Making the Switch! Analog to Digital Art

Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My favorite mediums are often messy ones- clay sculpture, charcoal, watercolor and gouache. The tranquility of art making is a meditative, even spiritual experience. It’s transcendent.  Making art with a computer instead of with dirt and clay and oil has long felt unnatural to me. So I resisted it. For 15 years.

The reality of my life as a game illustrator has opened my eyes. The glow of magic and stars and otherworldly things is not easily achieved with watercolor and gouache. The occasional master oil painter can do it, but who’s got time to sit around while paint dries when there’s a deadline? And limited income potential? That’s a topic for a post of its own, but suffice it to say that I cannot afford to spend untold hours on everything I do because even cover art isn’t worth more than a couple grand on the outside. Still, more important than the money is the sheer beauty of what digital art can do. My Pinterest board collection is full of examples of digitally rendered masterpieces. Digital art also makes it easier to create smooth outlines and line art, to correct proportion and perspective issues, and of course, the mother of all pros: CTRL Z – Undo!

What digital art cannot do is replace that transcendent experience of making art using nothing but a bit of burnt wood or crushed rocks and oil. Rendering a face from the tips of your own fingers. That beloved CTRL Z is also the greatest drawback of digital art. While it IS wonderful for exploration, it also limits adaptability. Mistakes that cannot be undone can lead to innovation. Where no mistake is permanent, creativity is bridled.

Still, it’s time to take the leap. I use GIMP, because it’s actually a pretty decent program and because free is significantly better then $600 per year for the competition. I’m currently using a Huion Pro tablet, which is difficult to get set up due to driver drama, but it suffices.

I present my first three attempts at digital art!


Elven Fightergirl1

The first, a baby dragon sleeping on a crescent moon, is based on a scanned sketch. The second, the she-elf, is a study in painting over line art. The line art is scanned from my original. The third piece, the woman with purple hair, is completely digital and not based on a scanned sketch. All three were completed over the last two weeks.

This is a base. A first step on a new path. Let’s see where it goes!

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