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  1. #1
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    Digital talent over traditional

    Hi everyone. I think this is my first post, so..I want to start with something I've been wondering for some time. Do you have to be good at traditional painting to be good at digital painting? I ask this becouse I,ve always been good at drawing but in college I realized that when it comes to traditional painting, lets say I did'nt get very good results. Recently I got a wacom and painter, I began to practice and after a few sketches I realized were good. I wonder this becouse some people say: artists always get better achievements succeeding in traditional areas.

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  3. #2
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    First of all, welcome to CA! Do you have to be good at traditional painting to be good at digital painting? No, I don't think so, they are similar but very different. They both require time and practice to get really good at. One might be easier to pick up, and that is probably influenced from the other. Color theory, brush strokes, thinking in layers are all things that translate between the two.

    But, I'm in a similar boat; I'm ok at painting traditionally but my digital work is much easier for me. I know that's partially because of undo, erase and layers lol.

    I do think its good to be a "well rounded" artist which includes being proficient in traditional mediums as well as digital. But really its all up to you and what career you want to get into, if that is your path.

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    If you're good at painting in a particular traditional medium you'll develop a good mental index of effects that you like to use, and sometimes those can be recreated digitally. On the flip side, sometimes digital painting feels really alien to traditional painters because the two are so different (which is why people with a traditional painting background sometimes prefer Painter vs Photoshop).

    What sort of "achievements" are we talking about here? You can certainly improve drawing skills, color theory, compositional skills, etc using the digital medium, but part of that involves being vigilant and not "cheating" too much. If you're color dropping everything, or pick up various other crutches, then you can hinder your progress. That being said, there are plenty of crutches available for traditional artists too. Now, if you're talking about achievements such as gallery recognition...then traditional is going to win out right now, because galleries like making money on originals, and it's hard to posses the "one and only" when it comes to digital.

    Out of curiosity, what traditional painting mediums did you try in college? I ask because some people are great at one type, and dislike another. Not to mention, depending on the depth of the painting class, sometimes the materials you use aren't exactly complementary to enjoying the medium. One of my fundamental classes had us painting gouache on bristol board, and that is definitely not the ideal surface for it. Similarly, I hate using oils on textured canvas, but have fun with it on smooth surfaces.

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  6. #4
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    I think traditional is very very overrated for industry artists. Even jobs where you are producing in traditional medium (like a large mural on the side of a building), you are doing ALL the major creative work digitally and then just using a template to get it on the wall.

    Digital is just faster....and in business, that means it is better. Hire an artist to spend a week doing an oil painting? Or hire an artist who can do the same work in a couple days?

    It comes down to producing. No one cares how you do it. They just care that you can do it on demand (consistent) and do it fast as possible. If that means you are doing it by mooshing pictures together with warp tool and a mouse...thats just as good as the "artist" who does it by starting in the upper right hand corner and painting pixel by pixel like a printer (obviously through a lifetime of mastering art).

    The problem is questions like this aren't clear on which "art world" they are trying to succeed at.

    Is it the art world where you are getting paid to work?
    Or is it the art world of personal growth and artistic mastery?

    They are very different worlds (and will give you very different answers, depending which world the person is answering from).

    The personal growth / mastery world is less about WHAT you make and more about HOW you make it.

    The "do it for a living" world is less about HOW you make it, and more about WHAT you make.

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  8. #5
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    Hi guys, thanks for answer . Yes, you make good points. In college I tried oil and watercolor having bad results. It turned well using a impressionist technique (my favorite) with regular paint. My goal with digital painting is to produce sketches and concept art for pre-production of my animated shorts.

