Digital art – Basic info

This post has been created for the many people who have asked me over the years looking for guidance on how to create digital Art. It is intended for those that have little or no prior knowledge on the subject. It is not a tutorial on how to create digital art, there are many such tutorials on the web and they are easy to find once you have decided on the particular type of software you wish to use.

What you should know about digital art
It is a general misconception among people who know nothing about digital art that it is  easy. They often believe that computers do it all and people that use such programs have little artistic skill. With the exception of some fractal programs, virtually all drawing and paint programs require 100% human input. Many have steep learning curves and most demand the same artistic skill required for their real world counter parts. These programs can speed up the creative process and often they have effects that can be applied to images that if done manually would take a long time or be virtually impossible. The bottom line is if you can’t paint or draw then a paint or drawing program really won’t change that reality.  Yes you could take a photo and give it an artistic effect and then claim your a digital artist but it wouldn’t really be true would it .
The following cool video I found on youtube shows that an ability to draw and paint is still a requirement for most software.

Digital art and photography is highly addictive and for those with creative imaginations, it opens up unlimited possibilities. But i’m sure the first time you open one of these programs your heart may sink, as seldom what you can achieve with them is obvious.

Types of Digital Art
Digital art is a general term that covers all the ways of producing visual art on a computer. Below are the most common three ways of creating art work.

1) Photo manipulation or Photo editing software
This software helps you to manipulate photos from digital cameras or scanners. These photographs are often called bitmap or Raster images, they are made up from many tiny parts which are called pixels. The software lets you edit these pixels so radically that everyday photos can be turned into a totally original and unrelated work of art.
2) Graphic Programs
Often called vector software these programs are used to create illustrations and logos by editing and combining conventional shapes or objects, or by creating your own complex shapes. A single illustration can be made up of a great many combined objects. Vector images unlike bitmaps use far less memory and they often present a far smoother image when viewed close up.
3) 3D modeling programs
3D graphics are similar  to vector graphics in that finished images are often created from many combined  geometric shapes and curves. That said 3d programs can produce objects in many different ways. 3D software requires a lot of computing power and is the least like any real world art form, by that i mean skills as a conventional artist have very little relevance here until the final stages of 3d creation when 3d  models are painted.

Many digital artists myself included create works by sometimes combining all the above software types. That said there are also those who will only ever use one paint or drawing package and achieve everything they need.
Digital art software is seldom cheap and I would never recommend buying any software without first using a trial. The price of software like photoshop is a major outlay, i have been using photoshop since version 4 and still recommend it. That said I’m fully aware that much of what it can achieve is now duplicated by much more sensibly priced software, so look around for a program that will meet your needs.
After a lifetime on a pc I now use a mac and love it.  Please don’t believe the BS from the graphic world you can be just as creative on a PC and in fact there are many more digital art programs for the PC than the Mac.
Few words final of advise:-
Digital art should be fun it should not be about technology it should be about you and your creative vision. There will always be people that produce great work that you will stand in awe at. The trick is not to try and be other people but be yourself. If you work hard at your craft you will in time find an audience for your work. You can read all the manuals on the earth but i recommend you just load up the program and play until it all starts to make sense. Yes these programs will crash from time to time, but you can’t break the software by using it. So what are you waiting for? down load a trial and dive in.

Some links to Digital Art software I’ve used over the years

Good Luck A Voss