How to turn physical art into digital art

Are you an artist that creates physical art but do you want to put your art online? Learn how to turn your physical art into digital art in 6 easy steps and sell your art online as a printed product, digital artwork, NFT,...
Art creation

There are still a lot of artists who prefer to create physical art. For some, there just will never be a digital alternative that matches the feeling of physically creating artwork, putting that pencil to the canvas and just enjoying the moment. However, with everything going digital, there is more and more demand for digital art. Is this an issue for physical artists? Fortunately it’s not, there are many ways to digitize your physical art into digital art. We have created a step by step guide that let’s you digitize your work with tools like Photoshop, Illustrator or other alternatives if you don’t have access to Adobe programs.

Step 1: Make your physical artwork

In order to digitize your art, you will first need to have some physical art! And if you don’t have any physical art yet, it’s important to have the creation of digital art in mind before starting with your physical art. Here are some tips that will make the process easier when you’re eventually creating digital art from your physical art.

For example, if you made a sketch it’s best to use ink to outline your work as black lines will scan more easily. Make sure that you’re satisfied with the sketch as you won’t be making any major changes once it has been scanned.

Art sketch
Step 2: Scan your work

The moment is here, you’re about to scan your physical art! You can use a traditional scanner, however make sure that the scanner has a minimum of 300 dots per inch (DPI). If you don’t have a scanner in your home you can also go to a print shop, they will also be able to scan it for you.

Another option, which we don’t really recommend is taking a picture from your design. Make sure you’re taking a picture of high quality, with good lightning and perpendicularly above your artwork so that the lines from your work are not deformed.

Make sure to save the image as the highest possible quality on your device before starting with your software of choice to start editing. Also make sure to store a backup, in case anything goes wrong you can always go back to your original work.

Step 3: Improve the scanned artwork

You’re artwork has been created, scanned and saved on your device, it’s time to get to work again. When you have a look at the digital copy of your work, there will most likely be some imperfections. The background could not be perfectly white anymore, some lines could be hard to see, and so on. It’s completely normal that there are some imperfections and this is where your software comes in handy.

There are many programs you can use to make your image better-looking and we listed some of them below:

– Adobe Photoshop (paid)
– Corel Paintshop Pro (paid)
– Affinity Photo (paid)
– GIMP (free)
– Pixlr (free)

Sketch improvements

With these tools you’ll be able to make your background perfectly white again and make your lines pitch black to make your image look clean. Usually this is done by adjusting the color levels from your work. You can use different tools in these programs to make your art a true digital native. It’s up to you how far you want to take this, it’s still a handmade piece and therefore the work could loose that drawing effect when making it too perfect.

Step 4: Turn your scan into a Vector

It’s time to convert your pixelated image into infinite geometric shapes. Pictures are made from thousands of pixels, little squares that make up the image. Therefore, when you zoom in on your image at some point you’ll notice something called ‘pixelation’. This is the point where you start to see that the image is made out of thousands of squares and that’s not what we want for your high quality artwork.

Adobe Illustrator has a very useful feature called Live Trace, this allows you to turn your image into a vector and will get rid of most pixels. You can still see some irregularities when zoomed in but nothing like your pixelated picture.

There are some other alternatives for Illustrator too:

– CorelDRAW (paid)
– Affinity designer (paid)
– Inkscape (free)
– BoxySVG (free)

Step 5: Color your artwork

This is not a necessary step, but if you like to add some color to your illustration, here is how you can do it. The most convenient way is by using the Live Paint feature, a tool from Adobe Illustrator that allows you to ‘paint’ certain parts of your work.
You can do this by selecting a certain part of your illustration, after you made your selection you’re able to fill it with the color of your choice.

There are many other ways apart from the Live Paint feature that will allow you to color your illustration by using the programs listed above.

Colored sketch

Step 6: Sell your artwork online

Congratulations, your digital art is finished! Now it’s time to store it on your computer and look at it once in a while. Ha, just kidding! There are many things you can do to monetize your work from now on. You can sell your work on art platforms, start your own shop for printable products, sign up on a platform like HolyMowly, sell it as an NFT,… The possibilities are endless. Enjoy the ride!

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