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanmotion View Post
    Hi everyone. I think this is my first post, so..I want to start with something I've been wondering for some time. Do you have to be good at traditional painting to be good at digital painting? I ask this becouse I,ve always been good at drawing but in college I realized that when it comes to traditional painting, lets say I did'nt get very good results. Recently I got a wacom and painter, I began to practice and after a few sketches I realized were good. I wonder this becouse some people say: artists always get better achievements succeeding in traditional areas.
    all the digital artists I know got their skill base either from painting traditionally or working closely with artists, who had very strong traditional background
    and then just switched tools from brushes to painter or photoshop.

    on the fourth day of glitchmas my painter™ gave to me
    four random crashes, three broken brushes, two system hangups & one corrupted workspace
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  10. #7
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    I don't think it's very disputed that the digital medium is "easier" than traditional (provided one has taken the time to learn the software).

    HOWEVER, I've seen digital artists go to great lenghts trying to simulate traditional mediums with digital painting, to the point that they'll take longer and work harder to get that same effect. If the whole point of digital is to save time, why take longer to make it look traditional than the time it would take to make something with real paint? I suppose the answer would be in the ability to easily change something for a client. (Even though, it's still a little ironic.)


    Anyway, to answer your question, I think it works both ways. In fact, I think I had the opposite effect. When I started getting into digital art during my freshman year of art school, I found that being able to block in large chunks of color, glaze quickly, and dive into something with big bold strokes with no fear of "messing up" my original painting greatly improved my confidence and technique in traditional drawing and painting. It helped me get used to the idea of alla prima in traditional painting, whereas before I had just approached it with delicate lines and timid layers.

    What I'm saying is that it's maybe more of a 2-way street than people sometimes think.

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  12. #8
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    I think it depends on what you mean by good. Good enough to do matte paintings or concept work for Lucas or good enopugh to work on some game art textures for 3d models. You get my point, there is allot of misinformation in earlier posts here. Traditional paintings don't take a week or more to do. When we were painting backgrounds, we did two 10x15 inch acrylic backgrounds a day. I still paint a couple of backgrounds a day on projects right now; I switch between digital and traditional all the time. It wasn't unusual to do 180 backgrounds for a project in a couple of months. It just depends on your skill level, the reason so many people do digital is because you don't have to hire and pay highly skilled people to do all of your game. It allows you to chop it up into little uncreative bits for people who don't really even have to be able to draw or paint at all. You just need someone creative to tell them what to do. When I worked at EA most of the texturers just used photos and manipulated them; they couldn't actually paint them digitally or otherwise.
    Digital costs more to do, you pay for your lack of skill. Computers, tablets, software, IT person to maintain it. You are talking thousands of dollars. Sit Syd Mead, Craig Mullins or Iain Mccaig down with some pencils and markers and they will give you a pile of usable art by the end of the day, but you have to pay them more too. Oh and they do digital too.
    EA hired Mead to do some stuff in the early nineties and he got 10,000 a day back then! They only needed him for a couple of days. But that ten thousand is cheaper than paying for two seats of max or maya and still not getting anything that good.
    Most so called digtial artists are making little more than minimum wage, of course companies love it because they can save money and have someone good come in as a contractor and set the style and designs and then have the little worker bees do the production end for nothing. That's what happens when you can't do art, you end up working for nothing. I'd like to know how many people throwing up opinions here, actaully work as artists in a game company. And of those, how many are lead artists or concept artists, my bet is not many if any.
    I'm a contract lead artist on two projects right now I set the style of the game I'm making twice as much as the in house people who can't get the job done; this is how I get most of my work now. Because at the end of the day painting over photos you pull off the web doesn't get it done. Learn to draw and paint and not only will you work more, you will get the better art jobs and get paid more, its been that way for me for twenty years now.

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanmotion View Post
    Do you have to be good at traditional painting to be good at digital painting?
    No. What you'll find is that most digital painters (with stress on that word) are good traditional aritsts and most accomplished traditional artists do, or would, make good digital painters. It's a case of relation and not cause and effect. One can become an expert in either without any knowledge of the other. The fact that both use common skills does not make either a prerequisite.

