(originally published on 1/25/2018)
In recent times I get many questions about digital painting in general.
Especially on conventions, visitors that are totally new to digital art, are surprised to learn that my work is not painted traditionally. Marveling about the brushstrokes printed on canvas, the majority of viewers are blown away of what the technique is capable today.
Besides the usual questions if I am the artist and if this is all drawn by hand, there are many assumptions that are plain wrong. Not in a bad way because in discussions the most visitors love to learn more and appreciate my work and that of many other digital artists much more from that time on.
Below is a list of myths that I encounter fairly often on a convention and my personal opinion about them.
1. Digital Painting is fast
|Illustration courtesy of Alexei Vella|
Not so fast, young Jedi… Digital painting, when used right can save some time (think of shortcuts, filters, no drying-times). But, even when saving some time, most artists are perfectionists, that saved time is easily invested in making an artwork better. Personally I made the experience, when a traditional airbrush piece took me 20-30 hours, a good portrait or full body piece takes the same amount of time to create in Photoshop.
The bottom line: Great art takes time, whether digitally or traditionally, in the end it does not matter.
2. Digital Painting allows you to always go back
|Image courtesy of Pexels|
As much as this one is true – think about “CTRL+Z”– that is a blade with two sides; If you ever want to finish a piece, you have to move forward, you can’t always go backwards. For beginners it can be a bliss and even for pros, if you accidentally moved the wrong layer.
But actually there are better ways like painting over something multiple times. The latter is especially great because analog paper allows only a fraction of erasing or drawing over with colored pencils until the material wears off.
The bottom line: If you want to move forward, you can not go backwards all day.
3. Digital Painting is unhealthy
|Illustration courtesy of Umberto Grati|
I think this comes rather from pros working traditionally sharing doubts about the posture.
Of course; sitting all day is bad for your health and so is having a wrong posture working over a screen or pen-display. On the other side, this is a matter of habits. Most clever artists switch to a standing desk within a few years of working digitally, especially in a professional environment. Even better is a flexible environment where you can switch between standing and sitting every few hours. I also did not ever heard of carpal tunnel from anyone using a stylus, which is a must have when working on a tablet. Most hand related injuries come from using a mouse.
|Bob Ross meme|
Painting or manipulating images can create as much opportunities for happy accidents than their analog counterparts. It might not work as you expect from working with watercolors or other painting techniques, but they can occur and it is always possible to foster an experimental environment as in traditional painting. Programs like Alchemy or Webchemy are proof that there are actually programs that don’t want you to create with them what you intend, but rather focus on what you see.
|Actual auction item from ArtNet.com|
|Tracer / Insane 51 inspired / Yours truly, Oliver Wetter|
|Image from Wikimedia / CC3.0|
|Da Fen Oil Painting Village – mass paintings anyone?|
And to put the technique into perspective, why should a handmounted and signed copy directly from the artist be less worth than one of over 100 Master copies made in China?
It might also be that I amend another myth later.