotate the Drawing
Once you’re down with your draft, use the rotate or flip feature of your drawing software to get a fresh perspective on the subject that you are drawing. Sometimes this is necessary as hidden angles and perspective often intensifies the message you want to convey in the drawing.
- Back to Basics
Practice with the basic shapes that are often used in drawing composition. These are your spheres, cylinders, and cubes. Try drawing them first as they are then using other shapes to connect them to form an object. For example, use a sphere for foliage and a long cube for the trunk to make a geometric tree.
- Draw Often, Draw All the Time
Consistency is key. You are using muscles to draw and, like weight lifting, using the same group of muscles with the same form trains them and develops them so that they can replicate line exercise without any problem.
- Get Crazy
Don’t get stuck on a niche, practice different form combinations and have fun doing it.
What Is the Best Tip in Drawing?
Do not be afraid to make mistakes while practicing your drawing skills. It will take time, especially with a medium like a drawing tablet. You can practice your strokes with pen and paper first, but the point of going digital is to save on paper, and you are not helping mother nature if you would practice on some.
Remember that you are using a digital platform, which means you can draw the same lines over and over again. You just need to create a new project or file when you commit a mistake, and that’s it!
Some digital artists would draw iterations of their concept over older iterations to perfect what they want to accomplish. This is a best practice that has been proven to work when it comes to improving drawing skills in a short amount of time.