    I'd agree with the assessment that digital is easier, but not necessarily from the point of view commonly expressed (that you've got CTRL-Z, layers, shortcuts etc. at your disposal). I think digital painting is easier because you don't have to take into account the physical properties of paper, canvas, brushes and paints. Personally speaking I've never found a use for CTRL-Z, layers (in the main), or 90% of the other shortcuts available digitally.

    There's also the issue of what digital artists actually do. That's why I tend to refer to myself as an illustrator or painter rather than an artist. What I mean is I use traditional techniques, as far as reasonable, in a digital environment. So I don't use photos or 3D models or tracing short-cuts, I just paint onto a canvas - digitally. It's not a case of one approach being better than the other, or one type of artist being more "accomplished" than the other, that sort of comparison makes no sense, it's more a case of making the distinction so we know what we're talking about.

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  15. #10
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    dpaint...are you really trying to argue that traditional artists are stronger artists than digital ones? Simply because they work in one medium over another?....As if it is some kind of default "draw in paint and your a masterrr!"?

    I hate to tell you this, but there are bad traditional artists too (*shock!*). Only problem, is there aren't many jobs for them while they try to get better...they can't be texture artists, they can't be the prop artists, they just get to do it as a hobby until they are good enough to work traditionally.

    The medium doesn't make the artist. The knowledge and what you are producing does.... (oh, and craig mullins is pretty much all digital, he labels himself a digital artist. He actually spoke about how untrue the idea that you need to learn traditional is).

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  16. #11
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    You don't NEED to learn traditional, although it may be more straightforward when it comes to drawing from life (the importance of which I could never stress enough), but that just depends on what you feel more comfortable with.

    We all want to be in this business because we have a passion for art in the first place, and I personally feel that passion, that love, much more when I paint traditionally. When I have an interesting concept in mind or want to be efficient, I pick up my graphic tablet. When I feel truly inspired, I pick up my brush.
    There's something to be said for getting dirty and feeling the paper with your hands, the weight of the paint.
    That's all very personal of course though.

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  18. #12
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    Didn't we already agree that to be a real artist you had to grind your own pigments which you mined from the earth and apply them with brushes whose hairs were gotten from animals you raised and slaughtered yourself?

    This question is totally 2009.

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  20. #13
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    Ivory Oasis,
    Bad art is bad art and there is plenty to go around. The reason crappy traditional artists don't get work is they don't have software to hide behind and pretend to be creative for them. You didn't address anything I said because I am talking about facts from actually working in the industry for A list companies.

    The best people are trained traditionally, they get most of the best jobs. If all you know is the software, 9 out of ten times the traditionally trained will take your job from you. It only takes a few weeks to learn a software program and a traditional artist, once they know a program will kick ass over someone who can't draw or paint. Plus programs change all the time and so if all you know is a certain program you are screwed, if you don't have the traditional skills to back it up.

    The problem is most digital people let the software do the thinking for them. They get lazy. There are exceptions to everything and for every great artist like Andrew Jones there are fifty thousand people with photoshop and no ability or talent.

    Companies love it because they hire them for ten bucks an hour, but they are nothing to the actual creative part of the process, for that you actually have to have skill.

    My skill isn't dependant on a tool. A company wants digital or 3d, no problem or they want sketches for a presentation, again no problem. Its going to look the same and I get paid the same.

    I've heard Craig Mullins talk and I've seen his guache and marker work, He went to Art Center and he may work digitally now but he is a traditionally trained artist. Those skills are what made him successful, not what brushes he uses in photoshop.

    Look at all the workshops here on this site How many are offerd by people with traditional training; Giancola, Foster, Santos, Kunz all tradionally trained; all the Gnomon people, tradionally trained. And they all say the same thing learn traditional skills; drawing, painting, perspective, anatomy, design and color theory.

    Idiots have been sayiing digital will replace traditional skills since the early eighties. Its always the same excuse, when computers get fast enough and the software gets good enough. When that happens they still won't need people without skill and traditionally trained artists will still do better.

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