The digital world has revolutionised the way in which we can create art. It is now easy for anyone with access to the right technology and programs to release their creations upon the world. So, just what are the main differences between digital and analogue art?
Analogue art is that which is created by using traditional materials such as pencils, paints, paper, canvas and film. Digital art can be made using a wide variety of illustration, painting and photography computer programs.
Sadly, even today you will find pockets of people stating that “digital art isn’t real art because it’s made by a computer.” You will find some using a built-in filter and simply running it over a photograph, but this is not the same as producing real digital art.
Paintbrushes become gaming mice and styluses. Paint is replaced with blocks of carefully chosen pixels. The base process is different but the results, in the right hands can be very similar.
There is a lot more fuss involved with traditional arts than with digital. It can take a long time to get everything set up before you can even put paintbrush to paper. For many, this is part of the important ritual that is painting. Whilst others, like me curse as they can’t find that favourite brush. Then there’s the familiar joy of remembering that you’ve run out of the specific paper or paint colour needed for a project. Of course, this always happens after you’ve dragged everything else out.
When I’m creating a digital artwork, all I need to set up is switch my PC on, run the appropriate art program and I’m good to go. Batteries and power supply are the only real enemies here for me. So long as I have both I can paint until I drop. I have thousands of colours at my fingertips and I’m mostly paper free, apart from the odd quick reference sketch.
The mess involved with analogue art is a freeing yet annoying aspect of creation. There is a joy to be had at having painty fingers. This lovely feeling tends wears off as soon as you touch your face, furniture or try to eat something. Paint water was another bane of mine. It didn’t matter that my paint jar looked nothing like my coffee cup. That jar of murk was almost drunk on many an occasion. That dust created by pastels. That can’t be anyone’s favourite thing, can it? Clouds of unicorn colour choking you as it floats lightly about and lands on everything in the room. What fun!
Digital paint leaves no spills and try as you might you can’t drink it. I can paint for hours and my hands will be as clean as they were when I started. My dog is also thankfully, far less inclined to eat my laptop or PC than she is a stray colouring pencil or paintbrush.
Cost & Storage
The initial outlay for beginners art supplies can be reasonable, however, these will not be of the best quality. Watercolour pallets do not expire, however, tubes of paint can become dry and unusable over time, regardless of careful storage. Paintbrushes can also become splayed and inflexible. If you bought expensive brushes, they might also become moth-eaten if left for a long time. Paper is generally easy to store, providing it is left flat with no damp sources. Naturally, this is something that needs to be replaced often, and high-quality paper can be pricey. With analogue art, you need to consider storage for your completed pieces. Another inconvenience and possible expense.
It’s the other way around for digital art. Your hardware is normally the most expensive part of your art kit. This makes the initial cost high. However, you can find free programs to create art with. Meaning that theoretically once you’ve paid for your tech, you don’t need to keep shelling out for extras on too regular a basis. Storage is as limited as your hard-drive or online solutions allow. You can very quickly fill up hard-drive space, so getting an external backup drive is a help with this.
Texture & Workflow
Texture is where analogue beats digital hands down. Without any effort, you can paint or sketch uniquely imperfect textures that cannot be easily emulated digitally. The unique strokes of the artist and the chosen medium can be seen in digital art, but this is often easier to achieve the old-fashioned way. A lot of people make money from selling add-ons for Photoshop, which supposedly create a hand painted look. If you’re analogue, you giggle at this and paint on your merry way, knowing you can do far better.
You have to be aware of drying times, colour bleed and working from light to dark with analogue. Naturally, this is not the case with digital art. I am a lot bolder with my digital art as I am less concerned with killing a canvas, overworking a piece or making a hideous mistake. Backups and incremental file saving is my friend here. Save, save and save again. That way if it all goes terribly wrong, you can go back to a previous version.
Art is subjective. This means what you like, another person could see as a hot mess. There’s no right and wrong. Art has rules, but they are made to be obeyed, bent or broken depending on what the individual work requires. By all means look up art rules, they are interesting but don’t become bogged down by them.
The most important thing is to find examples of art that speaks to you. Collect images and artist names. Find, follow and interact with artists you like on social media. Examine what it is about a certain piece that speaks to you. Can you do that or something similar?
A quick word of advice here. It doesn’t matter what art you plan on making, buy what you can afford and what you need. Do not let anyone tell you that you must own the most expensive equipment in order to create good art. This is utter nonsense. Your ability does not lie in your tools, it lies in your soul. All you have to do is practice and lots.
If you would like to see more of my art you can find me under LozMac or Loz Mac on Redbubble, Design by Humans, Society6, Art Wow & Teepublic. You can also follow my art progress on Instagram under the username lozmac_.