View Full Version : Digital Artists Who Can't Use Traditional Media

2011-04-02, 10:37 PM
Am I the only one?

I like to think I'm halfway-decent with a tablet, but the minute I try drawing with an actual pencil my art skills drop into the negatives. :-S Anyone else have this little affliction?

Emperor Ing
2011-04-02, 10:39 PM
I've been doing computer graphics for about 4 years now. Prior to this my ability to draw with a pencil was dismal at best. Now, it's actually pretty good for some incredibly bizarre reason. :smallconfused:

2011-04-02, 10:42 PM
That... doesn't make sense. Are you some kind of living talent-siphon? :'-D

No matter how much digital work I produce, my traditional stuff is still pretty bad.

2011-04-03, 02:27 AM
You're not the only one. I'm not very good with hand drawing, either.

2011-04-03, 06:55 AM
There's two aspects to being able to produce art; being able to - for lack of a better term - draw, and being proficient with the medium you're using. As long as you're always trying to improve, any artistic procedure is going to improve the first one.

Your art skills aren't magically decreasing the moment you pick up a pencil; you just need to practice more with traditional media.

The sudden lack of an 'undo' button is daunting, I know, but you do get used to it. :smallwink:

2011-04-03, 07:45 AM
Chances are many other digital artists are very much like you. I, for example, may work well with both digital and pencil and inked. But I have never painted acrylic on canvas or carved on wood or sculpted metal.

As others have said, it is not so much an affliction but rather a matter of proficiency. To be dismal with hand-drawn works is not something to be disheartened about. You just happen to only have Craft (Digital Art). Try getting Craft (Charcoal/Pencil Art) next time. :smallbiggrin:

2011-04-03, 09:18 AM
Ahaha, sound advice. ;-D

I think I rely too heavily on digital tools. I've never been a 'serious' artist to begin with, so my foundation's built on layers and transparency and flip-canvas-horizontal. What gets me about traditional art is that the moment you lay something down, it's there - whether it looks right or not.

Curse you, lacking perfectionist streak!

2011-04-03, 12:32 PM
Used to be! Definitely at first it's kind of like playing a videogame Iron Man style, where you have to restart if you fail. Life drawing's a pretty good way to improve your traditional skills, I find. You get less bogged down with making stuff look pretty and just get the gist of it down fast.

I love digital art, but sometimes it's nice to have the end product, however crinkly and waterstained, in front of you rather than on a screen. :) Doing some traditional might well improve your digital skill too, since you can experiment more with the way colours turn out additively and all that jazz. Also, if you can afford to, try markers. x) They're basically as close to digital as you can get on paper.

2011-04-04, 11:56 AM
I love painting on the computer with a tablet.

Give me an actual paintbrush and whatever traditional painting medium you like, and I'm suddenly a three-year-old. And not even a prodigal one.

2011-04-04, 11:38 PM
When I still had access to the Flash Player program in school (like heck I'm shelling out the $$$ to buy it for personal, home use :smalleek:), I felt my art skills were surprisingly good at the time.

But then I went to hand-drawn sketches and realized that I have essentially no real sense of proportions since I get so focused on minute details while doing this. In Flash, I basically can't help BUT see the whole picture as it develops so I never make mistakes like this with the program.

2011-04-05, 01:17 PM
Yeah, the old pencil-and-paintbrush thing can be nice for a gift or something now and then, but the amount of freedom and, face it, cheating, that digital drawing allows is too staggering not to be tempted by. :D

You need to be able to use your wrist and lay down colour and decide on compositions either way.

2011-04-15, 06:51 PM
I'm old enough that we just didn't have easy to use graphics programs on the computer, so I honed my art skills the old fashioned way. As it happens, I am still really really bad at using a tablet, and using anything but a tablet is just out of the question. I can make good stuff on the computer, but it's mostly a matter of vectors and shapes and a lot of smudge tool in Photoshop. Illustrator just doesn't do it for me unless I'm making things like business cards or logos.

I'm still more likely to make something in pen or pencil and scan it into the computer, or paint something and take a photo and put that on the computer.

The single greatest "traditional" medium for art if you're prone to mistakes is acrylic paint. It dries quickly, can be painted over and over and over again until you get it right, and it's relatively cheap. Its greatest downfall is that it dries quickly, so if you're doing small details or on-canvas mixing, you need to be quick or us a lot of dry-retardant mix into the paint. But you know honestly if you're at that point, you might as well just use oil paints!

