cheating in CG


would you consider burning and dodging cheating when painting? it obviously doesnt always give the same effect as when you paint it yourself, so why do it? do you use those tools at all?
what about filters? isnt it kind of cheap when people just paint something ‘mediocre’, then apply a filter over it to cover that up?
do some of the cg software’s tools discourage authentic 100% original painting? or am i just insane, and its all just a question of moderation in how we use them?

i understand if the filter is used moderately [sorry for the, um, vast span of my vocabulary] and is just a way of helping certain aspects of the piece, but i dont think the entire piece should depend on the software’s capabilities.
i only use burn/dodge for slight adjustments, set to a very low opacity. i’m still learning how to paint, and still dont know very much about how to colour [mostly because of lack of practice], but i’ve learnt that burn and dodge should not be solely relied upon when painting.

let me know what all you crazy experts think.


I was thinking the exact same thing… Is it T.R.U.E Artwork… hummmmmm


one can argue that its what the final product looks like, and to a certain extent, it is. But i find if i ‘cheat’, it comes back to me and i dont feel creative or original when i finish a piece (happens infrequently anyway).

Remember they are only tools. filters rarely look good, so dont use them. burn and dodge often dont look as good as using the right colours, so dont use them. but sometimes burn and dodge do exactly what you are looking for. so i dont see the problem in using it. just know you can do the same thing with colour. hell, in theory, you can do the same (similar) thing with oils.

maybe all digital art is cheating? i dont think so. its got its own style, and even though its style is technically devoid of a physical element, tools like burn and dodge have its place.
its a twist on words, but ive seen artists use flames from a candle to burn their traditional pieces for a desired effect.

in my last uni project i used a lot of dodge and burn. i took a metric-assload of shortcuts, but thats because i was incredibly short of time and was looking for a certain level of visual quality. i was using reference and appropriating. it worked, i got the look i was after, and i wasnt limited creatively by the approach to the art, but it made me feel terribly unoriginal and uncreative.

some 3d artists have ‘stock’ models that they create - hands, torso’s, heads etc which have very good topology which they can just resculpture (to a certain extent) for a new project.

In one way, it depends what kind of art you are making - art for the sake of learning and honing skills, or concept art - creating an idea or telling a story. for the latter, the use of ‘cheating’ as we have established is less relevant. its how you approach representation of forms, colour, ideas, characters, places, all that jazz, that is more important.


double post


Artwork is what you make of it – Duchamp hammered that point into the world when he “produced” the Fountain. What you may consider cheating, other people may consider art; the synthesis of an artwork is one of the few occassions in which the ends justify the means. You’re endeavoring to phase dodging and burning out of your usage, but there are other people whose styles are <i>based</i> on those two tools. Some people might never in their lives mask off an area they’re airbrushing while other people might never touch an airbrush without masking out a network of tape layers.

Is it cheating? To you, maybe. To others, it’s a means to an end that’s every bit as acceptable as any other.

I do know this for sure – The guys who wrote Photoshop didn’t code certain features saying to themselves “Only a no-talent hack would ever touch this.” Their belief was that tools were meant to be used, and it’s how an artist treats this selection that defines his results.


the only “tool” I try to avoid when painting is undo

I like errors, I like when a painting have its “history” visible

but I wouldn’t say any CG tool (2D or 3D) is cheating, after all, art is cheating (or, is it really a pipe?)



You know, burning and dodging have been around longer than Photoshop, and is a common practice with 35mm photography in the dark room. I know because I took a Intro to 35mm Photography (Black & White) a year ago at my local college.


I don’t think people should use scanners to scan their sketches for painting over on the computer. I feel that they should draw directly on the screen. With a mouse, no tablet. In fact, using a computer at all is cheating. We should all draw on bark with charcoal sticks burned in our campfires :wink:

The computer offers tools. Tools, by their very nature, are meant to be used in some way. How you apply them and how much you use them is up to you however I am pretty sure there is no standard that says “Well, now THAT is real art! You can tell because he painted it all himself”.

You could liken it to electronic, or even electified/amplified music. Is dance music/sample based music not “real music” because a computer helps you out? Sure, you could get the computer to do it all for you, but a good musician will use the technology to do things that are impossible to achieve traditionally or pushes the music in a new direction.

