Art Monkey Adventures: Digital vs. Hand-Drawn Art

30 Jan

About a month a go I bought a drawing tablet – an intuos4, small sized. Owning a tablet has been a goal of mine ever since I started my hack cartoonist aspirations, and so far it hasn’t been a disappointment.

I’m far more used to the mechanics of drawing on paper, and it takes time to get used to drawing while looking at the screen instead of down at the point where the pen connects to the canvas. That said, after a month of twiddling around making sketches, I’m completely in love with digital art, and here’s my reasonings:

1) I’m left-handed

Doesn’t seem like the biggest deal, but those of you in a similar way dexterity-wise know what I mean. Writing in spiral notebooks results in hand-cramps and uncomfortable adjustments. Drawing with pencil or charcoal can result in horrible smudging when your hand unintentionally wipes across the page. This problem is eliminated with the tablet. I can rest my hand on the side, on the drawing surface, anywhere, and my drawing stays clear.

2) No Erasers

Why do they get you to draw faint pencil lines for drafts? Because too much erasing damages the paper and the drawing. Tablet drawing equals as much erasing as you want, without any damage to the canvas. Drawings are cleaner, brighter, and better as a whole.

3) Your computer is your palette

I have a lot of art supplies. Boxes full of them: brushes, paints, markers, pens, pencils, everything under the sun. They get lost, they get damaged, they run out and if you want to draw anywhere that isn’t your apartment? You’re lugging a bunch of supplies around in your backpack. Tablet drawing means that your pen and your programs are your palette. You have photomanipulation software. A huge variety of colors and textures to choose from.

So that’s my love of my tablet. It’s a wonderful tool, and it’s taking me to places I’ve never been able to go with my art style.

But don’t think I’m abandoning traditional methods. Tablets are expensive – I had to wait four years before I could get one, and it was the smallest professional-grade item I could find. While lugging art supplies around is a pain, carrying around an expensive piece of hardware that could get lost, stolen or damaged is also a huge pain.

While I love these new forays into digital art, I can’t ever completely turn my back on drawing with pencils on paper, on paint on canvas, and it’s not just about the hardware or software. It’s the feel of it. The smell of prismacolor markers. The smudging of charcoal under your fingers to give a piece of artwork just the right touch.

I may only be an amateur hack, but I love art, and there are pieces hanging in galleries and on internet websites that demonstrate incredible feats of hand-created artistry. Art is part of history, part of culture, and traditional mediums will never go out of style in my opinion. There are some mediums of art that can never truly be transposed to the digital. Sculpture is one example.

But digital art also opens the door for beautiful feats of computer design. It allows a canvas to create complicated calculations of architecture. It allows for three-dimensional designs and models used in new forms of media and storytelling. CGI in movies. Videogames are foraying into art more and more these days.

There’s room for digital and traditional art in modern culture. I’m proud to say I’ll continue to happily indulge and experiment in both.


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