Digital art creation tools can be very confusing for the first time user. All those tools and settings, filters and buttons, it can be difficult to know where to start. With this series of articles, I hope to help you understand the basics of digital art creation. We will be looking into raster-based art first, then taking our new found talents over to vector art.
The programs that I shall be using for this raster series of articles are Photoshop (CS6) and Krita (4.1.1), both on Windows 10. Since Krita is updated on a fairly regular basis, I will let you know, when I’ve downloaded and am using another version of this program.
Now many of you will be here because you have thought about delving into digital art for the first time. Some of you are perhaps here as seasoned artists, looking for a refresher course or to learn a new program. Whatever the reason, we thank you for choosing to fly with Oxgadgets and for letting me be your pilot.
Beginners fear not, as we shall take things slowly. Today I am going to assume you have downloaded Photoshop or Krita for the first time. Now to make things nice and easy for us all, I have prepared some files for you to download. These contain my desktop (or workspace) settings for both Krita and Photoshop. This way, your screen will look just like mine. Hopefully, this will make things easier for you to follow along at home.
So, download these files, and our first lesson will begin. Installing workspaces and setting up a canvas.
Installing Workspaces in Photoshop
There are a few places on your hard drive that you’re going to need to become familiar with to install any add-ons or extras for Photoshop. Let’s start with the desktop setting that you have downloaded from the link above. First of all, if you have Photoshop open, you need to close it to install any assets. Now, open the folder marked PS and then the .txt document called “README”. Here you will find the place you need to place your new desktop settings file (or workspace as it’s called in Photoshop). You need to change the “USERNAME_HERE” in the text file, to your own log-in name. Then copy paste this new text into your Windows Explorer address bar. Copy over the file called “Loz_Desktop” to this folder.
For those who are just looking for this folder, the location on Windows 10 is “C:\Users\USERNAME_HERE\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Adobe Photoshop CS6 Settings\WorkSpaces (Modified)”. This is also the place you are looking for if you wish to back up your personal settings, which is always a good idea when re-installing or upgrading.
There are many other assets that you can get for Photoshop such as brushes and styles. If you are completely new to Photoshop, you might not know what I am talking about here. Don’t worry, we will be looking into these add-ons, and more in later lessons.
Advanced Photoshop Users
Confident users who are itching to install and get things set up, the location you are looking for is “C:\Users\USERNAME_HERE\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets”. Here, you’ll find folders clearly labelled for each asset type.
Installing Workspaces in Krita
There are two ways you can install additional workspaces and other add-ons to Krita. You can use the inbuilt installer, or you can manually place your assets in the correct folders. It is advisable to occasionally back up your brushes and other settings in Krita. Especially when performing an update to the program. For this reason, I am going to recommend that you get familiar with where your Krita files are kept, and manually install your assets.
There are a few locations that the Krita files will work in when manually placed. I have found the files in the “Roaming” directory to be the best place to install or back up files. I’ve noticed that this location is left untouched during updates, so it seems to be the safest place.
You will need to have Krita closed to manually install. Those who have downloaded my Krita desktop settings, open the folder called Krita. You will see a .txt called “README”. There are two locations in this file that you will need to copy the files I gave you into. The first one is your roaming folder. All you need to do here is change the part that says “USERNAME_HERE” to your username details, then copy paste this address into your Windows Explorer bar at the top and hit enter. You should now be in a folder which has a few workspace files ending in .kws. Copy and paste the files I gave you, into this location. The second location you need to install your workspace files is in your program files. This is a lot easier to find. Just copy and paste the second location in the .txt into your Explorer bar and hit enter.
Advanced Krita Users
Advanced users, who are looking for these folders, on Window 10 go to: C:\Users\USERNAME_HERE\AppData\Roaming\krita\workspaces (this is your roaming folder).
You also need to go to: C:\Program Files\Krita (x64)\share\krita\workspaces.
Setting Up a Canvas in Photoshop
A simple yet important task before we round up this session. Canvas creation in Photoshop. Start Photoshop and when it loads, move your mouse to “File” on the top left of your screen. Move down to “New” and click. This will open a new window up where you input your preferred canvas settings. Alternatively, you can also do this by pressing “Ctrl & N” at the same time. You just learned your first Photoshop shortcut. Go you!
As standard your “color mode” will be set to RGB and 8-bit colour. You can leave these settings as they are for most raster-based works. I never work above 8-bit colour personally, as I’ve found the need to. The main settings you will need to pay attention to when setting up the canvas are the width, height and resolution.
Resolution is particularly important. If you are working on an asset which is intended for web use only, you can leave the PPI (pixels per inch) at 72. However, I myself use raster editors to create art, which is intended for print and web preview purposes. My recommendation for print set up on most projects is 300 PPI. This will increase your file size drastically, but if you want your work to look good, it’s a must. The minimum PPI I am comfortable working at is 150. As a general rule, anything less than this will not print up well.
The height and the width of the canvas are fairly self-explanatory. If you are planning on producing a high-quality artwork, it is best to use a large canvas. Especially, works which you are planning on creating for print purposes. I usually work with a 7000 x 5600 pixel or at times a 9000 x 7000 canvas myself. It is far easier to downsize your work without any ill effect than it is to size up. My best advice here is to work with large canvases, which are set to a high PPI.
Setting Up a Canvas in Krita
Krita users, please have a quick read through the above guide for Photoshop, for my advice on canvas set up. Most of this applies to you too. Your set up for canvases in Krita is fairly similar. To create a canvas in Krita, move your mouse to “File” and select “New”. As with Photoshop, this brings up a new window for you to input your preferred canvas settings.
The same rules for large canvases and lots of PPI apply with Krita as they do with Photoshop. The better specs your PC has, in regards to RAM, is really the only thing that will hold you back here. If you are working with a huge canvas and find the experience a laggy mess, then you will be best to size down slightly. By experimenting with different sized canvases, you will soon learn what you can and cannot do with regards to your RAM.
Now, you might have noticed there is a shortcut in the screenshot here, for creating a new canvas. If you press“Ctrl & N” at the same time, it will automatically bring up your canvas setting window. I personally have my shortcut settings adjusted on Krita to mostly mirror Photoshop, with a few subtle changes. We will be looking at setting up shortcuts and adjusting them in future articles.
We will be looking at where to download the best, free brush sets for Photoshop and Krita. How to install your new brushes and back them up. Finally, if we have time, we will complete basic configuration on both programs to ready ourselves for some digital art creation.