What is Digital Painting?

Digital Painting is a Sub-Set of Digital Art

Digital Painting: Frida Khalo in Chapala
Digital Painting: “Frida Khalo in Chapala”

Digital art is created through the use of a computer and software. Digital art can include tablet drawings, graphic images, animations and videos, Virtual Reality art, enhanced photographs, 3D sculptures, and digital paintings.

Most digital art can only exist physically if printed on media (such as paper), or, in the case of 3D sculpture, printed by a 3D printer. Some digital art (such as animations, video, and VR) can never exist physically, and must be viewed on an electronic device. NFTs (art certified by a blockchain token) generally fall into this latter category.

A digital painting is intended to emulate (and replace) traditional painting techniques like acrylic, oil, or watercolour. The artist develops a graphic concept from an image in his imagination (or reality) using a computer or tablet device. The process is similar to painting with traditional materials, and results in very painterly aesthetics that emulate brush strokes and other attributes of traditional painting. The result, once printed on canvas or watercolour paper, can be treated in the same way as any traditional painting.

Because digital paintings can only exist physically as prints, there is no such thing as an “original.” The artist can produce one unique print, or a limited edition (5, 10, 15, or 25 or more prints), or an unlimited number. The fewer prints available for sale, the higher the cost. This is the same as silk-screening, photographs, block prints, and any other art print medium.

Common Myths About Digital Painting

1. The computer creates the art — the artist does almost nothing

It's important to understand that the computer does not generate or create the art. The computer is only a tool used by the artist in the same way that a brush or palette knife is a tool used by a traditional painter.

The computer allows the artist to use digital brushes and other software tools to create a work of art in a very similar way to that in which traditional paintings are produced.

2. Digital art can be cranked out quickly, and, therefore, has little value

While some digital art (including some art being sold as NFTs) is very basic and is not time-consuming to produce, this is not true of all digital art.

Just as a large blank canvas with an oil-painted red circle in the centre is not representative of the time and effort that most traditional artists might spend on more complex pieces.

Digital paintings can take as long to produce as traditional paintings (most of Garr's paintings take at least a week, and sometimes up to a month, to create).

3. These paintings are just processed photos

Not so!

Many of Garr's digital paintings are of imagery from his imagination that you simply cannot see in the real world, and could not possibly be photographed. Some digital paintings (landscapes and portraits are good examples) might be based on a reference photo, but traditional artists often do the same.

If you think that all you have to do is import a photo into some software, and then just "paint over it," you should try to do this.

This just doesn't work!

If you try to paint on top of a photo, you'll quickly discover that you're covering up the things you're tying to paint, and the wheels fall off very quickly. Your result will not be on a par with the paintings in Garr's portfolio.

If you look closely at any of Garr's digital paintings, you'll see that the colour palette is very much reduced from that of a photo, that there are brush strokes and other painting artefacts, and that there are sketch lines drawn over the paint to highlight edges and shapes (a common technique used in acrylic and watercolour painting).


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