I spoke with a gentleman recently who asked for me to do a drawing of his wife. When asked which kind of drawing he wanted, traditional or digital he replied he had "...no interest in something done by a computer" that he wanted "something drawn by a real person. Computer art isn't real art."

Suddenly it occurred to me that there is a misunderstanding about art done using a computer or an iPad. I understand the confusion, there is a distinctive difference in the resulting artwork. Expectations about an artist doing an illustration for you are pretty common, you go to them to do a custom drawing, They do the artist thing and you receive a "work of art" -that is to say art that they have worked on.

A couple of things to decide when you hire an artist: Do you like the stuff said artist creates? Which option (traditional or digital) offers the best kind of art you want to have done? Both mediums have completely different looks so knowing which you prefer is key. The big factor is expectation. Often our expectations are influenced by our opinions or understanding of the things we pursue. Such as the opinion that drawings done using a computer aren't "real art".

The Encyclopedia of Britannica defines ART as: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. Though I would describe that explanation as a bit stiff I believe it is fairly accurate, allowing for personal subjectivity of course.

These pages are meant to illustrate -HA!- the process of drawing digitally. I am not trying manipulate anyone's understanding of digital artwork, rather just to demonstrate that it is in no way an easy process or a cheat in regards to art. Most importantly drawings done on a computer are NOT created by a machine!

The drawing below is of Steve Martin back when he was a "wild and crazy guy!"
The photographs on this page are meant to demonstrate the process used to
create a satirical drawing.

Before I draw a single line...
Whether drawn with a pencil or a stylus both methods start in the same place. My first step is gathering images that will help me do the best drawing I can. In the old days an artist had to rely on magazines, books, any printed material they could find.

These days all one needs is internet access and a keyboard. The web is a treasure trove of images of just about everybody you want to draw. When I am looking for pictures of my subjects I look for great expressions or looks that I (and hopefully others) connect with in relation to their personality or character.


Step 1

Drawing out a rough sketch whether using a pencil or a stylus is pretty much the same. This process is basically blocking out the shape of the head using very light, rough lines. The trick is not to get too detailed at this stage. The biggest difference between using a pencil and a computer is the ability to fix a mistake by hitting undo.



At this point it's time to lock down the sketch making changes, adding details and working towards a likeness. This part of the process can take some time just like using a pencil. When satisfied with this step it's time to finalize the line art.

This step is my personal favorite. The line work has a spontaneous feel.



Step 3

If drawing in the real world the next step would be inking over the sketch. Some will pencil very, very lightly and ink right over the top. Some will use a light table and put a blank paper over the sketch and ink that way. In the digital realm, graphics programs provide a variety of tools that emulate pens, brushes, charcoals, pencils even crayons.



Step 4

Keep in mind that from this point on the steps may vary from artist to artist. After creating the solid line art it is time for color. For things like skin and hair I have a pallet that I use to get things started, everything else is based on the subject matter.

I use pretty basic colors to start with. Typically they are flat and very, very simple.



Step 5

After applying basic colors to the drawing it is time for depth and shading. This step relies heavily on the talent of the artist. These particular drawings are done using a very limited number of colors.
Unlike painting with brushes I use a simple contrast. In this instance it is my personal preferred style. Some artists would consider this drawing completed.



Step 6

Most caricature work -especially traditional caricatures, are finished with black lines and color fills. At this point digital allows color to be added to the line work thus changing the feel of the drawing. This again is a preference on my part. The black line option will always be available.
Adding color to black line artwork takes time. No machine does it on its own.



So is digital art really art?
In my humble opinion the answer is yes. Is it art that you like? That is up to you. I have been drawing professionally for 34+ years. I have drawn with Pencils, Markers & ArtStix in B&W and Color, and of course Digitally. It has been my experience that when using a computer I am inspired by the almost limitless variety of drawings I can achieve. That ability sparks creativity and stirs my imagination. Without a doubt there is a skill that is necessary to achieve any pleasing results. The rest is "opinion".

The Encyclopedia of Britannica defines ART as: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.

To quote a favorite personality from my early years: "Nuff said!"


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