• Friday, March 06, 2015

Going from Traditional to Digital Art

Fahim Anzoom Rumman
Photo: Darshan Chakma
Photo: Darshan Chakma

Digital artists are popping up everywhere, as those in the business know very well. Everything that requires artwork has evolved to a digital platform. The films you see and games you play have tons of digital concept artwork behind them, the ads on TV, even the fanart you stumble upon on the internet are mostly digital. When I first came to know of this, I was very confused about which medium to choose.
There are thousands of online forums discussing the pros and cons of traditional and digital artworks, as Google search will reveal. In fact, opinions vary so much that you might end up more confused. Asking art teachers did not help either, as most of them hail traditional over digital medium, because traditional is all they have ever known and they have almost no experience in digital.
Most people might think digital artists have it easy. But to be honest traditional artists have it easier on
many aspects. A digital artist has to constantly zoom in and zoom out of the image to check if their proportions/compositions are correct, whereas while drawing on paper or canvas, artists can constantly keep track of these without much effort.
All traditional artworks are completely unique, and therefore will always have a higher market value than digital. People would rather frame a traditional abstract than an intensely complex and detailed digital piece. In comicon artist stalls, you will always find people to be more interested in the works done on papers than digital artwork printed on photopaper. Most competitions don't even recognise digital artwork. Everything required to make traditional artwork is easily available in the market.
Materials for traditional artwork are costly. One can always find cheaper ones but quality will be compromised. And good luck on storing buckets of paint and loads of canvases if you don't have a studio. Traditional medium is almost extinct for professional work like concept artwork or logo designing. Since traditional pieces are unique, they can also be time consuming. If someone wants to make even a 5 panel comic strip, they have to know Photoshop. Traditional work is not ideal for deadlines.
Material for the digital medium can be costly as well, although they are mostly fixed. Wacom tablets are high priced and are only available at a few locations in Bangladesh. Even the cheapest Wacom starts from Tk 15,000 now (since they stopped making Bamboo models). A moderately upgraded computer is required for high-res works. Original software costs a lot too, though [almost] no one buys originals in Bangladesh, and no one knows where original copies of Photoshop are sold in Dhaka. Some artists feel that people can be prejudiced against digital work, and they don't take digital art seriously.

Working digitally makes a lot of things easier. There are tons of tutorials for starters. It's simple to switch softwares and cover your weakness. Though it opens up doors to cheating, it is also easy to catch the copycats. Good concept work is one of the bases of a good game (take a look at the making of God of War, they spent more time on building characters than on anything).
Digital art material may be costly but they are long term. Once you are all set, things will go smoothly for 4-5 years.
Digital medium is just another tool for creating artwork, and if one thinks that digital is easier, s/he has another thing coming. In the end, no matter which software you have or what tablet you use, without basic ideas achieved from traditional work, these won't make your art any better.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, January 05, 2014

Last modified: 11:58 pm Sunday, January 05, 2014

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