As any PC gamer knows, keybindings save you time.

Keybindings Improve Your Digital Art Workflow

If you’re not using some form of keybindings, or shortcuts, in your digital art workflow, then you’re drastically increasing your time hunting through menus.

Its time to change that.

Let’s improve your workflow with keybindings.

What Are Keybindings?

Keybindings are shortcuts – usually called keybindings because they’re shortcuts you would typically use with a keyboard. They can be any combination of keys that access a tool or menu in a program and perform that tool or menu function in the program with a single press. Have you ever pressed CTRL + C to copy something?

Yep, you guessed it. You used a keybinding.

How Keybindings Improve Your Workflow

By using a swiftly accessed shortcut, you cut out the seconds you would spend hunting through a menu in a program. Those seconds add up. Do you do digital art now? Think of how long it takes you to find something in a menu in Photoshop. Now multiply that over the amount of time you spend on a piece of work.

Keybindings are not just for accessing menus, though, but performing tasks that you would need to release your stylus for and pick up your mouse. Or leave your canvas to access menus. Think of how arduous your life would be if you were constantly changing your brush size through a slider off your painting. You’re not doing this, right? Well, if you are, you’ll stop that by the end of this article.

Keybindings on a surface pro
So hooked on keybindings that I couldn’t operate my Surface Pro for drawing without them.

Building Up Your Muscle Memory

When you first start using keybindings, though, it takes a little bit of time to get used to them. You have to build the muscle memory, the connection in your brain, and the physical action that says, “if I press this, it will do this.”

If you are using a standard keyboard for your keybindings, this will take time and practice. If you have some of your keybindings mapped to express keys on your tablet, you can help yourself out by labeling them with little stickers until they become second nature. (And then cry when you switch tablets.)

Why Changing Your Keybindings Should Be Done Rarely

Because you’ve built up your muscle memory, or are building it up, changing up your keybindings frequently is not the best idea. That goes for trying to find a new combination, switching programs, or changing tablets. Try to keep your keybindings the same with everything you use, so you can continue to improve the speed of your workflow by using familiar shortcuts.

Of course, if you find your configuration isn’t set up to a desirable state – go ahead and change them. Just don’t change them again for at least twenty one days. Twenty-one days is how long it takes to effect change, and how long it will likely take for you to get used to the new configuration.

How to Access Your Keybindings

If you do find yourself needing to either change the default keybindings, familiarize yourself with them, or change your previous ones, here’s a list of ways to access them in some popular programs.

Most Used Keybindings

Once you’ve figured out how to access your keybindings, you’ll want to make sure you have the most used ones set up. These are going to be for most digital illustrators/painters:

  • Brush size
  • Color Picker (Eye Dropper)
  • Eraser
  • Brush
  • Zoom
  • Flip Canvas
  • Rotate Canvas
  • Transform

Of course, if you find yourself using something frequently – either look for a keybinding or set one up for that feature!

Express Keys for Keybindings
I chose this tablet -because- of the express keys for extra keybindings!


Now that you know the primary keybindings and how keybindings can improve your workflow – you’re using them, right? Or at least you are taking a closer look at the ones you are using or the tasks you’re doing repetitively to see if you can bind it instead.

Have some friends that are new at art and digital art software? Are they unaware of keybindings? Maybe just stubborn? Share this article with them using the buttons below!