Digital Sketches from Life

Armand Cabrera

Even though I continue to paint traditionally I like using digital painting tools like Adobe Photoshop, Corel Sketchpad, Artrage, Corel Painter, and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. All of them have their benefits and problems. These sketches are made with Photoshop  using a regular round brush shape. I set a time limit and draw everything freehand from life. Its a good way to practice observational skills as well as honing my tablet skills. I  use  a Wacom Intuos.

More and more I use digital for my preliminary work even for my landscape paintings because of ease of use and the ability to keep multiple versions and ideas until I decide to paint traditionally.  Digital software is just another tool to use as an artist and I think in its proper role can be quite beneficial to an artist and their creative output.

Most people I know who paint traditionally have abandoned traditional slides and print film and use digital cameras. They also use large monitors for photo ref instead of printing everything like the old days.
Paint software and hardware are no different.

The Digital Media Dilemma


Armand Cabrera
Digital media allows a lot of things not possible or not practical with traditional media. Nowhere is this more apparent than animation. Animation has been completely revolutionized by  digital tools. Same with a number of other artistic endeavors, matte paintings, story boards and pre-visualization like concept and pitch art.
In publishing all the costs associated with printing have been lessened dramatically with digital tools. No more type setters or shipping and warehousing thousands of copies of an item that potentially won’t sell. Print on demand allows fast turnaround and low costs. There is no doubt that computers allow for a greater flexibility and fluidity when it comes to a finished product. At any stage of the production of a creative endeavor the work is easily changed; sometimes dramatically, and the work is always at the whim of the entity paying for it. This is not true of traditional media where expertise is not such democratic process.
All that ease of use and better cost benefit should be enough but it isn’t for some digital artists. I recently had a discussion on line where a digital artist was trying to make the case that digital prints were originals because with digital no original exists in the computer. Well that is only half right. No original exists in the computer or anywhere else either. A digital print is not unique by its very nature it can never be an original like a traditional painting can; that is why no one will pay the same prices for digital pieces compared to hand made things. If an artist doesn’t like this they can always learn to make art with traditional materials. I have a friend who is a very successful artist and he has always said your real level of  ability as an artist is your level of ability when you work from life.
You would think this is obvious. As obvious as dressing up like a bird and stepping off a building and trying to fly. Wanting to fly like a bird won’t make you a bird  any more than calling a machine made poster an original piece of art. People want hand made things. In most instances with quality craftsmanship,  the more hand made a thing is the more people are willing to pay for it. The more unique a thing is the more people are willing to pay for it.
Before people write and tell me I hate digital; I’ve been making my living as a digital artist since 1990 so not only do I use digital tools I think digital art can be just as good or better than traditional art. What it can never be is a physical original. So stop pretending it is.