This is a list I made explaining the biggest digital art mistakes in my opinion. I believe that if you try to avoid those mistakes, your art process will be 10 times easier and you can expect much better results! I learned those mistakes by my own experience, so learn from me, and you will save a lot of time.
For a full video explanation, click here.
1. Not Flipping Your Canvas Horizontally.
When drawing, your brain gets very used to the picture you are looking at for a long time. That’s why you will not catch the mistakes that can be obvious if you see it for the first time.
But there is a quick fix for the deformations the can occur while drawing. Just flip your drawing horizontally and believe me, the mistakes will be more obvious than you would have expected.
When you are far gone into a drawing and want to fix those mistakes, you can use a liquify tool (programs like Procreate and Photoshop both have this tool) and transform it.
But I would not recommend waiting for too long to flip your drawing horizontally. The ideal amount of flipping your canvas horizontally, is once about 5 minutes. Like this, your drawing process will go faster and smoother, taking away all the confusions you get when something doesn’t look quite good, but you don’t know why. Flipping your canvas is like a magic tool, honestly.
2. Merging The Layers Too Quickly
Having a lot of layers is a huge advantage when drawing digitally. But, often when you reach a limit of layers, you can be tempted to merge some of them. But don’t make that mistake. Instead of that, you can better duplicate the whole drawing and merge them on the duplicate so you can always come back to the separate layers if you need to.
You can see that I have 3 of the same drawing canvases. It’s because this drawing had a lot of faces, and I wanted to have enough layers for each of them. When I reached the maximum amount of layers on the first canvas, I just duplicated it and worked on the duplicate, where I could merge the finished layers together without any risk. Because I can always go back to the previous version in the gallery, I can be relaxed.
3. The Mistake of Zooming In Too Much
This is a case of using an advantage that you get when drawing on a tablet in a wrong way. When you zoom in too much you can’t see the composition, dynamics and the overall view that is obviously the most important thing.
It’s important to focus on the full picture, and zoom in only when needed and remember to zoom out right away.
I do not mean to say to not zoom in or reduce it to an impossible amount. What I mean is that you should never stay zoomed in for too long, or you will loose the overall perspective and touch of what you draw and how the details that you work on affect it. This is one of the very important digital art mistakes you should avoid making.
4. Using The Smudge Tool Wrong
Blending is an amazing option in digital art, but when used wrong it doesn’t work at all. I am personally not a big fan of the smudge tool on Procreate, It blends out too strongly for my liking.
But if you enjoy using the smudge tool, then perfect! The smudge tool is not the mistake in digital art. It’s the technique that is important to focus on.
First way of avoiding smudge tool mistakes in digital art
First you need to find the perfect opacity, perfect brush that fits your needs at the moment, size and the right stroke movement. Don’t just make it muddy because you don’t feel like perfecting it, because blending is a big part of digital artworks in realistic and semi-realistic style. It can make or break your art piece.
So find your perfect brush and start from there. It’s always easier to improve when the tool you are using is not working against you. Keep in mind to not blend over details that should stay sharp, and when blending big areas – adjust the size of the brush.
Also, make the opacity higher and lower to not blend out too harsh to too soft (although blending out too softly is not such a big deal).
I have separate brushes for different strength of blending, it’s in my 💧Only Blend Brush Set💧(click to get it)
Don’t forget to find the perfect movement. Try to follow the natural movement of what you are drawing, and if you don’t get it right away, go back and try again. Fluidity of this comes with practice.
Second way of avoiding smudge tool mistakes in digital art
The second category is taken entirely by choosing the right colours to blend with. There are a lot of nuances to avoid this mistake in digital art, so I made a full video explaining all of that here.
5. Using The Wrong Brushes Can Be A Digital Art Mistake
A lot of people say that the brushes you use is not important, and that a good artist can draw a masterpiece with any brush. While it is true to some extend, still, to recreate a specific style or effect, you will need the right brush.
