How to Draw Digital Art Without a Tablet

Guess what? You can create all the amazing digital art you’ve always dreamed of!

Wait, I know all those excuses are screaming right now in your head.

You’re short on cash, you can’t afford a tablet.

You accidentally dropped the tablet you got as a gift off a balcony two stories high!!! (this happened to me).

Well, good news! You can make amazing digital art without a tablet. I did it and so did a lot of other people.

Just take a look at this picture, all done without a drawing tablet.

Drawing made without a drawing tablet

This is actually made by my friend Mirabel. Her drawing turned out better than mine 🙂

Can I Really Draw Digitally Without a Tablet?

It is convenient to have a drawing tablet for drawing digitally. It’s easy to use, it’s a lot similar to drawing with a pencil and paper and many digital art tutorials use drawing tablets.

So, it seems impossible to draw digitally without a tablet.

But then, it’s been done and after reading this, you will be able to create pretty good artwork without a tablet.

I have two ways I make art digitally without a tablet and it’s helped so far.

So let’s get to it!

1) Drawing With a Mouse

All you need is a mouse and a computer with a digital drawing/painting program.

There are tons of programs out there like Krita, SketchBook Pro, Affinity Designer, Paint tool SAI, Medibang Paint, Clip Studio Paint, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc…

I personally like Krita, and Sketchbook because they free. They also have a lot of great features and huge libraries of custom brushes.

Nite Steps To Draw With A Mouse

  1. Draw your art “traditionally” with a good old pencil and paper.
  2. Get a scan of your drawing on your computer. If you’re like me and you don’t have a scanner, take a CLEAR picture with your phone instead.
  3. Open your original sketch in the digital painting program and lower the opacity to about 30%. This should help you trace over your original sketch.
  4. With the Bezier curve tool (assuming you’re using Krita), you can draw curves, wavy lines, and straight lines as you trace. This tool makes it easy to work on your line art.
  5. Adjust the width of the lines with a pressure tool (or some tool similar) to give it a different look. Or you can just use the eraser tool to adjust the weight of your lines. This makes you vary the thickness of your lines.
  6. Fill in the line art sketch with a base color. I just make a new layer below the line art sketch and fill it with color with the paint bucket tool.
  7. Then create another layer for the shadows usually above the base color layer.
  8. Use a color (not grey) for the shadows and put the shadow layer on multiply mode.
  9. You can use a blur tool for blending.

Voila! That’s how I do it. Though you mustn’t follow these steps religiously they can just help you get started.

You can also draw with a mouse without initially drawing with a pencil and paper. The initial sketch would be done with the mouse, it may not be perfect but you could refine it by editing your sketch. Just play around with it and find what works best for you.

I know this sounds strange and you may be wondering, “How in the world am I gonna do that? Drawing with my mouse is so stiff and difficult, blah blah blah.”

Drawing with a mouse will be tricky at first. I was frustrated when I started, but with some practice, I got much better. Learning to draw with a mouse is just like learning to draw with any new medium. You need to put in the time, determination, and a lot of practice.

Here’s a video that shows how to draw with a mouse and Paint Tool SAI program.

Now, what if you don’t have a computer. Not everyone owns a computer so how will you do digital art?

I’ve got you covered.

2) Drawing On Your Phone With Your Finger

If you don’t have a computer, you should have a smartphone or how else would you be reading this?

Your phone can be your ‘drawing tablet’ and your finger your ‘stylus’. A pretty way of improvising don’t you think?

Like drawing with a computer, there are a lot of drawing applications like Procreate, Ibis PaintX, Autodesk sketchbook, Infinite painter, Adobe Illustrator Draw, ArtFlow, dotpict, InspirARTion, etc.

Five Steps to Drawing Digitally With Your Phone

  1. Start with an initial pencil sketch and then take a picture of your finished sketch.
  2. Open it up with your drawing application and trace again as always. Or you can start drawing from scratch, it’s really up to you which step you prefer.
  3. When drawing with your finger, the Zoom tool is your best friend in this scenario.
    ZOOM A LOT! As you zoom in, it makes it easier to readjust and edit as you draw. The phone screen is smaller than that of a tablet so zooming in makes the process less stressful.
  4. To make your lines vary in thickness, always adjust the weight or size of the brushes so you don’t have to worry about the strokes being too thick.
  5. To get rid of wobbly lines while drawing with your finger, you can use a stabilizer tool, which will make your lines smoother looks and prevents them from having that weird look. The name varies a bit depending on the app.

Here’s a video showing how to draw an anime character with just a smartphone.


Here you go! There’s no limitation now!

You might eventually save up to buy a tablet but instead of putting your digital art dreams on hold, you can do these.

Now I won’t lie to you, it might not be easy when you start but what beautiful art comes easy?

You might yell at the computer or throw your phone out of frustration, but just be patient with yourself.

You’ll get the hang of it as you practice. And don’t forget to have fun while at it!

So go make some no-tablet digital art!

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge