Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts: Traditional vs. digital art?

Ever since computers came to the scene in the middle part of 20th century there has been no limit to the things the little machines could do that matches or worse yet surpass the capabilities of the human mind. One of them being the way we draw and paint.

With programs like Adobe Photoshop, paint Shop Pro, and Corel Painter artists of all ages and levels have the power to create visually striking images almost with ease and virtually no mess or worries. And with introduction of the Wacom tablet it’s just that easier to draw and paint exactly the way you would with a pencil on paper or paintbrush on canvas. Considering the sometimes outrageous costs of some of the art tools the computer is the most economical way to experiment and take risks without the mess and the waste. And it’s one of these reasons that knowing how to draw and paint digitally is a must to secure a rewarding career in the entertainment arts field like animation , games, and advertising.

But with the ease and convenience of digital painting there are drawbacks. As mentioned there are no limits to what can be done on a computer with a right paint program and a Wacom tablet. Well that’s the problem- no limits, no end, no satisfaction, no permanency. Images can be painted over and over and over with different colors, different shapes, different strokes, etc etc etc. one could sit in front of that glaring screen til next Tuesday and they would never notice, and even then they feel they won’t be finished. And they end up with a monumental headache and blurry vision they will soon have to pay a visit to the optometrist. Another thing is quality. Sure digital painting of a Van Gogh’s Starry Night looks spectacular and clean and vibrant, a little too perfect that is. It just looks too flat and artificial. There’s a good reason why this and many other great works in oil and pastel and tempera are priceless. On top of it all, it’s just as much money to print out those images once you’re done with it, that is if you really must have the actual printed piece in your hands; you can save the money on that and leave it on your hard drive, but there’s the issue with the drive crashing…

I’ve done both traditional and digital paintings, but personally I’ve been more drawn to the former for the very reasons above. I don’t mind getting dirty and spending fortunes on those pricey pens and drawing pads. No matter how well Painter emulates the naturalistic brush strokes it cannot substitute for physical, tangible single mark that cannot be altered once it touches the canvas or paper. Art is supposed to be good, messy fun where it results in one memorable, unique image you can be really proud of, it can not be duplicated. And I’d like to be holding up a finished masterpiece in my hands and frame them on a wall.

So what do you prefer? Traditional or Digital?

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