I would be remiss if I didn’t have an article on this site about tips on how to adjust your digital art canvas, specifically flipping it. Why? Because so many new artists forget to do it! I’m guilty of it; you are too, so let’s have a friendly reminder about why you should flip your freaking canvas.
I’ll also get into what rotating your canvas gets you and how to use the zoom feature best. But back to flipping for a moment. You hear just about every professional digital artist remind you of it when you watch one of their videos if they’re attempting to teach you anything.
Okay, so you know you’re supposed to flip and rotate your canvas – but why do we do it?
Flipping the Canvas – Untricking the Eye
Our brains do some bizarre things to interpret the things our eyes are seeing. Go on, read some stuff about it. The fact we initially see the world upside down always amuses me. To align with that, when making art – our brains will adjust to the image we’re creating. We get used to what we’re seeing.
Changing what we’re seeing allows us to spot mistakes.
How do we change what we’re seeing? We flip the canvas. Take a piece you’ve finished. Open it in your software again and find your flip canvas option. Wow, that looks different, doesn’t it? It may not even have mistakes, but you’ve looked at it so often when creating it that you fixed an image in your mind. Now, by looking at it from a different perspective – your brain has to readjust.
How to Flip Your Freaking Canvas
If you haven’t read what I wrote on keybindings and you don’t have Flip Canvas Horizontal (at the very least) keybound, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Especially when you are learning how to do art, in most programs, you can find flipping your canvas buried in a menu likely under the image. Either learn that keybinding that’s set by default or create a new one and use it.
I recommend flipping your canvas at least once per hour for every hour you work.
Rotate Your Freaking Canvas
Alright, now that we’ve gotten flipping out of the way – what about changing the angle of your canvas? Have you ever stared at a drawing and said to yourself, “Wow, this would be so much easier on paper because I can move the paper around?”
Yep, you can do that with most digital art software, as well. Do you think they would make you suffer like that?
Rotating your canvas can help get that line flowing in the proper direction, or that texture. It can also relax your wrist, so you’re not shifting to odd angles to try to go in the appropriate direction.
Should I Keybind Rotation?
Pro Tip: Yes. Keybind rotating your canvas just as you would flipping. You want the ability to do it quickly. Those of you on Touch devices have it more accessible, you can use your fingers most of the time to turn the canvas.
Moving about the canvas not only gives more realistic strokes to your art, but it also helps save your most crucial drawing tool: Yourself.
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
You probably were already aware of how to Zoom in and out of your canvas, but if you weren’t – well now you are. Yes, in Digital Art, we have this awesome thing called Zoom that traditional artists don’t. There’s a small problem with zoom, though.
There’s a temptation to either work at 100%, so you don’t miss things or zoom in even further, especially when you’re new.
This is contrary to how you should work. Always start at the smallest zoom you can manage (with a larger brush to compensate), and even when working on details – zoom out frequently. Why? It gives you, quite literally, the whole picture. That shadow you just placed? Maybe it looked perfect zoomed in, but it doesn’t match your overall composition.
If you zoom in further than 100%, you’re putting in details that your audience won’t even notice. You’re doing extra work for nothing.
If you want to get clever – you can use the navigator or even a second instance of your image (if your software allows for it) to stay zoomed out while working in detail.
Flip your freaking canvas frequently. It will save your piece by spotting mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise see because our brains are funny. Rotate your canvas to protect your wrist. And don’t zoom in too far too soon!
I hope these digital art canvas tips have been useful to you. I know I use them often, though not often enough. Try to incorporate them into your workflow to make them permanent.
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