Comparing digital drawing to traditional drawing

Comparing digital drawing to traditional drawing

I have always been persistent and consistent in my explanation for digital drawing as opposed to traditional drawing. In summary, I feel it is wrong to think of digital drawing as an extension of traditional drawing and thus emulate the writing materials of traditional drawing to digital drawing. Many companies go as far to emulate the feel and quality of traditional tools such as Fresh Paint. I think this is ok but it maybe limiting us to the real versatility of the digital medium. I will try to offer my arguments in this blog post.

In my opinion, the transition from traditional drawing to digital drawing is the same as say going from water color to oils. So with this argument, does it make sense to emulate water color effects in oils or vice versa? There are genuine reasons as to why one artist would favor one medium over the other. It maybe that the subject that the artist has in their mind is better suited for a watercolor scene rather than oils. We have seen impasto painting with acrylics and oils but hard to replicate with water color. From this point of view, why should someone try to emulate the traditional way of drawing and painting for the digital medium?

I have some ideas why this is the case. Firstly, it seems like a good idea when you look at the digital medium to emulate some brushes. For example, a pen, felt tip pen, crayon etc. are all ubiquitous items known to everyone. Companies like to transition folks to this new domain of digital and they do so by giving them familiar items known to them. Most accomplished artists, who are good in their fields do not look at the tools as most of us do. They have the ‘final piece’ firmly held in their mind and utilize whatever tools necessary to make the desired art piece. They do not work from the tools and then decide what to draw. In the same way, we do not necessarily question the techniques and abilities of the Van Gogh painting of Starry Night we ponder and assimilate the actual art piece in a holistic manner.

A favorite application of mine that I have used is Microsoft’s Fresh Paint. This app went further with the digital application to emulate the physics of the paint onto digital. It is very neat to see how you can roll about paint on a screen in almost the same way you do with real paints ie. blending and smudging etc. This is all very good, but is it all that necessary? I believe it is not and I will explain further.

Although the ability to manipulate digital paint looks awesome, at the end of the day, it’s duty is to produce art and the best possible form of art. If we focus our attention on purely creating physics engine that emulates the traditional method of painting and drawing, we are overlooking something much more significant. We are removing our attention away from the pure form of the full capabilities of the digital platform which is where the real power of digital lies. An analogy is that you are familiar with the colored pencils and you want to use pastels and your objective is to produce the colored pencil effects using pastels! This is exactly the thinking behind the emulation of traditional drawing to digital. A true digital application will encompass not just the brushes of the traditional tools (which it can as explained above) but to tap into the rest of the underlying capabilities. This means we can tap into the real medium of what digital offers, such as the colors, tones, luminescence, digital effects and more… and use it to great effect to create artwork like nothing we have ever seen. This is the true essence of art.

Fortunately, there are a few applications like this and with one of them being ‘Paintology’. In this free app, you will see familiar brush tools as well as a range of tools that are abstract but can produce equally satisfying results. This is because Paintology does not limit the brushes to a stereotyped classes but offers a number of brush tools that extend the mediums capabilities.

Try it out and see, just download the app from the Google Store below.

Free Paintology App in the Google Play Store

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