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Is digital art cheating? Well, you have no idea how often i'm asked this very question. Or just go to Quora Digest and type in this very question, you'll be bombarded with it! In this blogpost i will try to clarify what digital art is and if it's considered cheating or not.

Oke, digital art, is it cheating? Well, think of it as cleaning the floor. Do we still exclusively use a broom and sit on our knees to scrub the floor? No, we use a vacuum cleaner and a simple or maybe more advanced kind of mop or even polishing machine to make our job abit more conveniënt. Times change, technology advances, and that isn't only exclusive to cleaning, transport, or for example digitalizing data in a hospital, it translates to art too.

If you want to listen to this post instead of reading it, go ahead and watch the video instead!

We artists wouldn't be able to meet up with the current demands if we didn't have technology to help us out, but you for sure can't build an amazing transport vehicle without the knowledge of technology, comfort, laws, safety and what more, the same counts for art. There are basics, many, many basics which need to be learnt rather sooner then later.

  • Lighting
  • Highlight
  • Local color
  • Perspective
  • Color theory
  • Shadows
  • Cast shadows
  • Atmosphere
  • Mood
  • Anatomy (yea we study medical images for that)
  • Storytelling
  • Shape language
  • We master different styles
  • Study history and historic painters
  • And the list goes on and on.

In other words, it's a mastery, like any other profession. Technology can make the work flow speed up and makes it possible to test things without ruining your original painting, but it won't ever make you a master of arts. For every style there is another approach, for every subject another technique. If you draw crappy by hand, your digital art will be crappy too. The drawing tablet is not a magical tool. Yes, things can be done quicker, but without techniques you can be as quick as you want, but if your art sucks, nobody will hire you or buy your art. 

In the past one artist would take months, sometimes years to finish an art piece. Nowdays we live in a quick world, one where everyone wants to have the work done yesterday. This puts an enormous pressure on artists, this is a fact and any kind of technology won't change that, this causes many artists to break under the pressure and never get to flourish, let alone getting a decent salary out of their work. But current technology does make our work abit easier just to help us speed up our workflow. It's still a very taugh and competative market, mind you, but with current technology we are abit better suited to the work thats asked of us.

So, how does digital art actually work? Well, the quickest answer is: Exactly the same as traditional art, but that answer would  be a little too simple.
We work, just like traditional artist, on a canvas. Only, instead of a linnen canvas it's a digital one. I for example use a Huion Camvas Pro 13 as we speak. I draw right on the screen as if it were a linnen canvas. The advantage here is that it doesn't matter that much how big you want to draw. You just zoom out on your work and as long as your computer can handle the size and details of your artwork and you are able to spot any mistakes that will scream at you when it's used in it's original size, a smaller canvas could be considerd abit more conveniënt.
But size considered, we still have to draw our lineart, pick our colorscheme, pinpoint a lightsource, have a sence of understanding of anatomy, landscapes or architecture and so on. Also we draw our art line by line, stroke after stroke. Some people may use the fill-tool for their particular kind of art, this is ideal if one works with big flat untextured surfaces. This you could compare with someone cutting out a piece of paper in a certain color and stick it to their canvas. But most artists, and then i talk about those that tend to call themselve illustrators or concept artists for example, draw every stroke by hand, just like any traditional artist would, from finish to end.

So, what are the advantages of digital painting compared to traditional art?
Well, ofcourse that's debatable, but as a traditional artist going digital, to me they are the following:

  • It takes less physical space when you work
  • The storage is almost non-existent
  • There is no mess to clean
  • It's forgiving and easy to explore. When you draw something in color A you can easily switch to all the other colors in the spectrum to see if something else works better
  • If you properly work in sepperate layers (eg: Keep the basic color, lights and shadows apart) you can pull out one layer (say lights) and change it's strength or color to match the rest of the piece or change the mood (eg: Change from mid-day light to sunset-light by making the tones abit warmer thoughout the piece).
  • It's more efficient, we live in a world where art needs to be digitalized, even when it's a traditional piece, especially when you're working for a company that's abroad or you make concept art for computer games (which is a huge market). It's not easy to digitalize traditional art, you need a specialized company to do that for you as a picture won't usually cut it for you. This takes precious time from you and your employer.
  • It's easier to send a concept for approval that's already digital. Like that you can know within minutes if your idea is what your employer was looking for, instead of days or weeks.
  • Textures are easier to apply. You customize one once, and can use it endlessly after. It's like gathering fabrics with special patterns to use on your traditional painiting, but the digital version won't wear out.
  • It's easy to duplicate, not only to send to your cliënt, but also for sales. Like this an artist can ask a low price for a product but still get an hourly rate (or more) out of it and the customer will be very happy with the good deal they got out of it.
  • And ofcourse, it's cheaper on the long run. Investing in a computer costs some money, but not near as much as the supplies one burns through as a traditional artists through the years. Also, duds don't take up any supplies other then time either when you draw digital.

