Five Programs you will need to learn.


Sketch Book Pro

This is the starter kit drawing program for the intimidated and computer inept artist. I have shown this program to tattoo artists around the country. Artists that had never drawn digitally took to Sketchbook very quickly.

Sketchbook is a stripped down drawing program. It is very intuitive for a traditional artist to acclimate him or herself too. I discovered that this program had very recognizable tools and brushes. While it offers some very powerful functionality to improve your work flow, it doesn’t have all the buttons and panels that more sophisticated drawing programs offer. This makes it less confusing. This program is so fun. You will get drawn in for days at a time. (See what I did there?)

Photoshop CC

This is the Big Kahuna. This is the program that your friends know how to use but you are too afraid to try. I agree that the interface looks daunting. It takes bit to learn the lingo. I had experience with Photoshop 20 years ago, but since its introduction, the PS current release is packed with everything you need in one box. This is probably why the traditional artist is afraid to tackle it head on.

The great news is you don’t have to tackle all of it at once! You don’t even have to use 80% of the program. My advice for you to understating the world of PS is to only use the tools you understand at first. What makes PS unique from a classic computer program is the ability to solve a problem in more ways than one. Being a creative artist will kick in and you will start to problem solve and explore in your own way. Over time I found many “AHH HA!” moments. In PS there is more than one way to skin a cat.

You might find yourself taking the long way around the mountain figuring out how to do the most simple tasks. Isn’t this the learning process that got you here today? Just relax and enjoy the ride. Luckily, Terry White has almost all the answers!

Lightroom CC

Lightroom is another great program in the Adobe Creative Cloud family. If you have been using your filters in Instagram then you will quickly catch on to LR.

The biggest strength to LR is it uses non-destructive editing to manipulate your photos. A metadata file is created and is stored separately from your original file. This metadata tells the picture to have less contrast or more saturation. If you crop, tint, tilt or vignette your photo all the information is stored in the metadata. The original photo is never harmed. This is super cool.

The down side is you need to understand how file storage works. When LR shows you your photos and metadata together with your adjustments, it needs to know exactly where that ORIGINAL PHOTO is located. If you move the original photo, you break the link and you will have to tell Light Room where you put it. Not that big of a deal really, just don’t move the photos.

What’s great about light room is how nicely you can organize your pictures. Using catalogs you can make lots of organized picture groups. When you are ready to use the photos on the internet or print, there is an EXPORT process that can help you get the correct file size for the photos intended use—really cool for fast loading web pages and high quality portfolios.


This is not a program. Dropbox is the most important feature to your jump into the digital world. All the programs above are going to be linked together if you use Dropbox. Think of Dropbox as a big filing cabinet that magically holds all your pictures, drawings, and folders together. You probably already do something like that with a backpack or binder. Drop box is a cloud account that can be linked to any device you own or accessed via a web browser when your device is not available.

For 100 dollars you can get 1TB of storage! Holy cow I love that. Here is why. For about 100 bucks you can by a 1TB external hard drive—a physical hard drive that you carry around and hope you never lose. As the saying goes, “If it’s not saved in two places it doesn’t exist.” If you don’t have a duplicate of that hard drive then you are at risk of losing everything.

Here is the rub with external hard drives. You are supposed to replace them every year. They are physical so they do and will go bad. So instead of dealing with the trouble of all of that, just get Dropbox! They mirror their sites and I have never experienced any down time to their servers.

Dropbox deserves its own blog, so for now just get the free version that gives you a few gigs of space and watch how much you use it.

Quickbooks Online

Ok creative people! Why are you a starving artist? Because math sucks. Keeping good books has been our downfall. Let’s admit that instead of getting a full comprehensive picture of our income and profit margins to understanding what is in our budget, we say, “Hell! I just do another tattoo to pay for that!” Guess what? Help is here.

Quickbooks Online is a monthly service that will cost you about 100 dollars a year but will save you way more than that in the big picture.

This is a great way to be organized when it comes tax time. Not only that, it will give a real picture of what your money looks like. Tattoo artists have holes in their pockets. They can’t quite get all their cash into a savings account or bank. They like to buy shiny things along the way to the bank. While they portray a successful self-employed business mogul, they can’t figure out where their hard earned money went. Now you can be that financially secured person and track your expenses.

Quickbooks is user friendly and comprehensive. If you use your bank card for transactions it will help you see what you’re spending your money on. QB links all of your accounts and pulls some key data directly from those accounts giving you visual displays! Showing the information visually is something every artist needs to help them understand their money.

QB can put together pre-built reports in the form of graphs, or you can customize the reports.

At the end of the Tax year, your accountant will be so please and you will feel so smart when you say, “I have everything here in Quickbooks. Let me give a log in password.” Oh yeah! Want to know the best part? There is nothing for you to lose! It is securely stored for you and you can access it anywhere.


Times have changed. So if you want to complain about how much better it used to be, I understand. I’ll be here to cheer you on to show you how great it is now.

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