Why digital artists shouldn’t ignore traditional art skills 

June 14, 2023

Although you can forge an entire art career with a tablet alone, there are still plenty of reasons to at least keep a sketchbook handy. 

Previously, we discussed why traditional artists should give digital art a try. Now, we’re going the other direction – why should digital artists make sure to brush up on their traditional art skills?  

Fundamentals Digital Artist Try Traditional
Image sourced from Burst

1. It’s the simplest way to practice the fundamentals 

I’m adamant that every digital artist should practice with just pencil on paper – at least sometimes. It simplifies drawing down to its essence, and reveals just where your strengths and weaknesses are.  What can you do without an “undo” function, brush packs, liquify, or digital layers – just graphite and wood pulp? Pencil drawing is the ultimate test of raw skill, and my personal favorite way to practice face and body proportions is by drawing and erasing over and over until I get it right. 

Traditional painting has a lot of advantages in teaching the fundamentals of how painting works, too. A lot of the best digital painters out there, such as Feng Zhu and Marco Bucci, attest to how they started learning traditionally. 

2. It’s more tactile 

Traditional art gives you the pleasant “scritching” of pencil on paper and the ability to gauge brushstrokes by feel. While Wacom pen tablets and displays feature etched glass or textured hard plastic, and replicate the “scritch” fairly accurately, there is no true substitute for the real think. 

Also, unlike drawing with a flat tablet like the Wacom Intuos, there’s no disconnect between your hand and the image in front of you. And of course, there are some traditional media, like sculpture, that can never truly be replicated – even 3d sculpting isn’t quite the same. 

Android Digital Artist Try Traditional

3. It’s not tied to electricity 

You can practice traditional art anywhere you can carry a sketchbook and some pencils. You can take it to the park, sketch on public transit, or keep yourself entertained during a power outage. There are also artist meetups and Drink & Draws to attend. Check for one in your area! 

Some Wacom products are more portable than others – Wacom Intuos is Android compatible, for example. But the setup still requires a smartphone and battery power. Pencil and paper can truly go almost anywhere. 

4. You can sell your originals 

With digital art, you can only sell prints. But traditional art opens up the world of selling original art at craft fairs and even gallery showings. They’ll frequently fetch much higher prices, reaching into the hundreds or thousands of dollars for the most sought-after artists. That can become a significant source of income over time. 

Woman looking painting Digital Artist Try Traditional
Image sourced from Burst


There’s plenty of room for both digital and traditional art, and practicing both might lead to the most growth for you as an artist. In fact, most artists will likely end up doing both to some extent or another, even if it’s working full digital but keeping a sketchbook around for practice, or working traditionally but post-processing digitally. But which you choose to specialize in is ultimately down to your preference. 

Note: the feature image on this blog post is by Sara Williams and was sourced from Burst.

CS Jones avatar

About the Author

Cameron “C.S.” Jones is a West-Philly-based writer and illustrator who’s been contributing to Wacom for three years now. You can see more of his work, including most of his contributions to this blog, at, or follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

Related posts:

Artist Lynn Chen on her career, artistic process, and advice for young artists

Artist Lynn Chen on her career, artistic process, and advice for young artists

This Creative Drawing Exercise Will Change How You Use References – with Bobby Chiu

This Creative Drawing Exercise Will Change How You Use References – with Bobby Chiu

The top seven digital painting mistakes to avoid, with Proko

The top seven digital painting mistakes to avoid, with Proko

How to design your own custom Holiday wrapping paper

How to design your own custom Holiday wrapping paper

Connect with Wacom on social media

Someone else craving a Matcha fish? 🍦🐠

Thank you @patrick_4d for showing us the behind the work of your amazing art 🎨

#3dart #conceptartist #digitalpainting
616 7
We’re excited to announce that Panchita!! premieres tomorrow! Thank you to @weareunsaid and all partners who worked on this labor of love, a short film based on a true experience from a volunteer who got to see the reality lived every day in informal settlements. Look out for the link tomorrow in our reels and stories highlights. 💙⁣
#madewithwacom #unsaidstudio #panchitamovie #panchita
212 2
Embrace creativity on-the-go with the new Wacom One. 🚀⁣
Sketch your ideas in a coffee shop or any spot that inspires you! 🎨 ☕⁣
Your studio is wherever you are 💫⁣
Where is your favorite place to draw?⁣
#Artistlife #Creativity #Creativeinspiration #Artistsinsight
218 1
#WacomSale alert! 📣🛍️🛒⁣
Know of someone dreaming of a Wacom? Save $80 USD on Wacom #IntuosPro right now! Head over to our USA estore to find out more - visit the link in our bio! ⁣
#WacomIntuosPro #IntuosPro #WacomTablet #WacomNews⁣
#Wacom #GiftGuide
163 0
Five mobile games you didn't know you could play using #WacomOne 😏🎮⁣
@apolloscelticswan 🤘🏼
#wacom #gaming #gamer #gamertok #cozygames
542 5
Ever dreamed of starting your carreer as an artist but don’t know where to start? @janwischermann  professional photo retoucher, shares a pearl of wisdom for all you emerging artists out there. ✨

Take that first step with the Wacom One and see where it takes you. Discover more in the link in bio!

#CreativeInspiration #Photoretouching #Artistsinsights
245 9
🎉 A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who made Connected Ink event 2023 an unforgettable celebration of creativity! 🚀✨

Let’s keep the creative sparks alive and enjoy this awesome after-event movie! 🔥✨

See you next year!

#ConnectedInk #CreativeChaos
389 15
Many artists start with traditional tools before they switch to digital, and transitioning can feel daunting and even scary - making them delay it. ⁣
But is it ever too late to start? ⁣
Our friend @apolloscelticswan has some words of wisdom for those starting "late" in digital art. ⁣
When did you make the transition to digital? Was it scary? What helped you?⁣
Let us know in the comments 👇⁣
#DigitalArt #DigitalArtist #WacomTablet #MadeWithWacom #ArtistLife
2800 27
A little piece of the creative process of @amanda.ninji_illustration 💫

We love to see the work behind the final piece ❤️ 

Share yours with the hashtag #MadewithWacom so we can feature you next!

#Cintiq16 #conceptartist #digitalpainting
684 7