Yes, I can make a masterpiece using an oil painting, but it will never look like a watercolour style painting. For that, I will obviously use a watercolour paint. Also, how can I make a pencil drawing, without any pencils?
That’s why the brushes you use are actually very important. You see this stroke?
This is the brush I used for it:
Now, do you see this stroke?
There is nothing wrong with this stroke. It is just impossible to create the same effect with this brush as I did with the first brush. This is the brush I used:
None are worse or better, they are just different and you need to use them properly.
6. Adding Too Much Detail
Detail should be added with caution. It can be used too much and too little. Although it can go both ways, the most recurring mistake in digital art I see is using too much of it.
This mistake can be connected with zooming in too much. When you zoom in, you add too many details. When you can’t balance the amount on details on your drawing, it becomes messy and that doesn’t look good. Even worse, when the amount of details is really dense, it looks more like a texture than a detail. It looses its power.
Hair is a good example of this digital art mistake. Because you think of hair like thousands of single hair strokes, you end up trying to draw it that way. But hair strokes are so soft, that together they blend . So it will be more effective to start out with big shapes, and add a few details, a few hair strokes.
Those examples might fool you because I only showed a small part of hair too detailed, but if it was fully made this way, it would look almost awful.
How to avoid details digital art mistake in even more ways
Try to think about what part of the drawing should be the eye catcher, for example the face. This is where the details should be the most prevalent. Think about it like hue contrast, tone contrast etc is important to a drawing, detail contrast is of the same importance.
So when drawing objects further from the centre of attention, don’t care too much about making it perfect and pretty. Believe me, it will make a good effect.
7. Ignoring The Mistakes And Proceeding Further
If you do that, the mistakes will not go away. They will be even more prominent and you will hate yourself. Erase, step back and make sure you dont proceed with a sketch or lineart or base colors that are not exactly what you want it to be. Every step further makes it harder to fix.
8. Drawing Too Quickly many times counts as Digital Art Mistakes
A lot of beginning artists see how big artists draw very quickly and effectively and want to take example. But those people have drawn very similarly in this style for years and it has become the second nature.
As much as I want every artists to take example from professional artists, this is not entirely the case here. To learn how to draw and to be able to implement the techniques that you learn, you need to give your brain some time. Draw slowly, think about what you do and follow your plan. These digital art mistakes can slow down your progress by a lot.
Even for me, a 5 year full time artists, its way more effective when I take my time when drawing. You need to let your brain think and come up with structures, create your lines slowly so it finds the right place.
9. Not Using Contrast
The process of drawing with contrast can be more difficult, but the final effect is way more beautiful and worth the effort.
I see a lot of you being scared to use contrast because there are a lot of mistakes to be made when doing that. But you can’t skip it, dont reduce the contrast because the process is easier. Here you can see how much better the drawing looks when the contrast goes though the whole spectrum (from very dark to very light). Compared to the low contrast drawing, the first one is a whole lot more vibrant.
To check if your drawing has good value contrast, turn it black and white to see it more clearly.
10. Using Only One Reference
Using a reference is already very good, but most of you already know that. I hope we left the old fashioned thinking of using references being bad and can forget about that.
But one thing you probably haven’t thought about is using a lot of them. Don’t limit yourself, have a whole gallery of references in your sight. That way not only you will have a better image of what a face looks like, because you have pictures of it in different angles. Collect a few pictures that you want to take an example from, so you not only see how a face looks from one angle, but from multiple. Also, to create even more interesting drawing, collect a reference for lighting, colors, features, pose etc.
11. Not Using All the Perks Of Your Program
Procreate might seem simple but it offers a lot of features. Try to explore them, they can make your drawing look way better, and you might discover the final touch that you were looking for. Also, dont be scared to use the liquify tool, its a wonderful feature. You are not cheating by using extra tools, art is art, no matter how it comes to be.
Here you can see an example of one of mane cool effects that Procreate has to offer.