Digital media vs Traditional paints

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    Digital media vs Traditional paints

    Ok, drawing from photos sucks in comparison to real life objects. But what about media? Is it o'k if I place a still life on my table, light it with lamp (hmm... incandescent lamp or fluorescent Lamp?) and paint it in Photoshop? Is practicing digitally good for understanding color and volume? Or oil paints are better anyway?
    Thank you for answers )

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    Do whatever you want.


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    He-he
    Ok )

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    You will learn more doing it traditionally. There is nothing wrong with digital media. I'm just a firm believer in learning traditionally first.

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    The point of doing still life/painting from life is not the media that you use (Although that helps). It's being able to clearly see color reflections, edges, shadow colors, etc correctly.

    I do a lot of practices of just setting up a lamp against something on my coffee table. When doing this, I mainly use watercolor pencils.

    For a lamp, I typically use a standard lamp with daylight bulbs. It really don't matter. as long as you can see some sort of color in the reflections.

    Dougie

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    My suggestion is work the medium that you want to eventually work in. If you want to be an oil painter, do your studies in oil. You'll learn a lot doing them in digital too, but there's enough to learn in oil painting, that you may as well learn oil technique along side the color and form.


    Quote Originally Posted by HackTardist View Post
    You will learn more doing it traditionally. There is nothing wrong with digital media. I'm just a firm believer in learning traditionally first.
    I think this really depends on what you want to learn. If you know digital software that the interface doesn't get in the way, then I'd argue that digital is faster and easier to make solid progress. If you have no interest in doing actual paintings eventually, there is nothing better or easier about traditional media over digital.

    With digital, you largely only deal with the fundamental aspects of art. Drawing, line, shape, color, value, etc. You have an infinite amount of paint, and starting a new painting takes only moments (no priming a new board, buying canvas etc). You can also easily copy your results to a new file and do variations, trying different approaches, very very easily. Also, I find people are more likely to be bold and try new things when they know it can't "ruin" the art they've spent hours on. Go ahead and try that effect, if it doesn't work you can always undo, or delete the layer.

    With traditional you are juggling a lot of other stuff to get good results. You need to learn the specifics of the medium you are using, and for a beginner that can be a large leaning curve. Learning the handling properties of many different colors, different supports, brushes, prep and clean up, and technique (not even going into the expense of some of paint that can make students form bad habits to save money). These are all potentially additional obstacles present in traditional media that aren't there in digital.

    I'm far from anti traditional art, but the simplicity of digital (once you know some very basic stuff), make it ideal I think for quick easy studies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    I think this really depends on what you want to learn. If you know digital software that the interface doesn't get in the way, then I'd argue that digital is faster and easier to make solid progress.
    My problem about starting with digital is that as a beginner you'll be way more likely to get caught on stuff like eyedropper tool, hue and saturation adjustments, photo filters and other neat layer modes that makes stuff look good, but teaches you nothing about drawing, painting or choosing colours.

    Well, of course learning what looks good through experimentation is learning, but if you never learn to do it without digital adjustments (as it may happen) you end up with a crutch, and returning to traditional will be even more frustrating because then you have to learn everything again.

    But yeah, an ideal balance of traditional and digital would be beneficial...

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    I usually recommend traditional because I tend to prefer how it looks when it's done well. I remember a talk I had with Stephen Schierle while he was studying (briefly) at the FAA, where he said he first learned to paint digitally and saw a significant benefit from that experience as he transitioned to traditional. The medium doesn't matter that much as long as you make sound decisions in the course of your learning process.

    Edit:
    TinyBird, there's still the option of only sticking to the brush tool, which is way harder and much less satisfying...to some. In general, I think most people will agree that trying to do more with less is a good thing for any beginner.

    Last edited by AndreasM; April 19th, 2011 at 04:41 PM.
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    I actually feel like painting traditionally has taught me more about color, since you're mixing your own colors you'll learn more about additive color mixing. And that can be helpful later when you're working digitally too.

