Can digitally painting your artwork make it better? Let’s explore digital painting from the ground up.

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Digital art is a great way for artists to explore their creativity and experiment with new ideas. In this blog post, I will talk about the benefits of digitally painting as well as go over the basics of starting digital painting.

I hope that by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what digital painting is and be more confident to try it out!

I am a painter and an artist, and when I first heard about artists using computers to create their work, my reaction was “that’s cheating.” But then I tried it. And guess what? It was really eye-opening! Digital painting is difficult to master and you need a lot of imagination!

So does this mean that digitally painted artwork is better than traditionally painted artwork? No, not necessarily. What it means is that there are many different ways for artists to express themselves in today’s world, and we need to be open-minded enough as educators (and students) to allow our students to explore those different mediums and tools.

What is digital art?

Digital art is a digital representation of artwork or digitally created.

Digital artwork can be used digitally or in print (on paper). It is a digitally created or electronically produced work of art.

Technically speaking, digital artists use a pc, mac, laptop, or tablet to make art. This art can be drawing, sketching, painting, photography, digitally manipulated photos, or even digitally created 3d works of art. 

[Wondering How to Find Your Art Style? Read this blog post!]

Is digital painting real art?

The Oxford dictionary definition of the term “art’ is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

So yes – absolutely! Good digital painting requires a huge amount of skill, an artistic eye, and a creative mind – just like a traditional painting.

There are, of course, many differences between traditional painting and digital painting, but digital painting is definitely a form of real art.

Even so, among artists and art lovers, there are conflicting opinions about whether digital paintings represent true artwork.

hand holding paintbrush mixing paint on a traditional paint palette

Bias against digital art.

I’m sure all of us have heard this one. “It’s not art. It’s digitally painted.” The biggest mistake you can make as an artist is to believe everything that people say to you.

There is a lot of bias against digital art because many people feel that it is cheating.

Yes, there are a lot of shortcuts you can take to make things move along faster (you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry as you would in traditional painting), but digital art requires a lot of skill and talent so produce good painting!

Much of what is now known as digital art was originally used in professional design. It wasn’t until later that hobbyists and individual artists began using it in their day-to-day lives.

This caught the attention of some traditional artists and other creatives.

[Related article: 31 Exciting & Thoughtful Gifts for Digital Artists]

Some people argue that using a computer to draw is considered cheating and lacks effort or talent. This is why digital art is often not considered real art.

Which is better: traditional or digital?

The answer is: “It depends on what you are looking for!”.

Traditional paintings can be beautiful and detailed, but digitally painted pieces try to push the boundaries of what is possible digitally.

Digital artwork allows you to create art that would not be possible in a traditional format due to size, scope, complexity, etc.

One thing we have to remember is that digitally painted artwork can be used digitally as well as in traditional formats.

Digital artists often also use traditional art mediums too, sometimes switching between digital and traditional as inspiration or mood strikes.

Some artists and particularly traditional art students themselves say that they don’t hate digital art and that they just prefer the techniques/feel of traditional art better, which is completely acceptable too.

The final takeaway from both traditional and digital methods is that these are valid forms of art. It takes time, effort, and practice to get a good result for any process.

So don’t get too hung up on what is better and what is better or worse. The most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing and create art because it’s meaningful for you.

What is digital painting?

Digital painting is digitally created digital artwork (as opposed to digitally manipulated photographs or digitally created 3d art). Digital paintings can be used digitally and in print format.

can digitally painting your artwork make it better? pinterest pin

Traditional media vs digital media.

There are a lot of similarities between traditional media and digital methods.

One of the big advantages that digital media has over traditional painting is that you can keep going back and making edits to your digitally painted artwork!

Should I share my digital paintings?

This is a personal choice. Many creative people prefer to keep their art to themselves for fear of being judged by others!

However, the digital world is great because you can share your art relatively anonymously on forums or social media and get constructive feedback!

Digital paintings are great for sharing digitally, digitally manipulating, or digitally creating new works of art.

Many digital artists really enjoy digitally painting fan art.

Fanart is digitally painted artwork based on a previously published work. It is an homage to the original artists/books/games that inspire you.

