How to learn digital art for beginners in Japan

How to learn digital art for beginners in Japan

by Liam Andersson
Vertex Mode

The opportunity to explore new interests and learn new skills is vast for US service members and their families stationed in Japan. Digital art is a creative outlet that can provide an enjoyable hobby and a potential career path.

A Digital Artist working in Japan
Japan has long been revered as a digital art and gaming mecca. It is home to iconic animation studios and powerhouses in the game development world, including Kyoto Animation and Square Enix.

The industry offers digital art enthusiasts a chance to pursue their careers and create art of the highest quality using cutting-edge software and technology.

Furthermore, the country's entertainment industry generates billions of dollars annually, making it a promising field for aspiring artists.

In my experience, Japan's animation and gaming industries are highly welcoming to foreigners, as they have a more relaxed working environment when compared to other industries.

Studios usually offer casual dress codes, flextime or staged hours systems, many young employees, etc.

Aside from the potential career opportunities, digital art can also serve as a stress-relieving hobby. US servicemen and their families stationed in Japan can use digital art as a creative outlet to unwind and relax after a long day.

Getting started as a Digital Artist
To get started in digital art, one must first understand the basic tools used and the software required. The most common software digital artists use includes Adobe Photoshop for 2D art and Autodesk Maya in the 3D field. Learning how to use these tools effectively can be done through online courses, tutorials, and practice.

Universities and Vocational Schools
US servicemembers and their families stationed in Japan can also take advantage of local resources. Japan has a thriving art community, with many schools and universities offering digital art programs. Some top schools include the Tokyo University of the Arts and Kyoto Seika University.

Online courses
For those who prefer a more flexible learning approach, online courses, and tutorials are available through platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare. These platforms offer digital painting, drawing app graphic design, and 3D modeling courses, among other digital art disciplines.

  • Cubebrush offers the "ArtSchool for Digital Artists" online course.
  • CG Master Academy has an incredible list of courses for Digital Artists.
  • Blender Guru is a popular YouTube channel for 3D artists.
  • Udemy includes a section dedicated to Game Art Courses.

Workshops and Events
Another option is to attend workshops and events hosted by local art organizations. These events provide an opportunity to connect with other artists and learn new techniques and skills from experienced professionals.

  • Born Digital offers various seminars by professionals in the industry (Japanese).
  • MeetUp can be used to look for creative gatherings online and on-site.
  • Bitsummit is an Indie Game Festival that is held in Kyoto.
  • Tokyo Game Show is the most important gaming event in Japan.

The Basics of Digital Art
Digital art is a rapidly growing field that combines traditional artistic skills with the power of technology. If you're considering a career change or are interested in exploring digital art as a creative outlet, you should know a few basics to get started.

Understanding Digital Tools
Digital art is created using digital tools such as a tablet, computer screen, software, and stylus pen. Familiarize yourself with these tools to get started. Consider investing in a good-quality tablet that suits your needs and budget.

Digital drawing tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Procreate are popular among digital artists. Take time to learn and explore their features.

Basic Art Skills
Like traditional art, digital art also requires basic artistic skills, such as understanding composition, color theory, and perspective. If you don't have prior experience, consider taking classes to learn the basics of art or do some self-study.

Many free online resources, such as tutorials and YouTube channels, can help you learn.

Practice and Experiment
Creating digital art is all about practice and experimentation. Set aside time each day to create something new or practice a technique you're struggling with.

Experiment with different brushes, colors, and textures to see what works best for you. Don't be afraid to try new things or make mistakes - it's all part of the learning process.

Find Inspiration
Find inspiration from other digital artists or the world around you. Explore different art styles and techniques to find what resonates with you. Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are great places to find inspiration and connect with other artists.

Build Your Portfolio
As you create digital art, build a portfolio to showcase your work. This can be a website, social media page, or physical portfolio. Your portfolio should showcase your best work, skills, and artistic style.

Currently, the most popular website to publish your artwork is Artstation.

Consider Your Career Options
Digital art offers various career options, including graphic design, illustration, animation, and video game design. Consider which career path aligns with your interests and skills.

Research the job market and see what skills and qualifications employers seek.

Recruiters are a great help when you are looking for a job. Remember to keep your LinkedIn profile updated, and don't forget to connect with people you know. Recruiters in the game industry are constantly looking for talent.

Anyone can become a successful artist with the right tools, skills, and mindset.

Digital Art Software
To become a digital artist in the animation or game industries, one should start by learning industry-standard software. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are widely used for digital illustration, while Procreate has become increasingly popular among digital artists.

For 3D graphics, Autodesk Maya and 3DS Max are commonly used in the animation and VFX industries, while Blender has emerged as a popular open-source alternative.

If you are interested in Digital Sculpting, read about the Best Sculpting Software.

For game development, game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine are widely used, and knowledge of programming languages such as C++ and Python can also be beneficial but not required.

It's important to remember that software tools and trends can change over time, so staying up-to-date on the latest industry-standard software is crucial for success in the digital art industry.

Hardware for Digital Artists
One needs a computer with good hardware specifications to start drawing digitally and learn everything it takes. The hardware requirements vary depending on the type of digital art one wishes to create, but generally, a high-end processor, sufficient RAM, and a dedicated graphics card are necessary.

A drawing tablet is recommended for digital illustration to provide a more natural and precise drawing, modeling, and even photo editing experience. For 3D graphics, a powerful graphics card is required.

It's also essential to have a high-resolution display with accurate color representation to ensure the digital artwork is high quality.

To begin learning digital art, one needs a computer with good hardware specifications, a drawing tablet to create drawings or 3D modeling software, and a capable computer.

Do you need a degree to get a job as a digital artist?
While having a degree can be beneficial, getting a job as a 2D or 3D artist is not always necessary. Many employers in the creative industry seek a strong portfolio with unique pieces and a solid understanding of the skills required for the job rather than a formal degree.

That being said, some careers in digital art, such as working in academia or research, may require a formal degree. Additionally, having a degree in a related field, such as graphic design or fine arts, can help build a foundation of knowledge and skills.

Ultimately, what matters most to employers is your portfolio, technical skills, and ability to work collaboratively in a team.

Building a strong portfolio, continuously learning and improving your skills, and networking with professionals in the industry are all ways to increase your chances of getting a job as an artist.

Explore your creativity
Digital art is an exciting and rewarding field that offers numerous opportunities for personal growth and career development.

US servicemen and their families stationed in Japan have many resources at their disposal to learn about digital art and pursue their artistic passions.

Whether as a hobby or a career, digital art is an excellent way to express oneself creatively and explore new possibilities.
About the Author
Liam Andersson is Senior Editor at Vertex Mode and a 3D Artist with experience in games and movies. He writes about Digital Art and the artists behind it.

Vertex Mode is a Tokyo-based creative blog dedicated to helping creative people become the best digital artists they can be. Vertex Mode provides a comprehensive resource for aspiring artists with a wide range of tutorials, career tips, and insights into the creative industries.

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