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    Thank you for your answers, guys!
    At the moment my main goal is digital stuff and all traditional sketches and studies I consider just as support. Just wonder if lack of traditional oil paintings will affect my digital work not in a good way.
    I asked this mainly because oil paints are not cheap, so I wanted to know does it really worth it...
    I do also some studies using water-colors, pen, pencil - but those don't give natural look of color. So I hoped digital madia could replace expensive oil paints.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    My suggestion is work the medium that you want to eventually work in. If you want to be an oil painter, do your studies in oil. You'll learn a lot doing them in digital too, but there's enough to learn in oil painting, that you may as well learn oil technique along side the color and form.




    I think this really depends on what you want to learn. If you know digital software that the interface doesn't get in the way, then I'd argue that digital is faster and easier to make solid progress. If you have no interest in doing actual paintings eventually, there is nothing better or easier about traditional media over digital.

    With digital, you largely only deal with the fundamental aspects of art. Drawing, line, shape, color, value, etc. You have an infinite amount of paint, and starting a new painting takes only moments (no priming a new board, buying canvas etc). You can also easily copy your results to a new file and do variations, trying different approaches, very very easily. Also, I find people are more likely to be bold and try new things when they know it can't "ruin" the art they've spent hours on. Go ahead and try that effect, if it doesn't work you can always undo, or delete the layer.

    With traditional you are juggling a lot of other stuff to get good results. You need to learn the specifics of the medium you are using, and for a beginner that can be a large leaning curve. Learning the handling properties of many different colors, different supports, brushes, prep and clean up, and technique (not even going into the expense of some of paint that can make students form bad habits to save money). These are all potentially additional obstacles present in traditional media that aren't there in digital.

    I'm far from anti traditional art, but the simplicity of digital (once you know some very basic stuff), make it ideal I think for quick easy studies.
    I think the downside to digital from the "not being able to worry about ruining a drawing" is the fact that people rely on Undo too much vs learning how to make those accidents work for them. You're SUPPOSED to make mistakes and learn from them. People need to learn when to make decisions and not create 200 layers because you're afraid. (That's not saying making too many layers is bad - it has its uses).

    I think it's still possible to do both but I find digital is still limiting where you want to go draw. I find that traditionally painting still has some limitations but it's not as bad. (like lugging equipment is a drawback to many media).

    I also see really bad habits from digital like, not turning the canvas and drawing a certain way. It's odd since you have more of an opportunity digitally to flip a canvas, rotate it etc to check for mistakes.

    Also, people squint to see corrections and in another thread I mentioned eye strain injuries people get when looking at monitors too long. You're not likely to stress your eyes out getting close to a piece of paper to look at your work, but you are if you start leaning into your monitor.

    With a tablet you're likely to keep in one position creating RSI (often not noticing till its too late). With paper you can move it and position it better.

    That's why I support if one is going to learn digitally use a stripped down program like Open Canvas to learn foundations. Later they can go onto Photoshop because the basic method is easily transferable. That being said, I know OC is only for Windows users (less someone runs Windows off a Mac).

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreasM View Post
    TinyBird, there's still the option of only sticking to the brush tool
    But the temptation is always there... It starts slowly, as you think "a one overlay layer won't do harm, right?" but then, it's not enough. Soon you'll be searching DA for tutorials, little gaussian blur here, bit photo filter there...
    Next thing you know you're using eight texture and filter layers per image and you can't even get a passable contrast to your traditional pics as your fingers desperately try to search and press Ctrl+L while doing watercolours *cries*
    It's a vicious circle, man. A vicious circle :V