There are some disadvantages too though:

  • There is no such thing as an 'original' as it's all digital. This doesn't mean though you can't have a 'one of a kind'. When you take this up with the artist they won't share the full-sized high quality piece with anyone and they will use thumbnails and small images only to display the work on social media and in their portfolio. I do this too with my animal portraits.
  • The possibilities are unlimited. You can have any brush, any texture, any color at any moment within your drawing. Infinite possibilities can make choosing a direction alot harder.
  • Some people prefer the feel of a pencil in their hand. Although tablet-designers do their best to imitate the feel of working by hand, it's never the same.

To make things a little more interesting, there are also different kinds of digital art. There is the actual digital art like we spoke about before in the blog, but there is also something called design and matte paintings.
Design is something you see in logo's, schoolbooks, commercials and so on. It's a combination of shapes, texts, white spaces and colors, combined to create a very clear and understandable message. Art though, as in drawing and illustrating, is done to make people wonder, you create a question with your artwork instead of answering one. You want to make sure the viewer wants to see what's around the corner, or what that creature actually is, or how it would behave. You want to send your audience away wondering. That's the essence of art and it doesn't matter if you do that through a fully handpainted artwork or through a matte painting.
A matte painting you ask? What's that? Well, ever wondered how the landscapes were made in Avatar? (The one with the blue people). Well, this was done by an absolute master in his crafts, Dylan Cole. He takes actual pictures, edits them by combining the pictures and draws big parts of them aswell. Elements are taken from a picture and put into a huge drawing to make it all look like a real world. This may sound like cheating, but i as a digital artist that knows her profession quite well won't be able to pull off anything near what Dylan Cole does as a living. It's an absolute mastery! And in it he can create effects that won't be possible to reach when everything would be completely handdrawn. If you really want to get a feel of what it takes to create a matte painting, check out the tutorial of my all-time favourite artist Walid Feghali.

Then what about photobashing? Well, unlike in matte paintings, there isn't actually any drawing involved. When you photobash you take elements of different pictures and add them together to create something new. Is it art? Well, if you create something new you could call it an artform, but if you just change the background to make you look like you went to hawaii and add a nice cocktail in your hand: No, this is not art!

If something can be called art is a fine line. Usually, anything created by a living being with the intention to create something new or original, could be considered art. But practice is art too, you may not want to wave around with a copied artwork of your favorite artist, but as your own style is incorporated, it's still art. Also, a painting made by an elephant could be called art. So therefor, what is art? Really?

I would love to hear your opinion on that question!

Concept art & illustrations for business and personal use

What you can get:
- 2D Creature and character concept art
- Fully rendered illustrations.
- Setup in an environment or backdrop.
- Creature/character-related prop design.
- Creature narrative and development.
- Design elements for further development.

Don't hesitate to contact me about any projects that seemingly don't fit into 'a box'. I'm flexible and always up for a challenge!

Educational & decorative digital wildlife art packs

What you will get:
- Fully rendered art of specific animals or species.
- Closeups of body parts, skeletons & skulls.
- Natural environments to place the animals in.
- Textured backgrounds.
- Design elements and icons.
- Subject-related info for educational purposes.
- JPEG, PNG and PDF.
- Illustrations with and without drop shadow.
- Most images also on transparent backgrounds.
- And much more.


Digital decorative & gaming art packs (Fantasy)

What you will get:
- Fully rendered art of items with and without BG.
- Items can be combined with each other.
- Background textures included.
- Comes in JPEG, PDF and PNG.
- Useful for decoration and/or (tabletop) gaming.

Where to use it:
Baby & children rooms, (tabletop) games, hospitals, schools, mancaves, bathrooms personal prints on pillows, blankets, artboards, bathrooms, etc.


 Custom wildlife and animal portraits

What you will get:
- Fully rendered digital art file.
- With a simple or fully rendered background.
- Black and white or color.
- Animal size up to 80cm high or wide.


Voor Nederlands klik hier.