Pursuing that passion with digital art

Aqilah Rahman

A piece of art, regardless of what form it takes, can evoke a wide range of emotions from an audience. In some cases, art inspires one to become an artist so to make their own creations.

Local artist Tuna Annuar, 34, has been drawing since high school using paper, pens and pencils.

“It inspired me how people bring joy and excitement to an image they create,” she said. “I want to do the same, to create something that can make people laugh and feel better.”

She is now a fulltime digital artist, doing background and illustrations among others, while also trying new things such animation and 3D objects.

Her passion sparked at an early age, as she often watched cartoons and read comics. She first explored digital art in 2003, when her family bought a computer.

“The only things I had were just a scanner and a mouse,” she said, fondly reminiscing on how she would draw painstakingly with just a mouse before moving on to a stylus pen.

She found digital art difficult at first, chalking it up to her lack of knowledge and the little support she had. She joined art platform sites such as DeviantArt where she posted her artworks when she was still learning.

Photos show digital art pieces by Tuna Annuar. Her passion sparked at an early age, as she often watched cartoons and read comics. She first explored digital art in 2003, when her family bought a computer. PHOTOS: TUNA ANNUAR

“At first, I wasn’t very good at what I did. I was given positive and sometimes negative remarks,” she said.

All the feedback, encouragement and criticism helped improve her art. “I follow people who inspire me and want to be as good as them, so I kept drawing day and night.”

She began to see improvement in her art and gradually moved on to work with better tools. The current software she uses are Paint Tool SAI and Clip Studio Paint. As for the tablet and stylus, she uses a Huion KAMVAS GT-19.

Over time, the number of people who followed her art also increased, prompting her to open art commissions for a living. Aside from doing commissions, she sometimes helps other local artists make comics.

Tuna recently participated in creating a comic called The Bubble Princess & The Curse of The Stone Heart. The story follows a girl with superpowers who goes on a journey to search for her missing father.

“I mostly did the background,” she said, working with four other artists. The team has already made a comic teaser and is currently looking for funding.

Software can be expensive and some of them require a recurring payment, but there are many you can get for free, said Tuna.

For people new to digital art, she recommends free alternatives to Adobe such as Photoshop (Kirita, GIMP, Photopea), Illustrator (Inkscape, BoxySVG, Vectr), and Animate (Blender, Open Toonz). There are also Paint Tool SAI and Clip Studio, which only require a one-time payment.

As for physical materials, such as a tablet and a stylus pen, there are many tools on the market but it isn’t necessary to get high-end ones.

“Any tablet is fine as long as you adjust it right,” she said, based on her own experience. “I’ve used a cheap Wacom tablet and it worked fine as long as it had a decent pressure pen.”

These materials can be found at computer stores, but some of the more advanced tools like Cintiq tablets are difficult to find.

Alternatively, you can draw on a smartphone or an iPad with a drawing app. The upside of drawing apps is that you don’t necessarily need any extra tools – you can just use your hand. “I’ve met a local artist who drew on his phone using his finger,” she said.

Some digital artists start off by learning the fundamentals via traditional art before going digital. When asked if it’s beneficial to do so, Tuna said either way is fine.

“It’s a matter of how much time you put in and the tools you use,” she said.