Raven Rawne

General Media Traditional art in a digital world

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Here's the thought: is traditional art - drawing, and painting, mostly - facing extinction or, at most, being a very, very niche hobby in favour of digitally produced art?


Do a Google search on anything that can be drawn, anything really. Aside from clubbing baby seals maybe... So you get images, hopefully not photos but something made by a person. I bet it's moslty, if not all, digital art. Promo materials? Digital art. Posters? Digital art. Your favourite webcomic? You guessed it, digital! Anf, frankly, there are good reasons for it:

- only "material costs", after purchasing the drawing tablet and software, is electricity. Once you pay off the equipment, making art costs as much a browsing cat memes,

- it's convenient, meaning that you can warm up your hand and doodle for half an hour, close the program and do whatever else you have planned - no cleaning required.

- if at first you don't succeed, click undo. Arguably the biggest advantage of digital, you can try out lots of ideas and if they don't work, you don't have to start over, just undo what you don't like and try something else. Same with correcting mistakes, you can drag and drop whle sections of your drawing, realign it on a different angle, resize even. No need to start over,

- you get the right shade every tme. In color works, you don't need to play an alchemist, mixing colors for the right shade and pray to whatever higher power you chose it works. Save the color code and use it every time you need it, even a single drop.

- less of a learning curve. Due to the above, and the layers provided by programs, you have many tools that make it much asier to produce the desired outcome, and the whole creative process looks different than that of a traditional artist. It's more... incremental. Making slight changes to see how it looks, trying different things on the go until you're safisfied.

Whereas traditional, in comparison, sems to posess a number of inherent disadvantages:

 - you need to buy everything, frompencils to markers, brushes, paints, erasers, everything. And find space to store it too,

- it's art time and you have that awesome idea! Just... gotta set up the supplies, where did I putthat marker I need so badly? Oh, it went dry, gotta go to the shop for a new one... Aaaaand I gotta clean up my working space and tools, lest I'll spend half of my salary on new ones. Traditional art has setup and cleanup time requirements, as well as material costs which aren't exactly trivial.

- you are limited by your tools, the minimal and maximal line width they can produce, as well as the color palette of your markers/paints/crayons. If you need to mix colors, it's a bit of a roulette till you learn to ace the proportions.

- if at first you don't succeed... We've all been there, the drawing is coming along nicely and then, you have an ink splatter and there's nothing to do about it. Another crumpled sheet of paper in the bin as you ready yourself to start over from the beginning.

- it matters what you draw on. Not only does paper and canvas cost, and said costs rises with every wasted piece, but also, each has unique propoerties you need to keep in mind. Some papers have a tooth, some are smooth. Others can't take in too much moisture or they start to buckle. At some point, you may need several brands for different applications.

- Digitizing. So, you've made your masterpiece and you're ready to show them, show them all mwa ha ha! Eeeexcept it's on a sheet of paper, and everything happens on the Internet. Ooops. So, you buy a scanner, and get some art program to fix whatever the scanner messed up, so your work looks just as good on the screen as it does in your hand. More costs, and another skill to learn, yaay,

- and finally, the steep learning curve. Due to material costs, time requirements of your chosen medium, different art making process than digital (less trial and error and thinking on the page), and finally, the sheer amount of sub-skills required, it takes much more time and effort to produce art hat looks equally good compared to digital.

Oh, and if you go to YT and look for art courses.... yep, most are made by digital artists and mostly useful for other digital artists.


Now, it's not a hate thread, keep in mind. More like, a preamble to a discussion, whether traditional art is still "viable" after you graduate from primary school. I myself try to learn to work traditinally, so, I may be biased but, it seems that digital mediums, due to their cost effectiveness and skill effectiveness, are taking over the hobby and professional scenes, aside from art galleries and museums (a matter of time, probably) And, if that's true, then, does traditional have any future? Aside from niche audiences who like the old ways? Is there any point in going traditional, as a person who is about to make the big decision and start their art journey?

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One could take either approach to creating art, be it traditional or digital, and find plenty of drawbacks. Personally, I work almost exclusively in traditional methods, even with all those costly tools and messy supplies. I'm not the worlds best by any means, but when I use these tools I know the outcome is going to be entirely based on my own hands, my own eyes and my own mind, and not the constraints of a digital art program written by someone else.

