11 Digital Art Mistakes You Should Not be Making

6 min read

From pixel-perfect portraits to mind-bending landscapes, the world of digital art offers limitless possibilities for creators to express themselves. But as any seasoned digital artist knows, the journey is riddled with both triumphs and pitfalls. 

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide of 11 digital art mistakes you should not be making. We’re here to help you navigate the treacherous waters of the digital canvas, so you can unleash your full artistic potential and create jaw-dropping masterpieces that would make even da Vinci do a double-take.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to dodge common errors and glide smoothly into the world of breathtaking digital creations. Ready? Let’s dive in!

11 Digital Art Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Overlooking the basics of Digital Art Fundamentals
  2. Ignoring the Power of Custom Brushes in Digital Art
  3. Relying too much on Photo References
  4. Neglecting the Importance of a Clean Workspace
  5. Struggling with Layer Management in Digital Art
  6. Skipping the Sketching Phase in Digital Art 
  7. Overworking or Underworking your Artwork
  8. Poor File Management in Digital Art 
  9. Not using Shortcuts and Keyboard Commands
  10. Failing to Take Breaks and Practice Self-care
  11. Not Seeking Feedback and Continuously Learning

1. Overlooking the basics of Digital Art Fundamentals

Mastering the basics of art fundamentals is crucial for creating captivating digital art. Composition, perspective, color theory, and anatomy are the pillars that support your artistic vision. A strong foundation in these areas ensures your work stands out and resonates with your audience.

To improve composition:

  • Study the rule of thirds and the golden ratio, and analyze the works of your favorite artists. 
  • Understanding perspective adds depth and realism to your art, so practice drawing objects from different viewpoints. 
  • Color theory helps you create a mood that resonates with viewers, so learn the color wheel and experiment with palettes. 
  • Lastly, a solid grasp of anatomy brings life to your characters, so study human and animal anatomy, and practice drawing various body types and poses.

2. Ignoring the Power of Custom Brushes in Digital Art

Embracing the power of custom brushes can elevate your digital art to new heights. These unique tools offer a range of textures, patterns, and effects that can add depth, detail, and personality to your work. Custom brushes save time and effort, enabling you to achieve specific looks or styles with just a few strokes.

To explore the world of custom brushes, visit online marketplaces and forums, such as DeviantArt, Gumroad, and Adobe’s Brush Libraries, where you can find free and premium brushes created by fellow artists. Additionally, many art software programs offer the option to create your own brushes, allowing you to tailor your tools to your specific needs and style.

3. Relying too much on Photo References

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Photo references offer valuable guidance for digital artists but overreliance can hinder creativity. To maintain balance, use references for inspiration rather than duplication. Incorporate unique elements, or modify colors, lighting, or textures.

Also, practice drawing from imagination to enhance visual memory and creativity. This enables better interpretation and adaptation of photo references into your unique style.

4. Neglecting the Importance of a Clean Workspace

Maintaining a clean, organized digital workspace is vital for productivity in your artistic process. Start by organizing layers and naming them appropriately. Use folders for related files and maintain a consistent naming convention.

Regularly remove unused files and assets, and customize your software interface to suit your needs. These steps will enhance focus, efficiency, and ease navigation in your digital art workspace.

5. Struggling with Layer Management in Digital Art

Working on a single layer in digital art can be risky, as it limits your flexibility and control over your artwork. Mistakes become harder to rectify, and editing specific elements can be challenging without affecting the entire piece.

Using multiple layers offers numerous benefits, such as isolating elements, preserving your work’s history, and allowing for non-destructive editing. Layers provide the freedom to experiment with colors, effects, and composition, enabling you to make adjustments without permanently altering your original artwork.

To effectively manage layers, follow these tips:

  • Name your layers descriptively to easily identify their contents.
  • Group related layers in folders for better organization.
  • Use layer masks for non-destructive editing, allowing you to hide or reveal parts of a layer without erasing pixels.
  • Leverage blending modes to create interesting effects and interactions between layers.

6. Skipping the Sketching Phase in Digital Art

The sketching phase is crucial in digital art, aiding in planning composition, maintaining proportions, and ensuring cohesion. It allows idea exploration, early problem identification, and vision refinement.

