Are we getting too digital?


Cartoons, comics, and artwork in general seems to be done more and more on computer and less and less on paper. A lot of new and learning artists are using vector based programs where it’s easy to turn a sloppy line into a beautiful curve and you can adjust your subject’s form until it’s exactly what you want it to be with beizers instead of learning how to make the form instinctively.

I have this problem. I’ve spent more time on my wacom in photoshop where I have endless layers and infinite error correction that I don’t teach myself the proper way to draw, I teach myself the lazy way to draw. It’s almost as if traditional 2d drawing is becoming a lost art.

How far can a 3d driven community go without substantial 2d skills? What are your opinions, am I way off base here? Perhaps I’m just part of a small, lazy minority of artists who use too much photoshop and not enough paper. I’m curious to see if anybody else has noticed the same thing or not.


Well you’ve sort of answered your own question there. You keep no fiddling endlessly, it probably also happens endlessly that people get discouraged and quit on realliofe drawing. Happens to me all the time, and then when I get back to my wacom I suddenly feel confident enough to try a lot and eventually end up with results ten times as good literally.

As to craft specific issues I think they’d be better exposed in separate threads per craft, as in what should I do to get better at[whatever]? But 2d to 3d, I’d say practice digital stuff foremost, texture painting is quite different in that you can clone photographs. You need a different “viewing state” for that than drawing the right line or stroke.

just my opinion though, don’t take my word for it.


If you are using a wacom, you are still training up your drawing skills… medium should not matter. I won’t ever give up paper 100%, sometimes I just prefer it but that depends on my mood. Vector programs are different I suppose, the end result looks more technical.

But to be honest, even using digital does not always mean that the work will look more polished… I see plenty of very rough linework, shading etc… done in PS. It’s down to the artist. :smiley:


I’m reminded of a discussion my mother had with an art teacher friend of hers. She works at a local college and one thing she’s noticed is most students are too focused on one style or method of working. Instead of at least experimenting with other tools like chalks and paints, it seems there’s an attitude of “it’s too hard” or “boring” and would rather work in a purely digital environment. Perhaps the same theories apply on a computer, but a computer can also help you fake the effect faster and with less effort skipping an entire stage of understanding why.

Again, using myself as an example, I know that light bounces and a computer can fake a lot of that for me without much effort on my part a lot of the time. But I don’t really understand WHY it bounces and how it should land. I suppose that’s where the difference between me and a real professional comes in. Mine will always look like I’m missing understanding of lighting and shadows but might still look good enough.

I might seem to answer a lot of my own questions when I ask them, but I’m just giving my take on it. I started this to see what other opinions are out there. I don’t want to see marble sculptors or painters get replaced with a computer program that etches out the stone based on a 3d rendering or a large printer making a print copy of a digital painting, but maybe that’s just the next step in artistic evolution?


Well… light bounces are only going to help you in 3D. If you are drawing digitally then the fundemental skills are the same as traditional. Just because we have a few time saving devices (primarily undo and layers for me) doesn’t mean we are losing anything as such. The mistake too many people make is in comparing 3d to 2d drawing, when in reality it is more comparable to stop motion or live action… you don’t paint shadows and lighting on your model in a stop motion scene for example, but there is great skill required in lighting a real-life scene. 3D is more comparable as virtual stop motion, rather than being 2D. IMHO


It’s all art. I’ve noticed that people who aren’t connected with cg in a way rarely notice it in their everyday life, it’s just that we are more sensitive to noticing cg-related things, and hence are more likely to think there’s a lot more of it than there actually is.

Plus-- It makes sense that art would follow the way of technology. Artists like new things, and technology is new. Perfect marriage?!
We are taking advantage of this new media in order to do things that we might not have been able to before…
It’s all good, believe me.


I think there are at least three main approaches to CG:
a) use it as a tool to create artwork which resembles “traditional art”
b) use it to “discover new frontiers”
c) a combination of a and b

I think the work in CGTalk falls for the most part into (a) - CGtalk does seem to have a commercial ‘bent’ to it.
The benifits of cg are obvious in commercial art - highly controlled workflow, seamless integration of project components, and large reusable libraries.

Yes the landscape has changed for artists, as it has for everyone, since the explosion of computer technology in the 1980s’ (The point at which ‘a computer on every desktop’, became as real as a ‘chicken in every pot’). From there things grew exponentially - Ugh!

There is no question that cg tools have made many tasks/techniques accessable to people without artistic dispositions or skills - having said that, it always has been, and always will be the ability to distinguish oneself from the ‘pack’ (a figure/ground relationship if you will) that will ensure that excellence prevails over the mundane.

CG tools don’t make artists - the innate artistic disposition, coupled with years of intense effort does.

Artists will recognize this, non-artists will not.




one small step to being taken over by technology.heh


technology vs traditional… the same thing happened many years ago, with the introduction of photography, it put many artists out of business, thing today, still held strong by the photographers, which was previously what the tradition artost would be comissioned for… apart from things as obvius as fast, accurate recording of something… think about say, portraits, the family portrait previously would be painted, these days, its photographed…

i know this is slighly differenmt, but its just ive been looking at what sparked some relatively ‘diferent’ art movements… photorealist artist would loose work to photographers, but you cant create cubism with a camera, the market still belonged to the artist.

The digital vs traditional is a complex debate… are light wave applications use for 3D stills cheating? has digital photography too the majority over tradition film loaded cameras… the computer has created many ways of making a job quicker and cleaner, from administrative tasks, to art… CTRL Z takes less than a second… undoing a brush stroke in oil on cancvas can take ages !