It can be very freeing and exciting to be able to digitally paint something without the fear that you may mess it up!

Art Shaming And Traditional Painting

Art shaming refers to the way in which some people in society (or even other artists) criticize digital art and digital painting.

Some people often feel that digitally painted art is worthless or inferior to traditional methods of painting. But this isn’t true, digitally processed and digitally created artwork can just as beautiful and inspiring as any other form of art!

This can be a very hurtful thing for artists who have worked really hard on creating magnificent digitally painted artwork.

This bias has led to the creation of groups like “Traditional painters against digitally painting”.  The purpose of this group is to show their distaste for digitally created artwork.

Cheating with Digital Painting

Some people feel that digital painting is cheating because you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry and the physical experience is so different from traditional painting.

This is untrue, digitally painted artwork can be just as detailed and complex as traditional paintings.

There are some digitally painted pieces that look like traditional paintings because they are so well made.

The skillset you need to create a digital painting is quite different from the skills you need for traditional painting. However, digital artists and digital painters need creativity, artistic ideas, and talent – just like traditional artists.

What’s the difference between digital art manipulation and digital art creation?

Essentially, the difference between original digital creations and digital manipulations is that original digital creations are made from scratch.

Digital manipulation is where the artist takes an image that already exists (belongs to someone else), adds filters to it, and passes it off as their own work.

Real Cheating in the Digital World

Although there are a huge number of legitimate authentic digital painters out there, there are also others who take shortcuts and try to pass off work as their own.

Theft of digital artwork and digital painting is unfortunately very common and if you are creating digital art, then you must make sure to take precautions when you publish it online.

How can I protect my digital paintings for being stolen online?

copyright word on a typewriter page

Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can protect your digital creations.

Digital Watermarking

This might sound a bit strange but when you digitally paint it is wise to use a digital watermark them with your name and/or website address.

Digital watermarking just means that you are adding a layer of protection to it.

Digital watermarks can be transparent or visible and can be added using software on your computer.

Post Low Resolution Images

This will stop people from downloading and printing out your art at high quality.

Only Post Images

People who steal your digital paintings won’t be able to print them out on a large scale without them becoming grainy and blurred.

Use only a small part of your image

This prevents people from using the whole painting.

You should include a copyright notice on each image so it is prominent enough to ensure people who may not be familiar with the law don’t take your work.

Make your contact details easily available

Improve your chances of being mentioned by people by making it easy for them to contact you.

Check out this great video by Austin Batchelor on how to create a watermark in Procreate!

The advantages of digital painting

Digitally painting artwork is easier than traditional painting in some ways. There is no mess, no paint drying time, and you can make edits digitally!

Digital artists have access to a whole world of art tools that would be impossible or difficult to get your hands on in a traditional format. Digital artists are not limited to the materials they have access to!

You can digitally paint on a variety of different surfaces with brushes that mimic traditional painting media like watercolors, acrylics, oil paints, etc.   These tools are even coming out in 3D digitally painted programs like Zbrush!

The downsides of digital painting

hand holding a stylus and painting digitally on a tablet

There aren’t too many downsides to digital painting.

However, the biggest one for me is that you don’t get to actually feel the brush move against the surface of the canvas.

Although using a stylus comes close (like the Apple Pencil), it just doesn’t feel exactly the same.

Perhaps as technology advances in this area, we may find digital art-making to feel more like traditional art-making.

Does digital painting have value?

Yes, digital painting has value.

In fact, there are a number of digitally painted artworks that have sold in millions of dollars!

Many galleries now accept digitally painted artwork and many artists (traditionally trained) have started moving into digital art-making processes.

Digital painting is also extensively used in production art for the entertainment industries.

Videos games, movies, TV gaming, RPG, fiction… virtually all businesses in these fields prefer digital art to traditional art because of what can be done with it.

Digital art is also preferred for industries where quick turnaround is essential to ensure quick adjustments and rapid improvements.

Can digital painting ever be real?

Digital paintings are real. It requires time, talent, effort, and technological strength.

