Artography : Digital Painting

The process of creating art is better than the art itself …

This article is part of the Artography series. For this, intending to focus on Digital Painting – the art of creating a painting – be it Sketching, Ink, Watercolor or Crayons, etc. using digital medium and tools.
I welcome you to accompany along and see where it leads … :)

A triptych depicting portions (at 100%) of artwork to highlight the art (watercolor, oil, crayon) effect

Medium & Tools

A medium describes each of the items the artist uses to create art. If a certain wood is considered sacred, then using it indicates that the piece of art is very special. Or if an artist uses an uncommon medium, say garbage, it helps the artist make a statement.

excerpt from study.com/art

The medium is not as important as what the artist captures, creates, or conveys. Digital is one other medium. In my case, it is the ease of access and the freedom it provides that pulls me in. Yes, the medium is not as important, but to convey what your heart feels, it does require practice & fluency on the chosen medium.

Devices

A decade and a half back dabbled with a Wacom tablet (with 1024 Pressure Levels pen tip) along with a Windows computer. It was a good tablet but was not fluid enough for painting. Maybe there was no good combination of hardware + software at that time/level. A couple of years later, found the Wacom stylus as part of the Samsung Note series to be quite promising. But the mobile screen was quite small.

A few years back got my hands on iPad + Pencil. Though not a big fan of Apple’s closed eco-system, I was sold. I even tried Android & Windows-based tabs with a stylus, but couldn’t find anything better than the Apple pencil, for that close to native feel. It hit the sweet spot with the right mix of hardware + software.

Maybe the MS Surface and the latest Samsung Tabs might have stepped up their game now. If you exploring options look for pressure-sensitive, fluid, and articulate tilt controls on the stylus with minimal lag. For now, my tool of choice is the iPad + Pencil (6th Gen, 128 GB, WiFi).

iPad 6th Gen WiFi 128GB + Apple Pencil, ProElite Flip Case, running Procreate

There is an App for that

These days, there is an app for everything. And for creating art – there are a slew of apps. Below are a few, from my trials over the years. The key features that I look for while using these apps are – layers, different blend modes, customized brushes, support for a stylus with pressure and tilt control, number of undo, etc.

From the initial days of Android had been using Infinite Design and Sketchbook (even before it was bought by Autodesk). Initially was using these for doodling with my Jot Pro. Subsequently, Autodesk bought Sketchbook and it was great they made it free. Sketchbook is a great app for creating digital illustrations. But it always had the feel of digital art.

Trying to mimic native sketching & coloring, starting exploring options (this time for the iPad + stylus as the mobile screen was proving to be way too small to create any meaningful work). After reading reviews stumbled upon Art Rage. It is quite an easy app to use and comes with straightforward template tools, supports layers, and blend modes. The tools also have basic customization (like flow, smoothness, thickness, etc.). Simple to use and it is available on most of the platforms – Android, iPad, Windows, iOS. After a few weeks of use, felt it was quite restrictive on the custom feel that I wanted to achieve. The search continued and led me to Art Set 4, Crayon Style, Zen Brush, etc. Each has its strength but was not comprehensive.

Finally ended up with Procreate. Currently, this is the app of my choice. The learning curve is a bit steep, but provides amazing control and even comes with a brush studio to create custom brushes. It supports pretty much all kinds of art – Crayon, Pencil, Ink, Watercolor, Oil, illustration, etc. What you can create is really driven & bound only by your imagination.

Replicating traditional ways

why replicate traditional medium? you might ask. It helps to see how the tools of trade work. As with any art – be it traditional painting, photography, cooking – whatever it be – it helps to attain such a command on the medium that the medium disappears.

Trying to replicate the existing traditional medium via digital tools – helps understand how the tools (software, brushes, layers, blend modes, screen sensitivity, pencil/stylus angle, etc.) interact, react & respond. These are key to see how your digital strokes flow and respond to you. How colors on the digital platform mix, or don’t mix also plays into the effects that you target. If you do some traditional art painting, there probably is some unlearning to do :) While there are key differences and some limitations, the digital medium also comes with a lot of advantages – unlimited undo, different layers/blend modes, targeted effects, erase with effect, etc.

The intent is – someday – would love to be able to seamlessly work across these mediums. Truly bring them together – photography, artography, and traditional medium – to convey the art :)

Pencil Drawing & Shading

The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.

There is always something magical to black and white, something raw, something close to the heart. It helps in focusing on the strokes to create texture and depth.

Crayons

For me, just thinking of Crayons brings in childhood memories :) Be it scribbling on the walls or coloring that sun with bright yellow & orange for that school artwork – two elements stand out. One was the grainy & waxy texture typical of crayons and the other is the color itself. You never had a million colors. Crayons always came in a box of 6, 12, or max 24. Anything more was premium :) Luckily there are a few great sites like this that track the basic crayon colors that were ever created and sold (back from 1945).

Crayon colors in 8 count Crayola Box: blue, black, brown, green, orange, red, violet, yellow

So in addition to using the right paper texture, it also helps to create a crayon palette with the right colors so the final work has the native crayon feel.

Watercolor

Just because it is digital, doesn’t mean it isn’t real

Unlike pencil or crayons – watercolor is a wet medium. The beauty of watercolor lies in how the colors flow. Wet on wet or wet on dry and anything in-between, it is lovely to let the strokes play with the texture of the paper. The digital medium being dry does not lend very well for the dynamics of the water and its flow. A few tricks come in handy.

I found this tutorial by Adam to produce results quite close to native watercolor. He leverages different backgrounds with varied blend modes to mimic the textures and key brushes to emulate the flow. There are several different ways and lot of a tutorials on YouTube, but this is the one that worked for me. The brushes are specific to procreate, but Adam’s process can be replicated to any other tool like Photoshop or anything else you use for your art.

I also love the brushes from Abbie Nurse. I got to play with it when she was developing it and had shared the same via Procreate forums. But now it is much more refined, branded, and paid. Her tips around creating your own paper brushes is also quite handy.

Calvin at DrifterStudio has some amazing tutorials. His ways of using selective Hue and Saturation to create shadow and highlight is quite simple yet highly effective.

Along with the above, the digital medium provides – Oil on Canvas, Pen Art, Dot Art, Color Pencil, Acrylic, Calligraphy, Charcoal, illustrations – the options are literally limitless.

Art impacts others, the process of creating art impacts the artist.

Below are several of my work. Hope you let yourself to be impacted ! These were digitally created with Procreate on iPad + Apple Pencil. If you feel inspired, do give it a try and share a link to your work of art in the comments below …

Go, Create some art :)

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