AHIS 430 – Working Digitally vs Traditionally

Whether to work traditionally or digitally: its a question that we all have to ask ourselves! And its especially relevant to artists, as sometimes it feels like digital art and traditional art are two beasts which develop completely separate from each other. I tend to use a combination of both methods.

Specifically, I often find myself working traditionally when creating a solid foundation before I move forward. Paper and pencil provide the quickest vehicle for getting out all my ideas, no matter the project I’m working on.

At this stage, (perhaps ironically) I find the precision and control that working digital allows to be overly restricting. At this moment, I don’t need to have much control, because its not producing ready to go, beautiful working. My sketching process is about figuring out my plan of action and getting stuff onto paper.In my experience, the undo button or the backspace button is my worst enemy. It’s very easy to fall into a cycle where you work for hours and in the end, having nothing to do to show for it because the option to get rid of your work exists. For that reason, when sketching I find it can be helpful to avoid using erasers or even to pens or markers instead.

I find I have less of a problem using my ipad and ipad pencil than typing (if I’m writing something). It’s a feature , which by all means is supposed to mimic the process of writing. It requires the same physical actions and the “pencil strokes” even mimic that of graphites. I’m not sure that I’d consider it the same as writing on paper. It’s definitely not my first choice, I think I’ll always prefer working on paper, but it is a definite upgrade than just tying.

However, that’s not to say that digital mediums don’t have their place in sketching process. I find working digitally at a later stage of my sketching process to be immensely useful. Especially when I’m creating different colour palettes for an illustration. Digital media allows me access to whatever colour I want (which sometimes is also not a good thing) and I don’t have to worry about any kind of mess or any limitations of traditional media. Additionally the copy and paste features are very useful when I’m trying to create lots of different variations. When writing, it’s easier to edit sentences and to compare variations of possible sentences I could use. In summary, when I’m trying to create and compare variations I find digital media a better option.

When approaching the final product, I tend to find myself using digital media. Less so in art, but definitely when writing. In art, I appreciate the flexibility that is inherent in the media, although I don’t think that is necessary at all. Additionally resizing options, rotation and symmetry tools, are very convinient tools to have and significantly speed up the processs.

I think when doing illustrations digitally, it requires a less thought out of plan. The ability to undo things and change my colour palette along the way and straight up paint over what i’ve already done and still have the possibility to undone it all (thank you layers) acts as a very good safety net. Additionally, in my experience it’s usually faster (although that may be due to a  lack of experience working with traditional artwork) . So while I often do work digitally and I think its an option that works very well for me, I’m definitely interested in seeing if it’s truly the best medium for me to use.

In short, I find that there are advantages and disadvantages to each and I often change my direction in order to take advantage of each medium. I think that working traditionally has massive benefits but I wonder if those benefits outweigh the negatives for everyone.

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