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Also, people squint to see corrections and in another thread I mentioned eye strain injuries people get when looking at monitors too long. You're not likely to stress your eyes out getting close to a piece of paper to look at your work, but you are if you start leaning into your monitor.
    Speaking of which: turn that bleeping brigthness down!
    Many people just leave it at 100% which is, considering manufacturers tend to use brigthness as a selling point, about as smart as staring into the sun. I mean, if you have 400cd/m2 that's alot of light hitting your eyes. Combine that with slouching forward, as you mention, and it's asking for trouble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nr.47 View Post
    Speaking of which: turn that bleeping brigthness down!
    Many people just leave it at 100% which is, considering manufacturers tend to use brigthness as a selling point, about as smart as staring into the sun. I mean, if you have 400cd/m2 that's alot of light hitting your eyes. Combine that with slouching forward, as you mention, and it's asking for trouble.
    Indeed. Unfortunately people want the "white" to be white so the brightness will be up for a lot of people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Indeed. Unfortunately people want the "white" to be white so the brightness will be up for a lot of people.
    In such cases it would be wise to spend more money on a monitor, so it doesn't shift the colors depending on brightness, and/or get a hardware calibrator(a very cheap and worthwhile investment if you work alot in digital media).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nr.47 View Post
    In such cases it would be wise to spend more money on a monitor, so it doesn't shift the colors depending on brightness, and/or get a hardware calibrator(a very cheap and worthwhile investment if you work alot in digital media).
    I don't think it's so much that but bright whites are attractive. Look at the obsession with bleaching teeth.

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    I have the same problem. I am painting traditionally right now, but I want to eventually paint digitally. Does Photoshop use subtractive color, or additive color, or both?

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    Just judging from hanging out on Critique and Sketchbook forums looking at stuff, it seems to me that noobs do better work with pencils and paper.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vay View Post
    I have the same problem. I am painting traditionally right now, but I want to eventually paint digitally. Does Photoshop use subtractive color, or additive color, or both?
    Digital coloring is going to be an issue where you have to remember despite the value scale/type you use The monitor is RGB. This means mixing paints traditionally isn't the same as digitally.

    HOWEVER! I've noticed by working traditionally artists have a better eye at choosing the appropriate color when transitioning to digital.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vay View Post
    I have the same problem. I am painting traditionally right now, but I want to eventually paint digitally. Does Photoshop use subtractive color, or additive color, or both?
    Photoshop, Painter, or any digital program uses additive color by definition. They can use algorithms to simulate other mixing modes, but pixels will always behave differently than pigments. (In some ways Photoshop, which doesn't even pretend to emulate real media, is less confusing than Painter, which does.)


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    One of the really nice benefits of working traditional over digital is that it's easy to start drawing, etc any place. All you need is a pencil and paper.

    One of the best things that I ever did was to start drawing using a pen, rather than a pencil. It taught me that I couldn't UNDO things. So, I had to pay more attention to what I was doing and, if I made a mistake, I had to incorporate that mistake or start over.

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    Thank goodness, I thought you'd never ask!

    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Do whatever you want.
    Absolutely true...just some things make it easier. Traditional media being one of those things (Elwell knows this...just thought it was a good entry point).

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    Here's my two cents (ok...maybe I went four cents this time):

    The real key, however you do it, is to learn how to draw. Learning to draw is done much more easily with traditional media than digital. If you want to make it much more difficult and limiting then sure, go digital.

    There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about traditional vs. digital...mainly because there is truth to the idea that it all comes down to baisc visual arts principles. This leads people to think that the media doesn't matter in that case. The problem is traditional is just so much more portable and varied in expression over digital, so you can study from life much more easily and discover your own expression vs. the expression of a program.

    Remember, digital tools only simulate real media. You could conceivably learn all the basic fundamentals of art making digitally, and still not be able to draw or paint. As Stoat mentioned, one good test is to analyze people working traditionally vs. digitally. There is no comparison. Virtually anyone with decent digital skills developed them after a solid understanding of traditional media.

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    If you want to be an oil painter, do your studies in oil. You'll learn a lot doing them in digital too...
    You won't learn anything about painting in oils by simulating them in digital media.

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    ...I'd argue that digital is faster and easier to make solid progress. If you have no interest in doing actual paintings eventually, there is nothing better or easier about traditional media over digital.
    Unless, you want to, you know, work from life:Plein Air

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    With digital, you largely only deal with the fundamental aspects of art. Drawing, line, shape, color, value, etc. You have an infinite amount of paint,
    and starting a new painting takes only moments (no priming a new board, buying canvas etc).
    Well, you don't really have any paint but...
    It only takes moments to grab a new board as well...it's not like you stretch canvas and prime panels one at a time. Granted there is some prep work you do in batches...but that is part of leanring your materials and processes.