To effectively sketch, start with loose lines to set structure and flow. Gradually add details and adjust proportions while maintaining balance. Experiment with multiple sketches to foster creativity.

7. Overworking or Underworking your Artwork

Balancing overwork and underwork in digital art is vital for aesthetic appeal. Overwork can cause muddy colors and loss of detail, while underwork might make art seem incomplete or shallow.

Overworking signs include excessive blending and multiple focal points. Underwork can result in flat colors, limited tones, or insufficient detail.

To find the right balance, follow these techniques:

  • Step back and review your work regularly, assessing its overall impact and identifying areas that need refinement or simplification.
  • Set time limits to prevent overthinking or over editing.
  • Use reference images to gauge the level of detail appropriate for your subject matter and style.
  • Seek feedback from peers or mentors who can provide an unbiased perspective on your work.

8. Poor File Management in Digital Art 

Poor file management can hinder your productivity as a digital artist, leading to lost work, frustration, and wasted time searching for files. Disorganized file management can also make collaboration with others more challenging, as it becomes difficult to share and locate specific assets.

To avoid these issues, implement the following best practices for file management:

  • Adopt a consistent naming convention for your files, incorporating elements like project name, version number, and date.
  • Organize your files into folders based on projects, clients, or themes, ensuring related assets are grouped together.
  • Regularly back up your files using cloud storage or external hard drives. 
  • Archive old projects and assets to declutter your workspace and free up storage space.

9. Not using Shortcuts and Keyboard Commands

Not using shortcuts and keyboard commands in digital art can slow down your creative process, reducing efficiency and causing unnecessary frustration. Mastering these tools can significantly improve your workflow, allowing you to access frequently used functions quickly and effortlessly.

Shortcuts enable you to perform tasks such as switching tools, adjusting brush size, or toggling between layers with just a few keystrokes, freeing up valuable time for focusing on your artwork. They also reduce the need for repetitive mouse movements, potentially decreasing the risk of strain injuries.

Some essential shortcuts and keyboard commands for digital artists include:

  • [Ctrl/Cmd] + Z: Undo
  • [Ctrl/Cmd] + S: Save
  • [Ctrl/Cmd] + T: Transform
  • [Ctrl/Cmd] + C and [Ctrl/Cmd] + V: Copy and paste
  • [Ctrl/Cmd] + E: Merge layers
  • [Ctrl/Cmd] + [ or ]: Change brush size
  • [Spacebar]: Temporarily switch to the Hand tool for easy canvas navigation

10. Failing to Take Breaks and Practice Self-care

Failing to take breaks and practice self-care can lead to burnout, which negatively impacts creativity and productivity. Extended periods of stress and overwork can result in physical and mental exhaustion, diminishing your ability to produce high-quality digital art and stifling your creative potential.

To avoid burnout, incorporate breaks and self-care into your routine with these tips:

  • Schedule regular breaks throughout your workday to rest your eyes and stretch your body. This can prevent eye strain and musculoskeletal issues associated with prolonged screen time and repetitive motions.
  • Set boundaries between work and personal life, allocating time for relaxation and leisure activities to recharge your creative energy.
  • Prioritize sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet to support overall health and optimize cognitive function.

11. Not Seeking Feedback and Continuously Learning

Embracing constructive criticism and continuous learning is essential for growth as a digital artist. Feedback helps identify strengths and weaknesses, offering valuable insights for improvement. Engaging with fellow artists allows you to learn new techniques, stay inspired, and expand your creative horizons.

To find and engage with a supportive artistic community, consider the following:

  • Join online forums, social media groups, or art platforms like DeviantArt, ArtStation, and Behance, where you can share your work, receive feedback, and learn from other artists.
  • Participate in local art workshops, classes, or meetups to connect with like-minded individuals and hone your skills through hands-on experiences.
  • Seek mentorship from established artists or offer guidance to less experienced artists, fostering a mutually beneficial learning relationship.


In conclusion, avoiding these common digital art mistakes will set you on the path to success. Apply these tips, embrace continuous learning, and nurture your creativity to unlock your full artistic potential. 

Remember, your digital art journey is an ongoing process of growth and self-discovery. Enjoy the adventure!

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