In case all of that sounds like gibberish, here's a brief breakdown of some of the programs and accessories that are available to use in digital art. This is by no means a complete list!
A Wacom tablet is essentially a digital input pad. There's a pressure-sensitive pen and a mouse, and you use both of these draw on the pad & it shows up on your screen. There are a variety of programs you can use with a Wacom, including all of the Adobe creative programs. There is a large range of products available, from the professional-level Cintiq display to entry-level Bamboo or Intuos. These start at less than $100. For reference, my Wacom Intuous tablet is five years old and still does everything I need.
Adobe Creative Suite
I'm using Adobe CS4, mainly Photoshop and Illustrator. It's a little out of date (they're up to CS6 now), but it's not antique or anything. Adobe has a variety of packages available, as well as a 30 free trial of any of their programs on their site. There is also the option of using the Adobe Creative Cloud, which is a cloud version of the Creative Suite, and runs on a subscription (about $50 a month). There's also Adobe Photoshop Elements. It's up to version 10. I have version 5 on my PC. It's like Photoshop light. It has the most common parts of the full version of Photoshop for about a fifth of the price. And there are always older versions available on Amazon, etc.
This is another important part of my digital studio. Like everything else, my scanner is a little older (like 5+ years) but it works great! I like to draw by hand and sometimes color digitally. Or create something start to finish by hand (like watercolors, etc), and then clean it up in Photoshop. Having a scanner is essential. You can use a digital camera in a pinch, but there can be a lot of distortion that way. My scanner really only accommodates a standard sheet of paper so I have to plan accordingly. Learn your scanner's settings too. I scan at a high dpi (dots per inch) to ensure that I have the highest resolution image to work with.
I realize that this lesson is basically a wall of text, but it's important to know what we'll be working with. Next week, we'll go through scanning a doll using my scanner (your scanner may vary), and how to work with it in Photoshop.