2011-04-17, 02:12 PM
I have the opposite problem. I trained with traditional media and I keep trying to make digital ink behave like india ink or watercolor. Even so-called natural media tools don't actually handle the same way that brushes or pens do. It's just a physical thing. Solids and liquids, shapes and textures. You wouldn't expect to be good at wielding a sword or firing a rifle just because you're good at it in video games, right?

ETA: I liked the program ArtRage, it did a good job of looking like actual paint, pastels, etc, but it's not freeware any more. I'm hearing good things about Artweaver now, which does have a free version. I haven't tried it yet though. Still, these won't really give a feel for the tricks of handling a physical brush/pencil/pen either.

2011-04-18, 12:22 AM
I originally started with the traditional medium, and I was absolutely terrible at it and I never made much progress, however when I switched to the digital medium, I've been able to do much better and progress with my art. Now when I go back to drawing with my pencils, I've discovered I'm much better at that than I used to be. Not great, but passable.

2011-04-18, 12:25 AM
the main advantage of digital for me is simply the undo button. Man, if only there's undo button for traidtional media, I'm all set. (and a search function for books, while we're at it)

2011-04-18, 10:23 AM
Ahaha, wow. Some of you guys are pretty boss. Mad props to anyone who can produce halfway-decent artwork without relying on the crutch we call ctrl+z. ;D

Emperor Ing
2011-04-18, 11:00 AM
You know you've been using digital media when your first instinct for undoing a real life mistake is press Ctrl-Z. For example, jumping out of the plane, my first instinct was Ctrl-Z Ctrl-Z! :smalltongue:

As I said before, if you're good enough in digital media where you can translate what you have in your head to shapes on the computer screen, the same principles do apply suprisingly well to pen and paper (though I would avoid pen, because it's rather hard to press ctrl-z to undo ink.)

2011-04-18, 02:06 PM
What about digital artists who can't use traditional media or digital media?

I'd say I'm maybe about even with both although I tend to like my traditional media stuff more but do less of it, in colour anyway, because I don't have a lot of space to spread out all of the materials. :smalltongue:
Which is a shame really because I really enjoy painting when I do it - it's a lot easier for me to get a wide range of colours and tones with paint, I feel terribly artsy when painting and if you make a mistake you can just paint over it, no harm done (although you can't necessarily retrieve the rest of the work you'd done before the mistake). When I say paint I mean stuff like poster paint and acrylic as those are the ones I can use - I've dabbled with gouache and it seems ok too, the paint I don't like using is watercolour, because it's harder to recover from mistakes with it, especiallly when you've not had a lot of practice.

When I want to do a coloured picture on paper these days though I tend to use my marker pens which are quick and pretty easy to use, although they do bleed through most papers and looked incredibly naff on the expensive non-bleed proof stuff I bought. I'd rather work around the bleed effect than use that regularly. (I use letraset promarkers although you can get surprisingly nice drawings with kiddies' felt tips if you're inventive with your technique).

The best things about digital media for me are
- layers, (you can use tracing paper or acetate to get layered effects but the cost mounts up and they can be harder to merge)
- rescaling things (this can be done with screen printing I believe but screen printing seems ridiculously complicated)
- you can't run out of paint or ink and don't need to sharpen a pencil
- you don't have to figure out a place to put the end result
- "save" : more valuable than the undo button in that you can keep multiple copies of the same piece to go back to etc
-copy (see save)
- no tidying up after

I'm pretty bad at getting digital work into the real world and real media work onto the computer though. So I show real media stuff to people I see in real life and digital media stuff to people I see online. :smallbiggrin:

2011-04-21, 12:02 PM
You know you've been using digital media when your first instinct for undoing a real life mistake is press Ctrl-Z. For example, jumping out of the plane, my first instinct was Ctrl-Z Ctrl-Z! :smalltongue:

As I said before, if you're good enough in digital media where you can translate what you have in your head to shapes on the computer screen, the same principles do apply suprisingly well to pen and paper (though I would avoid pen, because it's rather hard to press ctrl-z to undo ink.)

Oh yes, if only RL had Ctrl-Z! How often I've looked at a blob of paint (or a mess of yarn) and wished that myself.

Though for pen and ink, a white-out pen or white acrylic and a fine paintbrush works pretty well as the analog equivalent...scan it and adjust the levels slider and no one will know you had to fix anything from the final print. This is an old pro's trick from the days of stat cameras I learned at an art exhibit of New Yorker cartoonists' originals! (Also, working 2-4x final size.)