From a simple Paint document to more involved rendering apps, there are so many wonderful ways you can explore artistic expressions for children and parents alike. Smartphones, tablets, and computers all have a variety of ways to tap into your artistic calm. We've highlighted some apps used by our art therapists and other recommended programmes, but it may take some exploring to find which ones work best for you and your child. No matter what you choose, keep in mind these therapeutic art tips before you start your digital art adventure. 

10 Digital Art Tips from an Art Therapist

  1. You don’t need fancy equipment and there are many free sources to practice art. Don't worry if you don't have a tablet, even a basic smartphone will have functions you can use! Take some time to explore all your options and don't be afraid to try out new ways of art-making.
  2. One positive about digital art is that you don't need a lot of materials. Don't worry about buying any additional digital brushes either - one brush can be used for a whole drawing or painting. 
  3. Remember your keyboard shortcuts make replicating features quicker and easier. A quick online search will give you a long list of shortcuts that will make you feel like a pro. The Zoom shortcut always comes in handy when you are creating a digital masterpiece. 
  4. If you are making a digital painting, having two views of your piece open at the same time is extremely helpful. With a normal and a zoomed-in view, you can see your artwork from a distance like you would a real painting or examine your creation in magnified detail. 
  5. Make use of layers and overlaying images. By using layers, once you have finished your sketching, you can add colours with one layer and shading with another. You can then switch between layers and make changes more easily as the image develops.
  6. Utilise programmes like Pure Ref to help keep your focus. Pure Ref allows you to keep open a little window while you are working, so you can always see your reference pictures. You can zoom in/out and move it around the page as you progress.
  7. When colouring an image digitally, the colours can sometimes look flat. When you begin shading, make sure you use different colours of the same hue and combine more than one colour to help build tone. 
  8. Use different layer modes, such as an overlay or multiply shades to help you work out where you might want light or dark in your drawing. This is helpful to change the mood or atmosphere in your image.
  9. Even though you are working digitally, you can still flip your canvas as you work or change your viewing angle to see the whole composition of your creation. 
  10. If you are finding it hard to sketch or draw digitally, find one of your paper drawings and photograph it. You can then add it as a layer and use it as you would tracing paper until you find your feet.


Within our art therapy sessions, animation apps are an extremely popular way of creating. Check out the following apps that combine art and animation to get started:


There are some pretty great apps out there that can be used to help you relax. You can scroll through some of the best ones for children and adults. Don't forget to check out some of the fun designs we've posted for you to show off your colouring skills, like the tea illustration being coloured on the mobile to the right. All can be downloaded and coloured digitally if you so choose!