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Digital Art, Not True Art?

In today’s world, it seems everyone has a strong opinion on EVERYTHING!  This is no different in the realm of art and artists.  Artists will argue over everything from mediums and tools to styles and approaches.  

Today, I want to share my opinions on digital art.

All too often I hear how digital art is not “real” art or even that it’s “fake” art.  I was also surprised to discover that many reference photo groups do not allow their photos to be used when creating digital art.  But, why?

First, let’s look at what is digital art.

According to Wikipedia:

Digital art is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as an essential part of the creative or presentation process. … More generally the term digital artist is used to describe an artist who makes use of digital technologies in the production of art.

Generally speaking, a digital artist is someone who uses a computer and graphics software to create their artwork.  Using technology in the creation of art tends to be highly misunderstood not only by non-artists but also by traditional artists.

Why do some photo reference places have rules against using their photos for digital art?  I think that goes back to not fully understanding digital art.   There are many people out their who do what’s called photo manipulation and call the final product digital art.  Photo manipulation is a completely different animal than true digital art.  On the most basic level, a person doing photo manipulation will open a photo in their graphics program and apply various filters to generate a new look to the photo.  Skill is needed to do this properly.  Photo manipulation skills are imperative for restoring old photos in particular!  However, in the end, it is just editing the original photograph and not producing a new piece of artwork.  The photo reference groups (and their donating photographers) do not want their images simply changed by a few filters and then being called original art by the digital artist.

Here’s just a quick photo manipulation using 1 filter on one of my own photos


Photo-Filtered Comparison
Photo-Filtered Comparison
In the example above you see my original photo on the left and the same photo with an artistic effect filter added to it.  This is what many reference groups are afraid of people doing when they want to use reference photos for digital art.

A digital artist is much different than a photo manipulator.  This is where people get lost and tend to view digital as not art.  

Many people (artists and lay people alike) believe that digital artists simply press a few buttons here and there, letting the computer do all the work.  That could not be farther from the truth!

Digital Artists use technology yes.  They work using specialized graphics programs.  Some use programs that cost a great deal of money, while others make use of the wonderful (and powerful) free programs.  Some make digital art using a mouse, while others use graphics tablets with a special pressure sensitive pen.

I worked in digital art only for nearly 20 years.  While I did purchase a tablet I hated it!  It was back in the day when tablets were new and small!  So my work was done using a mouse exclusively.  Here’s a few examples of my work:

In the examples above you can see my first ever realistic digital painting of an American Goldfinch.  Next, the shark pups.  I created these a couple years ago for the children’s area of my shark education website.  They are the “site ambassadors” of that area.  Each of these creations to numerous hours (sometimes days) to create in multiple layers using a blank canvas in my PaintShop Pro program and my mouse.

Our daughter has become interested in digital art and wanted a tablet for Christmas.  Needless to say, I was shocked when I began to research tablets!  So much has changed!  We decided to purchase a graphics tablet as a joint Christmas present between our daughter and myself.  My husband had a feeling I would love having a tablet around (he was correct!)

We purchased a Huion 1060 (upgraded) Plus tablet.  It came with the pressure sensitive pen and also an anti-smudge glove.  We also purchased a hard case to keep our tablet safe when not in use.  

Huion 1060 new Plus Graphics Tablet
Huion 1060 new Plus Graphics Tablet

Then I went in search of graphics programs.  Even though I have several versions of PaintShopPro including the 2018 version, these are a bit too complicated for our daughter.  What I found completely took me by surprise!  There are some absolutely INCREDIBLE & POWERFUL free graphics programs on the internet!  I finally settled on a program called Krita.  It is amazing!  (So if you want to learn digital art, don’t let cost hold you back!  Instal Krita or Medibang Pro ) both free programs and start creating!  Use your mouse if you don’t have a tablet!

Digital art requires skills, a lot of them!  Besides artistic skills, you need to become skilled in using whatever program you choose to create your work.  You need to have an understanding of resolutions and sizes for your work.  If you have a new pen and tablet you need to get used to how they work as well.  You need to be incredibly patient.  Digital artists work in layers…… a lot of layers……… sooooo many layers!  

So my opinion on digital art?  Digital Art is TRUE art.  Digital Artists are TRUE artists.  Period.  Digital Artists simply work in a different medium than traditional artists. 

And for those digital artists out there, here’s an incredibly funny video from Chloe Rose Art about digital art problems!  You should really check out her channel, she’s the best!

Until next time,
Keep Creating!

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