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When I was little, I used to draw a lot. Apart from being therapeutic and calming, it served as a channel for me to express myself. Despite being average at it, I still had loads of fun. However, as time passed, I stopped doing it, until the pandemic hit. 

With a lot of free time on my hands, I started drawing again. And so, I grabbed markers, crayons, and a lot of paper. Turns out that it wasn’t  enough for me, so I impulsively bought an iPad, with the mission of learning how to draw digitally. I obsessively watched a LOT of YouTube videos and tutorials, because I wanted to be ready to draw as soon as I got the iPad. I felt ready! I actually convinced myself beforehand that it was going to be easyーafter all, I was doing it already on paper, right?! 

Photo via @esthart_3

WRONG! I felt as if I were suddenly eight again, without a clue about how to draw. It wasn’t only that I wasn't drawing on paper or that the pencil was heavier, but Procreate (an app for iOS or iPadOS where you can draw, paint or edit digitally) was also REALLY confusing. It has too many features and options to choose from. What pencil was I supposed to draw with? And why won't the color just stay in the lines?! My first piece of art was wonky and the color palette was just terrible. I felt a little sad, especially when I compared it to the ones I had done on paper or with other Procreate artists. But I kept trying, because how else was I supposed to learn? It was frustrating and nothing ever looked how I wanted. Adding shadows? What a nightmare!

But slowly I learned a few tricks, such as not putting the colors in the same layer as the line art, or what tools are better for shadowing, and how marvelous the layer options can be (Multiply and Linear Burn forever changed my life). I started drawing more and, while I was not completely happy with the drawings, they gradually got better. I practiced by drawing my friends. The final products may have looked a little wonky, but they appreciated it nonetheless and were really supportive. I also used pop culture characters that I love and, while my versions don’t look quite as they’re “supposed” to look, they were fun to do. I tried different ways of creating shades and lights and, while I’m still not always 100% sure where to put what, I think I found my favorite way of doing it. The point is, I haven’t given up and neither should you.



A post shared by Esther✨ (@esthart_3)

Photo via @esthart_3

The only way of getting better at Procreate is by practicing. Sure, tutorials help (the one’s on TikTok particularly? 10/10), but it’s ultimately up to you to practice and find your way. For example, the pencil that works for me (Studio Pen) maybe won’t work for you. Also, there’s about a thousand ways to go about shading stuff. While you may not always notice your progress, it’s there (as long as you’re consistent and strive to achieve the results you wish to see). I for sure didn't! It wasn’t until I redrew something that I did back in October and compared them side-by-side, that I noticed how much I had progressed. In a matter of months I have developed my own art style and I wasn’t even aware of it! I was so excited to see how much progress I made. I also started doing small animations and while some of them look weird, I think I’m getting better at them! 

Photo via @esthart_3

So have patience, keep playing and practicing with Procreate, because you WILL get better. Find your own style and what works best for you. References always help! And remember to not compare your art with anyone else’s. Every artist is different and that’s what makes art beautiful. 

Alana is currently in her fifth year, studying Comparative Literature in the UPR Río Piedras Campus. She loves books, superheroes and mythology. Will sing any song that she knows (even if she can't sing to save her life) and is always tired. She dreams with someday writing a book.
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