Digital Drawing and Painting
Intro
With todays digital tools and the level of sophistication of drawing and painting software, digitally artistry offers a solid alternative with tons advantages and possibilities, and once you get going there are plenty of money to save as well since quality paper, canvasses and drawing materials are all quite expensive. Things you needn't worry about if you go digital. With that in place lets start out by having a look at the gear needed.
The Gear
Wacom Intuos 4 TabletWhen talking digitally drawing and painting there's no way around tablets (also known as digitizers), and this usually involves Wacoms excellent line of tablet products. They are sturdy, good looking and generally work really well. They are very precise and have many levels of pressure sensitivity leaving you with a sense of great control. They come in various sizes and some have programmable buttons, touchwheels and slidebars. Some of them are even completely wireless only requiring an occasional re-charge to work. Wacom also makes Cintiqs which are large capacitive screens resting on adjustable stands where you draw and paint directly on the display. A Cintiq is basically a large display coupled with the well-known technology of the Intuos 4 series.
But back to the tablets. Most tablets are hooked up to an USB port and do not need an external powersupply (they are powered via the USB port). The pen is used just like a normal pen. It has a rubber grip for those sweaty fingers, feels good in your hand and is completely wireless giving you the freedom to tilt and turn it as you please. Along with a wide variety of accessories for Wacoms tablets you can find many different types of nibs for your pen. Some have more traction and some slide smoothly over the surface of the tablet. Whatever feel you are looking for there is a type of nib to match it.
The Software
Along with most Wacom tablets comes Painter Essentials (for both Macs and PCs), which is sufficient to begin with. It is basically a light version of Painter offering a limited set of tools and functions. However, due to it's limitations you will quickly want to move to a full-blown and feature rich drawing and painting application. Here is a short list of apps supporting Wacom tablets:
Corel Painter  (corel.com)
Adobe Photoshop  (adobe.com)
Open Canvas  (portalgraphics.net)
Manga Studio (smithmicro.com)
The Gimp  (FREE, gimp.org)
Sketchbook Pro  (autodesk.com)
The software listed above all have support for Wacoms tablets (and most likely other tablets as well) but while some of them only have support for tablets, others are made specifically for tablet use. The list is by no means complete and only contains some of the more popular choices. Depending on your needs (and the size of your wallet) you should be able to find what you are looking for in the list above. Many of the apps listed can be downloaded as fully functional trial versions.
Is It The Real Thing?
Some artists regard digital drawing and painting as a lesser form of artistry. Personally I do both traditional and digital art, and have no problems with either. I view it as two different ways of accomplishing the same thing. Art. Both are challenging and have their own limitations and advantages but as far as effect and expression goes they are equally capable. No matter what, digital drawing and painting requires the same amount of hard work. Simply because it is done digitally doesn't make it any less challenging. Or any less real.
Get Used To It
"Are tablets hard getting used to?", you might ask. Well, not really. If you think that drawing one place (on the tablet sitting on your desk) and the lines appearing another (on your screen standing in front of you) must be difficult, I can assure you that it's not the case. They become natural to use in no time. Initially you can simply grab the pen and start drawing with no real effort and getting fully comfortable using a tablet only requires a few extra days of practice, but that's pretty much it. The technology is so refined it quickly becomes as natural to use as a computer mouse.
Wait, there's more!
To end this tutorial the only thing left to say is; The technology is there, grab it, give it a go, and add a new and interesting dimension to your world of creativity.