Are we getting too digital?

No. Digital is the way forward, denying that is to try to turn back time, to try to crawl back into the womb, to try to reverse evolution.

Using sculpture as an example - imagine sculpting in true 3d, holographic vision, haptic interface, controlling every millimeter of the surface with complete confidence. You can feel it, you can zoom in, you can do anything… Then you output it by having a robot carve it out of real Carrera marble.

How is that not better than the old way, hacking away with a damn hammer until your hand and arm goes numb, with goggles protecting eyes from slivers of stone, your artistic vision limited at every turn by technical concerns - cracks in the marble, chipping away too much and not being able to add it back, sweat blinding your eyes, your arm developing tendonitis, the simplest thing taking weeks and weeks?

Of course it only makes Michelangelo’s and others’ work all the more impressive, but just because they had no choice, doesn’t mean we have to do it the hard way too.


Not to mention the multitude of options still left after you think you have finished. And the quantity of reproductions only a click away.


hmm,a lot of u seem to draw it down to the fact that digital is… easier

i ask,what happens next,a remote control FOR a remote control when u can’t be bothered to pick it up.

i think where we are now is pretty fine,i just don’t want people to start getting lazy is all.

digital is great,as jm sed u can reproduce allota work,meet deadlines quicker

in a sense,digital is like junk food,and traditonal is like a home made meal.

u can eat all the junk food u want,but at the end of the day,theres nothing like ur mummas home made meal.

i just hope that there will always be the option of both,and one won’t take over the other.


Whether you work on paper or on computer, only skills matter. Skills are diverted in many direction. However it all comes to the point how you put your ideas into reality with the tools you have. Whether it is Pencil or Paperl, Tablet or Photoshop, Mouse or Polygons, Hands or Clay does not matter. Everything requires skill that is acieved through dedication. That is where the value is. Whether it is traditional or modern, that factor has not changed. When technology changes, the way we look at traditional art changes. However, it doesn’t change one factor that there are only few elites and they always distinguish themselves from the common people.


there are many digital pieces that have as much commitment felt in them as traditional ones. the only reason digital is faster is the ability to paint without worrying about oil drying, or getting colours, or getting brushes.

the availability of those items shrink time taken to a tenth. thus u have traditional quality at near speed of thaught.

there will be ways to produce digital unique paintings, and print them on unique paper(the subject has been dicussed in the CGS forums)…


[bah, i had a good reply and pressed the back button on my mouse… arrrrrgh]


Yes as human beings we are getting too digital. Just look at cell phones. If you abuse one technology you will abuse another. The fact is there are very few talented artist in the world. This has always been the case and will always be the case. Only natural talent and those really to work extremely hard at it to become great. If you are one of these you will always make a name for yourself. But computers can not make artist or tell great stories. Art is not just technique but must speak to the viewer and tell a story or truth to engage thought. Technique is not art. Can you press and redo button/undo for talent. No because that is beyond the range of any little computer


Curse the digital age. :stuck_out_tongue: I hope you find time to retype it.

Digital is a mixed bag. It’s an additional medium to work in and not so much a replacement for the old. But to a lot of people it really is a replacement, and it’s a replacement that reinforces bad habits. There are plenty out there who would learn the fast way instead of the correct way. Take the shortcuts before learning why they’re shortcuts. I find it mildly ironic that many digital paintings are praised for being indistinguishable from an oil or water colour painting. Why fake it when you can do the same thing with the real materials? It’s because it’s faster once you’ve learned how to do it.

How does that make Digital a mixed bag? It’s because there are still those who spend the time to learn the proper way to sketch and paint and shade and express things from cloth folds to fruit decaying with their work. A wacom tablet shouldn’t be considered a replacement for paper, but a reasonable alternative, since you’re still using the same drawing skills for the end result.

This probably sounds different from my earlier statements, mostly because I was playing an extreme side to spark replies. I’ve still noticed that many students my age who are taking classes for art, post secondary, seem to really hate the projects designed to enhance fundamentals. They don’t want to spend time on “stupid” projects because they could just as easily google image search for what they need and use that instead of instinctively knowing the right way to do it. It’s just easier to use a computer.

I imagine that instead of “are we getting too digital” I could have named this thread “are art students getting lazier”

As pointed out by many, there are, fortunately, still artists out there who don’t see these fundamentals as stupid but rather important, and those are the people whose works will stand out from the masses.

And forgive me if I’ve managed to repeat myself, I sometimes tend to do that.


Once, after observing me painting an oil painting for the better part of an hour, my wife suddenly said, “Traditional painting is like gourmet cooking, and digital is like fastfood.”

My wife is a clever one.


I might disagree, for me digital is the equalizer.

I’m a disabled person so trying to work with oil, water, or other real mediums is outright depressing for me. but with my drawing splint attached to my digipen I can draw without getting someone to prepare my tools, my board, and my colours…

I use photoshop like I use real tools, I save on differnt files so I rarely undo, I rarely adjust colours without using a gradient colour fill…

for evidence look at my M&S entry…


I took a laptop and wacom to life drawing class recently and doing something digitally that I normally do with charcoal or gouache really showed me how sloppily I work in photoshop. I rely too much on being able to paint over anything I do wrong, I just splat colour around without enough care for what my brushstrokes really should be. It’s not economical in the same way you have to be with gouches for example. The constrictions of paints force you to develop a good technique much more than the freedom of digital painting. So I guess the path I think I need to pursue is learning painting in the traditional media and then using the skills learned in the digital domain.