Friday, August 17, 2012

Should Digital Art Look Digital?

I've always thought that art materials should be true to themselves. What I mean is a watercolor should look like a watercolor, and an oil painting should look like an oil painting. Just because you can make watercolors look like oils doesn't mean you should. Each material has unique properties that allow you to do things you can't in other mediums as well as certain restrictions you have to work around. It's part of what gives artwork its charm.

But that brings up a bit of a problem when it comes to digital art. The computer has a unique look to its graphics, but it can also do an amazing job of emulating traditional art (thanks to Corel Painter!). So should the same rules apply to digital art as traditional art?

On the one side I'm inclined to say yes. The computer has introduced a whole set of new "looks" that hadn't been done before. But then I look at these (like vector illustrations and flash animation) and I'm taken back aghast at how ugly they can be. Too sterile, too mechanical, too generic.

So that flips me to the other side where I see the computer can emulate the natural media without the messy cleanup or the expensive art supply bill (of course, it's not like computers and graphic software are cheap, so that's probably a wash).

This has led me to experiment a lot with style. I tend to not like my work that is too "computery" so I've been trying to get a look that is closer and closer to natural media. But there's no reason I can't throw in a few digital flairs here and there. And maybe that is the answer. Maybe a mostly traditional route with digital flourishes is the unique look.

Take a look at my latest sketch and let me know.

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