Any reason to be avoiding photoshop


Either I made it up in my head or someone told me ages ago or I read it ages ago I am not sure but for some reason I have the idea in my head that when LEARNING art you should, at the beginning, avoid photoshopshop in favour of pencils. However if this is true I can’t figure out why (as long as one knows photoshop pretty well and so is not having two learn two things at the same time)

So is this true and if so why?

The idea of doing a study would be to try and achieve a perfect copy (at least when doing that particular type of exercise!) But at the beginning its really difficult, there might be alot of rubbing out and generally making a mess, at least for me but with photoshop you have an extra element of freedom with layers and easy and clean erasure as well as an undo function. In other words there would be potentially more leeway to adapt until you have got it right. If you are relatively comfortable with a tablet and and fast worker in photoshop I cant seem to figure out what the disadvantage of using it for learning to draw would be.

Would anyone be prepared to separate the facts from the myths who have more experience than me?

FYI I don’t want to avoid pencils all together or anything since I love pencils!


After some thought I have noticed a slightly warped logic to my question. It is clear there is a problem with line quality and drawing lots of lines to ‘search’ for the right one. Using photoshop wouldn’t correct the problem but would just be avoiding fixing it.

Guess I answered my own question but feel free to add any insights.


There is no difference fundamentally. If you can draw well digitally, you’ll be able to draw well traditionally too, and vice versa (taking for granted the traditional artist will take the necessary time to acquaint himself with the behavior of a digital tablet). And in reverse, if you suck at one, you’ll also suck at the other.

The flexibility and power of digital cannot help you become a better artist–they’re just tools. Some are easier to use than others, but they all do the same thing. It’s like how no matter how fancy your word processor is, it will not help you become a better writer. Creativity, knowledge, and skill are ALWAYS internal factors, not external…

In order to improve as an artist, you simply do these things:

-Increase your knowledge in the foundations of visual art (composition/perspective, lighting/values, colors, anatomy/figure, and so on).

-Increase your technical skills in line quality, rendering, brushwork, and general eye-to-hand coordination, observation, and analysis.

-Develop your creative vision, so you have something interesting to say as a creative talent, instead of becoming a picture machine with no thoughts, ideas, or soul.


Continuing in your line of thought: I think it goes for all learning that it’s important to not just ‘randomly’ do something. Although you might make some progress in the beginning, you’ll soon find yourself stuck at the same level you where on, while you are still drawing and drawing.

The way to learn is to set goals, even if they are small goals. When you are starting out with drawing, I imagine a goal could be putting down a line the way you see it. Just blurting things out knowing you can easily correct them is not stimulating you to concentrate and be effective. While knowing that you can’t correct what’s done, knowing that it’s got to be right, might just help you concentrate.
Secondly when you screw up to much you will have to start over on a new piece of paper and you will be able to see your progress and analyse the mistake you made. While doodling in Photoshop your more likely to continue on the same thing, also repeating your mistakes. Of course there are ways around this, saving and opening a new file but i guess it’s not as practical as a piece of paper and a pencil or some charcoal.

These things come with the tools of trade as Lunatique says. But i can imagine that for a beginning artist it might not be the best way to start out as it’s a bit in conflict with the basics of learning.

Personally I’ve always found and still find drawing with a pencil on paper or painting oil on canvas easier than digitally. I think this has something to do with seeing your pencil move while when you work on your computer your not seeing the actual drawing. But also being able to make specific and bigger gestures. I must say I have an old and small wacom tablet so i’m not sure what the tilled, pressure, etc developments are. I’m looking forward to the moment when there will be digital touchscreens developed where you can paint on that I can afford.

For these reason I would start out on paper.


Fundamentals apply to all mediums

Digital is a medium
pencil is a medium

the only difference is the workflow which is not related to fundamental.


I really think it is similar to how artists want to compare software packages to create artwork, it is up to the artists preference on what tools to use and how to use them. I think there is value in learning art through traditional mediums first though. Just like animators learning animation through the traditional drawing method before jumping into 3d programs. It makes someone really appreciate how much technology has innovated how we creatively express ourselves. Photoshop lets me approach art in ways I had never though of before because of how flexible the brushes and customization is along with utilizing the virtual layers. I know that physically we will never quite reach the level of creative freedom that computers can bring but that certainly doesn’t mean to leave a good old pencil and paper behind.


I can only think of one benefit of traditional learning and that is you have to physically mix your own colours and that allows you to understand colour better.


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