Welcome to Traditional vs Digital Art 101. I’ll try to show the differences between those two, advantages and disadvantages when it comes to both and debate if one is better than the other.
So what’s the difference?
First let me clear up what the terms ‘traditional and digital art’ cover. In this article by traditional art I mean the techniques such as oil painting, pastel, acrylic, aquarelle, gouache, ink and every other form of drawing and painting using physical mediums. On the other hand, digital art stands for digital painting, a modern technique of painting which is using digital tools and technologies.
The main difference is the equipment:
As previously mentioned, the most obvious difference is the mediums used. In traditional art techniques the artist uses physical equipment such as paper/canvas, pens, brushes, watercolors, oils, acrylic etc. Your working space gets messy with all the water, paints, pencil shavings, eraser residue and so on. And your hands get dirty too!
Now, in digital art you can also use a pen or a finger, but your hands don’t get dirty. Digital art has brushes too but those are digital ones. In order to be a digital artist you need a computer, a software (such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter or something else), graphics tablet and possibly a digital/smart pen too. Then you need to learn how to use all of that.
Is digital painting easier than traditional?
While researching for this post I came across a lot of articles stating that digital painting is too easy compared to traditional. I couldn’t agree less! For me personally it seems harder to learn all those tricks and shortcuts and how to create textures and brushes etc and how to use them, than to play around with watercolors and colored pencils. Without a doubt both techniques are difficult to master even though they depend on completely different tools. Nevertheless, the question about the worth of digital illustrations compared to traditional ones still stands.
You can check out my comparison of advantages and disadvantages of traditional and digital painting in the infographic I made below:
So to sum up, those two types of painting are very different and it would be unfair to make them compete. In many ways digital art is an imitation of traditional art. They both use the same art concepts, such as balance, color theory, harmony and contrast. It is only natural in the 21st century for art to evolve too, along with modern technologies.
Even though digital art can’t create completely the same feel of texture found in traditional art, programs and tools are constantly perfected in order to achieve that. But digital painting has some other qualities. With colors, effects and filters which are impossible to produce with traditional techniques, digital illustrations provide totally new creative experiences. Not to mention animating. And new possibilities can never be a bad thing.
There is no reason for those two forms of art to compete, since they are being used in different spheres. Digital art is better suited for projects related to the commercial use and graphic design, while traditional will always have place in galleries, museum and auctions. And I’m not saying that they can’t overlap or mix!
My experience with both forms:
As you may already know, I’m painting primarily with watercolors and colored pencils (you can check out my portfolio). But I absolutely love the way digital art looks and I’m jealous of everyone who’s good at it. I have a long way to go when it comes to digital painting. It’s a little frustrating for me to learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator and other digital tools for drawing, but I’m sure that all that effort will be worth it one day. Since possibilities are endless when it comes to both forms of art, so why not enjoy them both?
I would also like to link to the articles I’ve read prior to writing this one, as a real scholar. So you can check them out by clicking here (Blake Dehart), here (Graphic Mania), here (The Odyssey Online) and here (Breathing Color).
Do you agree with me or do you have a different experience? Please share you opinion in the comments or contact me!