Digital Painting Comparison to Traditional Media

Digital Painting compared to Traditional Media

I am an artist. Currently I choose digital painting as my field of study and chosen media to work with. After spending most of my time as a photographer and being ADD, digital painting is a great fit for me.

While the principles of great art stay the same, there are differences in the medium you choose to work with. This is in no way a slam to traditional media or the artist who create using traditional methods. Following is a simple and brief comparison. It is by no means exhaustive but it will give you a good sense of the differences.

Pastels-

Pastels are a unique combination of a drawing and painting medium. This gives pastels a marked advantage for certain types of work.

Advantage-No problem creating linear and Mass Shapes

Advantage-No solvents required

Disadvantage-Dust is toxic and can also be very messy

Watercolor Painting-

Water colors have a unique look and feel and are very popular with the working pro as well as the weekend painter.

Advantages-Easy clean up with water

Advantages-No solvents required

Advantage-Awesome choice for layering and transparent effects

Disadvantage-Mistakes a difficult to fix

Disadvantage-Good brushes are expensive

Disadvantages-Watercolor is consumable and needs to be constantly replaced

Acrylics Painting

Acrylics are quick drying water soluble paints (Golden Artist Colors and some others are now making some “open” acrylics that have an extended drying time. This will allow some techniques that were previously not possible because of the fast drying time.)

Advantage-Easy clean up with water

Advantage-No solvents required

Disadvantage-Good brushes are expensive

Disadvantage-Pigment is consumable and needs to be constantly replaced

Disadvantage-In general the colors dry flatter than oils and don’t look as good.

Oil Painting

Oil paint are the most widely used medium by working professionals.

Advantage-Highest quality of color in traditional media

Advantage-A large number of painting techniques are easily supported.

Advantage-Mistakes are easily fixed

Disadvantage-Good brushes are expensive

Disadvantage-Pigment is consumable and needs to be constantly replaced

Disadvantage-Messy and the use of caustic solvents is necessary (water based oils are now available, you sacrifice a little color quality

Digital Painting

Advantage-Highest quality of color

Advantage-A large number of painting techniques are easily supported.

Advantage-Mistakes are easily fixed

Advantage-No clean up necessary

Advantage-No solvents required

Advantage-Awesome choice for layering and transparent effects

Advantage-No problem creating linear and Mass Shapes

Disadvantage-Computer hardware and software are expensive

Disadvantage-Traditional media still required to have an “original”

Disadvantage-Not yet fully accepted in the fine art world

Disadvantage-Can feel “sterile” and sometimes lacks the look and feel  we like in the process of creation.

I thought this comparison may stir the pot a little bit… but that is ok.  Comparing digital painting to other mediums caused me to really look at some of the pros and cons of creating art this way. It was a great exercise. I know that I missed some advantages and disadvantages on both sides. As you go through here and discover some things I have missed feel free to comment, let us know your opinion.

Tim

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Comments

  1. Great notes on the different painting techiques.. give me digital art anyday.

    NightinGail Photography

  2. This is a very good post! Keep them comming!

  3. You left out, what is to me, the greatest disadvantage to digital media. Creating a large scale piece with traditional media is a completely different experience for the artist, which affects the result in a subtle, but important way. Computer monitors a relatively small, but a canvas can be as large as a wall. Sure, you can print a digital piece at any size, but the scale the artist works at affects the artist’s choices on everything from from composition, to value, to line weight.

    Another disadvantage to digital media is a lack of tactile texture. A print of a painting is never the same as seeing the original. With digital media there is only the print or the computer display.

    I think digital media, particularly digital painting, is great for illustration work, and yields amazing results for print and online work. It definitely has it’s place along side traditional media and it’s no less worthy than other media. I just think the disadvantages I mentioned are important considerations to think about when choosing a media to work with.

    • Hi Mira=Excellent observations. While the lack of tactile texture is talked about quite frequently I have not considered scale before. I work relatively small compared to large wall murals so I have never thought of that. Given that there is much change when working with a mini even compared to a 40×60, I imagine scaling up to anything like a wall portrait would definitely have important changes. Thanks for sharing!

  4. If you have an IPhone or IPad, checkout the app called Sketch club! I have only owned this app for 14 days and thought I was getting the hang of it in digital art, but there are some incredible digital artists. Wow, I am amazed everyday. As well as ImagineFX magazine. These are the future artists who are doing digital mattes for movies and commercials and… Well, everything out there. Just wow!

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