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Advantages & disadvantages digital art / painting. Is it better than traditional?

Let’s Take A Look On What’s Good & Bad About Digital Art

If you’re reading this post, then you could be an artist who draws on paper or other media, and looking to see if digital art is for you. Or you may want to get into art & drawing, and want to know if it’s better to start with digital art right away. In both cases, we will explore the advantages & disadvantages of digital art here.

Advantages Of Digital Art

Ability To Make Mistakes, And Undo Them

Digital art gives you the wonderful ability to undo your mistakes. Any time you make a mistake, you can step back from it right away with a push of a button.

That being said, erasing is also easier in digital art. No matter how many times you erase, the digital canvas stays clean, and won’t rip apart, something that could happen to draw paper when you erase too much (Even with the ability to make unlimited number of mistakes, the old advice of not erasing your mistake still applies while you’re practicing. Although you can erasing them when you create actual artworks). There no fear of ruining artworks, or any fear of ruining your expensive art supplies at all. Unlike traditional art, where you could ruin the nib of an expensive marker by using it on the top of waxed colored pencils, for example. This never ever happens when mixing colors digitally. You either like the final result or not.

With the use of layers, you can have each part of your drawing separate from the others. All that make you free to experiment. You can draw multiple versions of any part of your drawing, each part in its own layer, and only keep the one that looks the best. That makes digital art a huge tool for learning to create great art.

More Flexible

This is so related to the previous point, as being able to undo your mistakes is part of the flexibility digital art gives us. Digital art allows you to move the various elements of your painting, resize them, and edit them separately. It also allows you to reuse many of these elements in other drawings if you like to. All that makes is easy to experiment with ideas. In additional to that, you don’t need to wait for your coat of color to dry before painting above it, that can be a huge time saver.

When it comes to the tools needed, you can literally have a whole moving studio in a backpack, all you need is to a laptop and a graphics tablet. While that can be a load to carry, it’s still easier than carrying a whole traditional studio (considering that you need to set up the studio when you arrive). Compared to the perspective frame the great artist Van Gogh used to carry around, this is not much at all.

Flipping a picture is a common exercise that’s helpful to identifying your mistakes. It’s usually done using a mirror when drawing traditionally. In case of digital art, it can be done with a push of a button. Click here to learn on how to flip a picture in Photoshop

Overall, the flexibility digital art provides is endless, and I could literally write a whole book on it if I want to.

Provide You With More Tools For The Job

Just like digital art can be quite flexible in how it allows you to work on your artworks. It gives you tons of tools for that. The number of brushes you could use in your painting is only limited by your imagination and the imaginations of the other artists that makes them. If you want to draw in perspective, you won’t need to worry about drawing the perspective grid, as there are many software and tricks for that (See my tutorial Drawing Perspective in Photoshop & Illustrator, A simple how to~ for some practical examples on that). If you drew in perspective by hand before, you already know how troublesome is to have the vanishing points outside the canvas.

Digital art allows you to use all the colors you ever want, and without paying anything extra. You no longer have to mix two colors or to buy a new tube. In addition to that, you can create as much color palettes as you want to.

Many art programs have symmetric tools, which makes it easy to draw symmetric lines. Even if your art program doesn’t have that, you can easily duplicate and flip any part of your drawing to get the same result.

Many art programs give you all sorts of rulers to help you draw the exact lines you want to draw. Some of them even allows you to create your own rulers to use to your heart content:-

Easier To Duplicate & Distribute

With a push of a button, digital art can be easily replicated. You can print as many copies you want of an artwork, either at home or a printing center, and at a lower cost than reproducing traditional works. You could publish it online so that every single person who liked it can have a copy of it. This makes it easy to back it up all your artworks. With the right preparations and tools, it will be very hard to loss the artworks you spent years working on.

For some people, this could count as a disadvantage too, as that no matter how good a piece of digital art is, there will always be thousands & thousands of copies of it, making it less unique, but that’s a topic for another post.

Opens A Career Path For You

If you became good enough, and had your own portfolio to show off, chances that you could land yourself a job at some studio. Being good at digital art is very important in the art industry.

Disadvantages Of Digital Art

Despite all the lovely benefits of digital art, it’s not without disadvantages. While I personally think these disadvantages can be easily offset by the advantages I mentioned above, it’s up to you to decide if they make it worth getting into digital art as a medium.

Can Hinder Your Growth

Digital arts can delude you into thinking that you could draw without the need to learn the foundations. While it certainly makes our lives easier, it’s not a replacement for learning these foundations. It’s not uncommon for a newbie digital artist to try get something right over and over rather than learn what works.

You still need to learn about proportions, perspective, gesture drawing, anatomy, light and shading, composition & other concepts. The more you learn how to apply these concepts, the better artist you will be, no matter what the tool you use. I know this may seem boring to many people, but it’s worth it if you’re serious about learning to draw very well.

Another pitfalls of digital art is how it prompts you to m everything looks perfect. That can be a huge time waster. Sometimes leaving things to imagination of the viewer n is better when creating art.

I have made easy to follow series about various drawing concepts. They are completely free too. You can check them in the links below:-

Has No Traditional Feel

If you have been drawing traditional for a long time. There are a lot of things you will likely mess when it comes to digital art. Like the smell of paint. On the top of that, digital paintings has no texture for you to touch & feel, even after you print the artwork. These kind of feelings are similar to the transition from physical to digital books, you will miss the feeling holding a book & feeling the paper when you read a digital one. .

Should you start with digital art? I can help you with that.

If decided to start with digital art, you can check out my post about Getting Started In Digital Art for beginners, and what you need to know from the start. It has all the sorts of tips & basics, from selecting a graphics tablet & drawing program, to various tips that I hope would be helpful to you.

Depending On What Equipment You Buy, Digital Art Can Cost More Or Less Than Traditional

Giving how digital art equipment are bought once, and then used for years after that. Digital art can be much cheaper than traditional art. You can create wonderful artworks with a cheap graphics tablet and a computer with medium specifications. Assuming you already own the computer, you will only pay for the graphics tablet.

The same way, you can draw very cheaply by using pencils and huge stack of some papers.

However, if you are the kind that buys all sorts of art supplies, you know how that costs a fortune over time. Almost all forms of digital art, including getting one of the expensive Wacom Cintiq models, can be much cheaper. As you will pay for it once, and then it will serve you for years to come.

Is learningShould I learn Photoshop? Photoshop worth it?

Most of the time, you pay for your drawing software once, and use it for years after that. However, if you opted to use and learn Photoshop, then you will have to pay monthly or yearly subscription, something that can add up the same way as art supplies.

A Final Word On Digital Art

If you decided that digital art is the way to go for you. You can check out my post Getting Started In Digital Art (or digital painting) for beginners, and what you need to know from the start post, which will give you a helping hand on how to get started.

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I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.


    1. It really depends on you. Some people prefer digital, and some prefer traditional. I am an advocate for digital art myself, since it’s more convenient, and allows me to experiment & make mistakes more easily. ^^

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