The only difference between digitally painted pieces and traditional paintings is the method.

They both require human input shifting pixels into shapes on a canvas or paper… digitally or traditionally, it’s all art-making.

Can digital painting replace traditional painting?

I don’t think digital painting will replace traditional artwork and I would certainly would not want it to.  

Traditional artwork will always have a charm about it and I personally prefer to see the paint strokes, errors, textures on paper.

However, digitally painting artwork can certainly augment traditional art-making processes in many different ways.  It really comes down to what you are trying to achieve as an artist.  

Can digital art be considered fine art?

Yes, digitally painted art can be considered fine art.  

However, it is very important that you make sure your work is clearly marked digitally painted artwork.    

Many people don’t even know digitally painted artwork exists or think digitally painted artwork isn’t real art.

However, digitally painting artwork is valid and creates a unique product that appeals to many different audiences – it just needs to be recognized as such!

Digital art can be used in many different ways and has the potential to reach larger audiences than

Is digital painting easier than traditional painting?

Digital painting is easier than traditional painting in some ways.

There is no mess, there is no paint drying time, and you can make edits digitally! Digital artists have access to a whole world of art tools that would be impossible or difficult to get your hands on in a traditional format. Plus, digitally painted work can reach larger audiences than traditional artwork.

However digitally painting artwork is not always easier than traditional art-making – it depends on what you are trying to achieve and how digitally painting can help you get there.

Often having the ‘real-life’ material or medium right in front of you makes your artwork easier to resolve.

[Related Article: What is the right digital art canvas size?]

How do I create digital paintings?

Digital paintings are created by using a computer with a graphics tablet and stylus, or a stand-alone tablet, and software.

Once you have these tools, the sky is your limit!

Digital artists paint by building up their artwork in layers, using various brushes to create different effects.

I like to think of the digitally painting process as being similar to working on a canvas with markers or paint.

You can digitally paint in multiple layers to get your desired effect just like you would if you painted traditionally on canvas or paper.  

What software do I need for painting digitally?

There really is a lot of digital painting software available!

If you are just starting off and getting a feel for digital painting, then I would recommend using free digital art software like Gimp or Krita.

If you want to take things a bit more seriously then I would recommend using Adobe Photoshop or Procreate.

Ultimately, the decision of which software to use is a matter of preference. If you practice enough, then eventually you will be able to create professional-looking artwork in any software!

I love working in Procreate.

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Digital Tools for Painting Digitally

Brushes

Just like traditional paintbrushes digitally painting requires a wide range of brush tools.    

Brush tools allow the artist to digitally manipulate your artwork.

Layers

Creating digitally painted artwork allows you to digitally paint on multiple layers.  

You can digitally paint one layer, go back and add digitally painted elements to an existing layer or digitally painting a whole new layer to create unique effects!

Filters

Using filters is a great way to alter and modify your artwork. A filter is basically a visual effect applied to your digital painting.

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Conclusion

If you are looking for a fun and creative outlet, digitally painting your art is the perfect place to start!

With just a few tools, you can get started on your own journey towards becoming a digital artist.

Pick up a tablet or stylus and who knows? You may find yourself in love with this new way of creating art!

[Related Article: 22 Digital Painting Tips]

2 thoughts on “Can digitally painting your artwork make it better? Let’s explore digital painting from the ground up.”

  1. Great article! As a long time acrylic and digital painter, I’m glad I’ve never held prejudice against new art methods. I love exploring different techniques and mediums. Also, I often start with an abstract acrylic painting and apply digital filters to push it further. I consider them “mixed media “ because they literally are.
    I feel bad for those who stunt their creative growth (and fun) because of limiting ideas about art methods and mediums.
    In earlier days acrylic paint was rejected by oil painters as being invalid. Can you imagine?
    **There is already a brush styluses that paint on any tablet with actual bristles. I have the original Sensu Brush Stylus. I also now use the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil2. Fave programs are Procreate and (the more 3D) ArtSet4.

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed the article, Judy! You are so right – exploring different and new tools is so important in creative growth! I am going to explore ArtSet4 now – thanks for the tips 🙂

      Reply

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