How to start off designing 2D art?

Hello, I want to know what is the best(if possible, free) software’s to design 2D PFP/ thumbnail GFX/ icons, some helpful video links, what to expect, how much time it should take, and pretty much anything that can help me in the process of beginning to design 2D art, and some helpful links too. Thank you in advance!


I started off from GIMP when I had art classes in the past. I never looked up tutorials unless I had some effects that I wanted to achieve.

What I began with was randomly drawing, doodling and painting. This will give you a greater feel in the tools you have in hand. Practice makes perfect. Trial and error.

So far I haven’t extended my depth into 2D art. I do know that people has their own art style. If you found one that you’re comfortable with, try sticking with it until you found another.


You could mess around in PaintNET that’s where a lot of people start off

if you find out you like to design and want to go further I highly recommend Adobe Illustrator easy to use once you get used to it and amazing for 2D Art, Logos, Etc

I made this UI right when I got it a week ago or so

just watched a view videos on how to use it and I was making UI easily (though I do have previous experience in photoshop)

It’s really just about practice, I am insanely bad at drawing, art etc but im pretty good with UI and GFX

as shown here I cant draw lol

that’s because I don’t practice drawing, if I did I would be better so just practice on what you want to improve and it will improve


While I am not so well versed in 2D art, I’m more inclined to the drawing side. Though, I’d recommend you to try programs such as GIMP and Paint.NET.
They are very useful for beginners! Good luck.


Well for thumbnails, I use blender. If you are interested, there is a short simple tutorial here.


Thanks for sharing my tutorial that is gone because there is a similar one so RIP.

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Aw! Can you link it? I was going to try the tutorial later on today!

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This is the tutorial Make your first GFX Design!


That’s yours, you said there was one like yours.


Good suggestions above.

Photoshop will be able to do most of what you need in one package, but it isn’t free, and it isn’t easy to learn (compared to some of the others). The best free software to use will depend a little bit on the requirements of your specific design. Here are some of my thoughts on a few free options for the PC (some already mentioned, some not).

  1. Paint(dot)Net - Many have recommended this. I’ve just started learning it thanks to this forum post, so I don’t have much to add. It does seem to have a good following here on the forum, it’s easy to use, capable of producing good results, and it’s free. For those reasons, I’d make it one of your top options.

  2. InkScape - This is your free alternative to Adobe Illustrator (basics covered in this forum post). It’s very easy to use (my 9-yr-old uses it). You build things with curves and shapes (vector art) rather than coloring pixels directly. The results are often cleaner and sharper than what is easy to get/maintain with a paint program. Good for things that need a clean graphic-design look (logo, UI, etc).
    convex_SM dudeandflower
    Fun InkScape Tutorial Series

[If you use just those two (and maybe a 3D program like Blender for renders of some things), you should have the tools needed to create really nice 2D artwork for most any purpose.]

The rest of these are more useful if you have a tablet/stylus to work with, but #3 and #4 are worth checking out even if you don’t.

  1. Krita - Good for concept art, certain game textures, and painterly stuff in general. It’s missing some of the simplicity that Paint(dot)Net appears to have, and I find it a bit weak on filters and some image manipulation features. The brushes are great though, and since I tend to mix and match programs to get the effect I’m after, I find myself going back to this one regularly.
    Free Krita Tutorial Series

  2. Gimp (or GimpShop)
    Most of the other programs I mentioned have weak photo manipulation tools. While Gimp and GimpShop are capable in terms of painting and such, I mostly use them for their filters and color correction and other things related to modifying the look of a work that’s already been created. I’ll sometimes use these for text if inkscape or Krita doesn’t have what I’m after.
    [Not crazy about GimpShop as a paint app, but layering on the filters is easy and the functionality is comparable to PS in other respects]
    Gimp Basics

  3. MyPaint - This one is limited in many ways, but it excels as a sketch program. The brushes are super smooth and the interface is open and clean. Good for roughing out ideas importing the work into another app. (Looks like there’s a new version with new features (something to investigate).)
    Some MyPaint Tutorials

Unfortunately, I haven’t done any 2D art for use with Roblox yet (just starting a game logo with Paint(dot)Net), so nothing to compare and contrast in that respect. Any and all of these programs could be used to make (or enhance) really nice 2D PFP/ thumbnail GFX/ icons. The best part about “free” is you can load them all and see what works for you.

As you work through everyone’s suggestions and tutorials for particular apps, remember that you can open your files in other programs and add a little something extra. You can make something in Blender and render it (artists like the forum’s own i5k do a great job of using 3D apps for 2D graphics). Open it in a paint program and add some things or apply filters. Use a different program for your text. The choice of software doesn’t have to be binary.

If you linked an example of the kind of style you are aiming for when you start making these things, it could lead to more targeted recommendations. The artist who made the exact image you like may be able to provide tips. The power of community!

Best of luck on your journey into 2D art :four_leaf_clover:


Thanks for including the link to my tutorial. (Using the website name so newbies will click it instead of the incorrect link format.) I will say that if anyone ever has questions starting off and needs more specifics than my tutorial goes to say, I’m glad to answer any questions. Just shoot me a message on here and I’ll work to find an answer with ya. :slight_smile:

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If you’re into vector art, you can use Vectr. It’s a bit rough at times, but it gets the job done most of the time.

If you’re into pixel art, then use Piskel. It’s great and uses cloud saving. You can export into GIF animations and sprite sheets if you want.

I’d also recommend GIMP as many others here have stated.