I was talking to someone about art recently after I showing them my newer digital work and they mentioned they felt digital painting was to paraphrase “cheating”. They felt it was too easy. To be fair, I have felt this way myself at times and think a lot about it with the projects I am working on. My main qualm I guess is with photo-manipulation and the use of skin textures over actual painting of the textures.
I have seen some very well done photo-manipulations but I still do not feel they are artwork. They are more of a craft. Yes, there are artistic skills and sensibilities required to make a good manipulation; however, they are not as in-depth as someone who creates the image from scratch not using other people’s work. The skill level is not as high. In my own work, I have used many of the skills of photo-manipulation to arrange and join various elements of my final images, but each of those elements was hand created by me from the initial drawing to the digital painting. The digital paintings I do also do not use any kind of pre-made texture like fur or rock to fill in parts of the image. Each element is handled like a physical painting.
Where I struggle a little with my own work is that there are some techniques I use that could not be done easily in the real world but are very simple in the digital domain. For instance, keeping a foreground element separate from the background so that you can paint the background freely is not so easy in the real world and has damaged the quality of some of my physical artwork. However, in the digital domain it is as simple as two separate layers. Then there is the issue of brushes. Some brushes are actually like stamps such as leaves or plants that can be used to fill in landscapes. For the most part I avoid these brushes but I do make use of another ability of brushes, which is that they can be animated. Yes, this is something you can’t do with a real brush, but I have found it necessary to achieve softer effects because the digital brushes are basically stamps and have no real world shape or characteristics. A digital brush is nothing more than the tip of a real brush as a stamp, even the more complex ones. There is no fulcrum between the fingers and the tip as with a real paint brush so they tend to be more rigid and need animation to add some randomness to their use at times. I liken digital painting to working with color pencils where there is more control as opposed to a paint brush, which takes more technique to manipulate. Not that pencil work does’t have its own challenges but the placement of pigment is much more direct and controlled with a pencil compared to a brush.
So, as you can see, I enjoy the work I have been able to produce using a digital format, but I do question some of my assumptions while creating them. My take; however, is to create and paint as much as I can as if I was painting in the real world. I use stamping style brushes as little as possible or not at all. For the most part I use the round or soft round brush to paint with but lately have been using a pencil-shaded animated sponge brush to achieve some of the effects of a real airbrush since the brush alone would be a stamp. Let me know your thoughts on the subject.
Please take time to browse my favorites at my deviantart page. You can find them by following the link on the left column of this page and scrolling down on my deviantart page. I have over 2600 examples of artwork that caught my eye from sketches to paintings and small sculptures to life-size ones. If you work your way through the pages, you will find an amphibian tiger and a horse made out of driftwood. You can also find great examples of comic book artistry. These are the people who drive me to get better at what I do and sometimes make me itch to experiment. Again, please consider rummaging through because I believe there is something for everyone including landscapes, portraits, and animals, as well as, science fiction and fantasy.
You may not have noticed, but I am also an artist. Actually, I am foremost an artist since I started with art and then moved into writing as my artwork got stymied. My writing style owes much to this fact and tends to be very visually descriptive, which some people find tedious but I always enjoyed in a story if properly balanced.
The above design is my first ambitious digital work in Gimp 2.0. However, I have run into a snag. Not knowing if I would like or be comfortable with this new medium, I purchased an inexpensive drawing tablet (Vis Tablet’s Pen Pad). The tablet is not bad but has one main drawback, the pen needs a battery to work and I am finding out that is uses them fast and does not like rechargeable batteries. This makes working on the tattoo design and future projects frustrating.
There is a new pad that I like because the pen does not require a battery; unfortunately, it cost $199, which is more than I can afford. Right now most of the money I have is committed to finishing house repairs and is not even enough to fix everything. So, I am turning to you, the viewer, for help. By supporting my writing through a donation, you can also help support my artistic creativity by helping me reduce the cost of this new tablet. This is a more recognizable goal than the vague support I asked for earlier and maybe I can work up a chart to show how much progress we have made. Once the design is done, I will post a copy for downloading as a thank you for your support, until then feel free to download any of the spoken stories now available. To see more of my work, follow the link in the far right column to my art page.
I am currently working on a tattoo design for my nephew. I made the design a year or two ago but did not have the means to properly transfer the image to the canvas to do the painting for him to reference and so it sat just colored in with markers. Meanwhile, I have been watching the progression from traditional to computer created artwork and am amazed by what is being achieved. However, I held back because I personally felt that because the computer was doing some of the work, it was cheating. I know, stuck in the stone age. Still, I do have some qualms, but I have decided to do the tattoo digitally. I am having fun playing with things and trying to create like I did with paint. When I get finished, I may post it to my deviantart page. In another venue, my first short story, Vengeance, has finally been published in the anthology Tales of the Sword by Red Skies Press. I will warn that the editing is a little shabby in some of the stories but still readable. One of the standouts so far was the story Elijah’s Fear by fellow writer Nila White. Please consider giving the collection a look on Amazon.com.