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    You can also easily copy your results to a new file and do variations, trying different approaches, very very easily. Also, I find people are more likely to be bold and try new things when they know it can't "ruin" the art they've spent hours on. Go ahead and try that effect, if it doesn't work you can always undo, or delete the layer.
    And spin around endlessly because you don't really know what you're doing - just guessing and hacking hoping something happens. True though, happy accidents in both traditional and digital are a huge part of the process. Digital is actually very good for experimentiing and discovery...once you know what you're doing and how to recognize it.

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    With traditional you are juggling a lot of other stuff to get good results. You need to learn the specifics of the medium you are using, and for a beginner that can be a large leaning curve. Learning the handling properties of many different colors, different supports, brushes, prep and clean up, and technique (not even going into the expense of some of paint that can make students form bad habits to save money). These are all potentially additional obstacles present in traditional media that aren't there in digital.
    Exactly! And this is why you actually LEARN something about painting.

    The argument of cost I've always found odd...powerful computers and advanced software and tablets are not cheap. They require electricity to run as well.

    And TIME! Please step away from the soapbox...

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    Adding another half-cent...

    I've seen people trying to use digital equipment in life drawing sessions, and they often seem to spend more time struggling with their devices than getting any drawing done, while the stick-and-paper crowd are banging out drawings like there's no tomorrow...

    Plus, what do you do when your battery runs out? (Most life drawing spaces aren't going to have conveniently placed outlets, in my experience. Plus they usually need to use any available outlets for lights and heaters.)

    And how do you draw large? Or put the thing on an easel? Or throw the thing in your bag and gad around sketching everywhere without getting mugged for your fancy equipment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    Adding another half-cent...

    I've seen people trying to use digital equipment in life drawing sessions, and they often seem to spend more time struggling with their devices than getting any drawing done, while the stick-and-paper crowd are banging out drawings like there's no tomorrow...

    Plus, what do you do when your battery runs out? (Most life drawing spaces aren't going to have conveniently placed outlets, in my experience. Plus they usually need to use any available outlets for lights and heaters.)

    And how do you draw large? Or put the thing on an easel? Or throw the thing in your bag and gad around sketching everywhere without getting mugged for your fancy equipment?
    I actually just said "Yeah!" outloud at your first sentence Queenie! Just a lizard-brain response probably...

    Edit: Second sentence

    Last edited by JeffX99; April 19th, 2011 at 04:18 PM. Reason: Ooops...
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    I do small still lives on my computer, but do the larger ones traditionally. Technique is different, but it all boils down to what you want to get out of it.

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    Just wanted to add to what everyone else is saying.

    IMHO, I think it's better to learn to draw and paint traditionally for a few reasons. The interface between you and your drawing program of choice will not be as good as the interface between your brain and your hands. The rolling, twisting, pressure, and dexterity of using your hands with a pencil or paintbrush is more true than with that of a wacom pen. There will always be somewhat of a wall between a person and the computer that isn't there when using traditional materials.

    I also think that there is an overload problem with learning digitally. There is so much you can do with photoshop whereas just using a pencil or brush is much simpler and easier to learn.

    Don't get me wrong. Digital has helped me improve in a lot of ways. I love using it for layout and thumbnails especially.

    There's really no "correct" way. What might work for me might hold you back. Everyone is different. Experiment. Find what works for you. Just don't stop.

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    There's no VERSUS in art, but there's always an AND.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Hoppes View Post
    One of the really nice benefits of working traditional over digital is that it's easy to start drawing, etc any place. All you need is a pencil and paper.

    One of the best things that I ever did was to start drawing using a pen, rather than a pencil. It taught me that I couldn't UNDO things. So, I had to pay more attention to what I was doing and, if I made a mistake, I had to incorporate that mistake or start over.

    Dougie
    Ah, but if you don't have the intension of painting traditionally as your end result you CAN undo things. Sure, you can learn that precision counts when working traditionally, but I don't think there's anything wrong with realizing that something isn't right, and that you not only CAN change it, but should. It can be argued that because making changes is harder in traditional, that many students learn cheats to hide mistakes rather than fixing them.

    There have been some really good points about the traps in digital, and I'd agree that layer modes and excessive eye dropper tool usage (and lots of other handy, but dangerous in the wrong hands tools) are best if avoided. When I recommend digital for learning, I'm really just thinking about basic brush shapes (round, square, or oval for example) and color with opacity controls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Here's my two cents (ok...maybe I went four cents this time):

    The real key, however you do it, is to learn how to draw. Learning to draw is done much more easily with traditional media than digital. If you want to make it much more difficult and limiting then sure, go digital.

    There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about traditional vs. digital...mainly because there is truth to the idea that it all comes down to baisc visual arts principles. This leads people to think that the media doesn't matter in that case. The problem is traditional is just so much more portable and varied in expression over digital, so you can study from life much more easily and discover your own expression vs. the expression of a program.

    Remember, digital tools only simulate real media. You could conceivably learn all the basic fundamentals of art making digitally, and still not be able to draw or paint. As Stoat mentioned, one good test is to analyze people working traditionally vs. digitally. There is no comparison. Virtually anyone with decent digital skills developed them after a solid understanding of traditional media.



    You won't learn anything about painting in oils by simulating them in digital media.



    Unless, you want to, you know, work from life:Plein Air



    Well, you don't really have any paint but...
    It only takes moments to grab a new board as well...it's not like you stretch canvas and prime panels one at a time. Granted there is some prep work you do in batches...but that is part of leanring your materials and processes.



    And spin around endlessly because you don't really know what you're doing - just guessing and hacking hoping something happens. True though, happy accidents in both traditional and digital are a huge part of the process. Digital is actually very good for experimentiing and discovery...once you know what you're doing and how to recognize it.



    Exactly! And this is why you actually LEARN something about painting.

    The argument of cost I've always found odd...powerful computers and advanced software and tablets are not cheap. They require electricity to run as well.

    And TIME! Please step away from the soapbox...
    I'll just post all the replies bunched together, so sorry for the format...

    Traditional honestly isn't that much more portable than digital these days. I take my laptop to a coffee shop and paint every so often. I can plug in and recharge there, and I can work off the battery just fine pretty much anywhere (for a while at least). Also, I understand the iPad battery lasts a pretty good length of time, and that is light and just fine for studies (far lighter than lugging around a french easel, paints, thinners, rags, boards, and brushes). However all of that aside, the original poster was asking about a still life on a desk.

    I didn't claim you'd learn a lot about oil painting working digitally. I said if you intend to work in oil, do your studies in oil. Otherwise, as an alternative, yes, digital will teach you plenty.

    Why would you assume that a beginner "spin around endlessly because you don't really know what you're doing" any more digitally than traditionally? Working traditionally automatically gives you the knowledge of where to apply your efforts in learning? The thinking behind the art is the same either way, so I think not.

    As for the cost, most any home these days has a computer. I don't really consider that a cost, but even if you do, it's on par with a setting up a studio (easels, good lights etc). As for the Wacom, sure that's not cheap, but as a large up front purchase, a small one is on par with buying a good set of quality paint, brushes, and supports (and there are decent free and cheap software to use, and Photoshop offers an excellent deal for students). Still, none of that was really my point. Once it's spent, a student can go years without having to worry about costs. Traditional, you ALWAYS need something, and if you want to try another media, there is almost always another large up front cost.

    My point didn't have to do with bottom line costs, it had to do with the thinking of a student from a learning stand point. Students (I remember this VERY well from my art school days) WILL make art decisions based on economy. Not use enough paint. Use the wrong blue, because cobalt is more expensive and they are almost out. Thin paint with turps to stretch it. You learn to not do that, true, but with digital there is a freedom in knowing all of the costs are spent, so you just make art and learn.

    Sorry you saw this as a soapbox. I thought it was a conversation discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. I wasn't trying to ring in the death knell of traditional media, just offering a counter point to the idea that traditional is the hands down best way to learn, if you weigh them fairly.

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