I watch a lot of Youtube and Vimeo videos, gathering new information, learning the newest techniques when it comes to using digital mediums. Recently I’ve seen and heard quite a bit of digital artists telling young artists just starting out “don’t skip using traditional mediums.” Hmmm, why is that? After all isn’t drawing on a tablet with pressure sensitive pen pretty much the same as a pen/pencil to paper or paint to canvas? In a lot of ways it can be and in other ways not at all.
There is no perfect undo when painting with traditional mediums. No layers, they are all flattened in as soon as a new layer of paint or varnish or pencil mark is put on top of another. No distort, perspective, warp, or liquefy tools either.
Some might be saying, “So. It only matters if the art is good and people like it, right?”
As far as sales and aesthetics go I would say that kind of statement is correct. I personally like both mediums. One is not more pure than the other. I totally agree with DiceTsutsumi’s statement, “Who can say Craig Mullins’ work is any less sophisticated than any of the traditional oil painters? Good work is good work.”
But there are reasons why it is important to use traditional medium. First off, digital paintbrushes, pencils, and filters are set up to mimic the traditional tools. Without understanding how the traditional ones work one may not know why they can’t achieve a certain look or feel they want in digital. To use traditional mediums is to learn to make your own choices about the piece; you make the decision of the brush strokes, you mix the paint color, and blend them together. Digital allows you to go back and color correct, warp the skewed bottle into the right position, put the building into the right perspective if you are a little off.
One of my favorite up and coming digital artists is Noah Bradley. He paints probably 99% of the time on one layer. If finances and room limit you to mostly using digital then I would say to do as Noah does, practice only using one layer. Mix/choose your own colors, only color pick from the colors you have put on you canvas, don’t color pick from a photo or other reference. Stay away from blend modes just stick with normal mode. Don’t use undo. I know it may be automatic, in that case just redo it and fix it the way you would with traditional paint; paint over the mistake, use the eraser but on a low opacity so you have to work at getting rid of the mark, and don’t get rid of it completely as that is rarely the case in traditional work. If you can’t fix it, well, that is the nature of painting, you start over. It is not the end of the world, you certainly are not limited to having to purchase paper and paint again as my generation was back in the day. More importantly you will have learned something valuable you can apply.
Start with fruit. Here is an apple I drew digitally all on one layer.