In the past, I tried repeatedly to go the digital route, for many of the reasons stated in this thread. I thought it would be easier and smoother to color, shade and keep a drawing under my control without the inevitable smudge, hand print or spill on the work. I had a very nice Wacom tablet for the purpose, but no matter how many art programs I tried (and there were many) not a single one was intuitive enough for me to perform even the simplest of tasks. Technology is supposed to make things easier, not add more steps to an existing process. Some of the most elementary programs fail at even the simplest of tasks.

With traditional paint, pencils and clay I am instantly in command. I don't have to learn a complicated system (and to me they are all complicated) but rather I can simply begin creating art. Traditional art is pure intuition, and as much as some of the methods can be tiresome, I feel a real connection to the work. Art isn't just a matter of producing the final product; it's an act of creation. When I create I want to immerse myself in it without the filter of a digital tool playing virtual middle man between me and the art I'm creating. My Wacom tablet, as fancy as it was, could never line up with the subtleties of my smallest hand movements and it was extremely frustrating when doing highly detailed work. If the tools can't keep up with the artist, it's not a worthy tool at all. 

Granted, many people are extremely adept to using digital means to create stunning artwork. I've even seen digital artists imitate the look of brush strokes and oil paint. But to me, it has to be more organic and real. I have to smell the paint, handle the brush and pour myself into the work without having anyone (or anything) to blame if I mess it up. It's a discipline, and life needs discipline. If nothing else, I like the idea that I'm keeping alive the methods that have been around for thousands of years, even if no one else cares about it.   

I'm sure many digital artists will see my reasons as fitting to either style of art, and they may well be correct. It really depends on the artist. I think all art is worthy; traditional or digital. I'm just glad there are tools for all artists whether they be technologically adept, or like me; more comfortable with a paintbrush in one hand and a palette in the other.

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Here’s the thing about art. It’s all stimulating the senses. And there will be effects on the senses created by traditional art that can never be duplicated by a glowing screen.

Theres a painting created by my uncle hanging in my Gma’s house. Sure you could get a high quality print of the same image he made, but the glossy ink and paper will never be that same as the bumps and textures of the dried paint.

I’m a mix of traditional and digital in my art. All my images are drawn by hand with pencil, pen, and paper. Only the colors are digital. But I have a lot of respect for traditional mediums.

EDIT: Additionally, the traditional works of the classical masters will be on display in perpetuity. Countless people will see them and many will think, “I wanna learn to do that.” Well you can only learn to do what they did if you practice with traditional mediums.

Edited by ShadOBabe

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Coming from a traditional artist myself, I do feel it's dying. But never let that discourages you or anyone who is a traditional artists. What you put in it, is what makes a art an art. All art works is good, doesn't matter what tools the artist used. But I admit I do view  digital arts quite bitterly, ever since I got rejected to do a big commission because they wanted a digital art not traditional ones. What's the differences? 

I did however try digital art once in awhile so it never hurt to try something new and still keep the olds.

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They are different. As mentioned above, no printer or monitor will replicate the texture of the paint, and there are techniques that use a lot of it, making it quite a bit unique.

Traditional process is also much closer to the mind and much more physical, you can't replicate that with digital. Making something work in a simulator isn't quite the same as making it work right in your hands, and there is a huge difference in the experience you get. I think that alone is enough to preserve it for a long, long time.

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Hm, yes, I would most certainly agree that painting has a place in the Future as an example od fine art, along with sculpture. Some things can't be made digitally, and the appeal of a painting is that of it's uniqueness, that only one original exist, aside from the technique and art style, of course.


As far as drawing traditionally is concerned, there seems to be a bias towards digital art both in professional firlds - oftentimes artists live across the globe from their clients, so if they like working digitally, they save lots of time compared to traditional. And in hobby art, requests and comissions also favour digital, sometimes unfairly so, like TBD mentioned. Peopleseem to think draditional artists draw like kindergarden kids, whereas digital art has a quality of it's own...

I'd definately agree on the point that, while both are valid in art vvreation, traditional feels much more... tangible. Real even. I myself dabbled in vectors with Ponyscape and later on took a turn to pen and ink and, I myself felt the difference. Mostly by ink spots on my hands but, there's something satisfying in tracing a dip pen over the page, following the sketch to make it permament. When I vectored, I didn't feel any satisfaction until I was done and saw the end product. Only concentration and occasional frustration when things didn't go smoothly.

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