The computer is a tool to use. A good artist will know when to use the tools at their disposal and when to back off.

Not saying that I am a good artist - - more lens flare and sparkles!!


The only thing that matters is the result. Is it:

  1. Unique? (which if you copy or filter a photograph, it probably won’t be)
  2. Good? (impossible to define, everyone has their own definition, but I’m sure you get what I mean)
    If both of those are true, then it doesn’t matter how you reached the result. (Unless you broke some law, duh.)


Yep, the only thing that matters is the final outcome.

No such thing as cheating, as long as you don’t do something illegal.

Use every trick in the book, if it works, it works, that’s what the greats do.

If the final result is interesting then that’s all I care about. Of course this place is a bit of an exception cos it’s full of artists, and, to be honest there are lots of really anal nitpickers on these forums. Thing is, they usually so busy looking for errors they miss the big picture. They are usually the people saying real photos look fake cos the lightning is off. Go figure.

So yeah, the most important thing is the vision and the idea behind the work. Think BIG, show us something we haven’t seen before! Don’t worry about whether or not some ppl may or may not think you cheated, if you do that you’re already failed probably.


this arguement pops up all the time… it happened with airbrushing (you dont paint the gradients so therefore you are cheating.)

well the texture of the canvas effects for work so therefore traditional art on canvas is cheating …
btw using a ruler or a compass is cheating …

using an eraser… smudging with your fingerr…using a smudge stick or stump … using a ruler, projector, compass or circle templet all cheating…

art is a form of creation just create and dont worry how or what rule their are about the process…

by the way i typed this message on my keyboard i do beleive that may be cheating too


To be honest i do class is it as cheating. Even if you don’t there are still reasons for not using it like its unpredictability.


The argument here stand between two things. The process and the product. Most people think what matters is the product. So, it depends on how you look at it. btw, I am pro-process !!

In the not so remote past, tracing a picture was considered “cheating” simply because it overrides the skill to depict and draw based on observation. Those who do this, they only are cheating themselves. The disadvantage one gets from tracing for example, their hands will never improve in catching the detail and be creative in drawing from imagination. The dodge and burn tools are cheap tricks, but I wouldn’t say they are cheats, they are just cheap like rubbing the pencil graphite on paper to achieve tonal range. That is only my standard in appreciating creative work.


I think you cannot cheat in digital art. the tools used will always look like the tools used.
If you use burn and dodge, everyone will see it, because it gives the image a “plastic” look. But if you’re skilled enough and use it very careful, you can create some nice effects by it.
Burn & dodge tools actually weren’t created for painting, but for editing photographs. And I don’t use them at all; I only use a brush.

Filters also are obvious. They don’t make painting look professional and can’t be “cheating”, but rather “raping” the image. They were as well actually created for photos.

If you want to make a painting that looks altogether professional, let’s say, like one of Christophe Vacher’s paintings, no single painting media will provide you special tricks: neither watercolors, neither the computer… all you need are skills and experience and the desire to learn. :slight_smile:

You’re right. a piece - a good one - can’t depend solely on the software’s capabilities, because computers cannot paint. Only humans can.


Hmm surely digital cameras can paint in the same way a digital artist can so by technicality computers can paint. Even then they could change the colours or even add effects.


but even if its for photography, it still looks really cheap when you just apply a filter. well, to me it looks cheap anyway.


wow, thats great if you dont undo at all. i find thats why cg is so awesome, because its easier, and cleaner. for some i guess its cheating, but for me, its a tool. a very useful one at times.


like Peddy said, cg is a style, a form of art i guess. i dont see whats wrong with scanning a sketch, as long as you have the rights to it. and whats wrong with tablets? they’re just another part of the cg world. just another tool i guess. i dont understand why you say using computers at all is cheating. its supposed to help the artist, make their work process easier.


most of the people that say its cheating is because they would use it for cheating … tracing is not cheating for me cause if i want to i could draw the image but due to speed i would trace to get right to the painting part


thanks for all the replies. i guess its a very subjective question, and involves a lot of personal opinion. then again, what isnt.

and also, ive heard people say, ‘its not cheating, its using your ressources.’ d: