As news outlets across the world are reporting about a young man named Kyle Lambert, whose iPad portraits have gone viral on the internet, questions are once more raised which compare traditional artistic media to the digital forms of today.
Advantages of Digital Painting
For its fans, digital painting has numerous advantages over traditional artwork. Images can be produced at any time, in any lighting, simply by using the computer, with minimal set-up and no need to clean tools afterwards. There are also minimal requirements to purchase equipment: laptops and graphics tablets rarely need replacing, unlike their traditional equivalents of paint and canvases. Images can be produced on the computer with various effects, filters and layers, then sent to the client directly via email or FTP. Any requested alterations are then easy to perform, as the whole piece will not need to be redrawn in a new copy but can simply be overwritten on-screen. Theoretically, this increases the productivity of the artist and could therefore allow them to earn more money by taking more jobs.
Disadvantages of Digital Painting
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages associated with digital artworks. First and foremost, there is no original piece of work. Art is easily replicated digitally, meaning that once a piece is created it is easy for the original artist to lose track of where it is being displayed on the internet and, in some cases, for copyright infringement to take place. There are also the risks of computer problems causing workflow disruption: data can be corrupted by viruses, by error messages and glitches or simply by hardware failure. It is also necessary to work at a computer screen for long hours, with the need to use screens of at least 22". Moreover, the reputations of digital artists are made on the internet, where there is enormous competition. Few digital artists expect to make themselves famous or to become names which are still known in 50 years' time.
Advantages of Traditional Artwork
For most artists, the main advantage is that there is a tangible product which can be displayed, sold and kept for generations. Acrylic and oil paintings can be investments, inherited by children and accruing value over the years. Many people also cite that this tangible quality is also a part of the creation process, in that the tools are relatively unchanged from the earliest days of painting and there is a 'hands-on' approach to creativity which is very appealing. Suppliers such as http://www.jacksonsart.com/ sell the same kinds of paints, canvases and brushes that the Old Masters of the painting world used hundreds of years ago. People can click here to go and immediately find the tools of the trade. Few can quickly understand the complex technical screens of a digital painting program.
Disadvantages of Traditional Painting
The main complaints are to do with it being a messy process, needing special equipment and good lighting. The permanence that others cite as a disadvantage - that characters can't be altered or moved once they are painted - is in fact part of its appeal. Artists must show their skill by getting it right first time.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asineok/8615149632/