I can honestly never decide. Some years ago, I felt that drawing digitally was easier. Just need to make a sketch, no matter how ugly and then just make it pretty on the computer. Later on, I decided that sketching out on my sketchbook was more straightforward and effortless!
In short, I think that it really depends where you are in your art and your mood as well! As a beginner, you might feel drawn by digital art and think it’s easier because of our mutual savior: Ctrl+Z, but it’s not always the case and both traditional and digital art are important in your journey.
Before we start, here’s a (somewhat funny) video of me explaining why I personally think Digital Art is easier!
Now let’s get to the rest of the article and what you need to know.
Types of Digital Art
There are several types of digital art, but we’re only going to talk about the ones that are focused on drawing:
- Vector Art
- Pixel Art
- 2D Digital Art
- 3D Digital Art
Let’s go into them with some more depth.
- Vector Art: the most important thing you need to know about vector and why is it so important is that when you draw with vectors, you can scale your image as much as you want without losing any quality or resolution of the image! Why is this so important? When you’re working with icons, logos and gaming assets, for example, you might need to resize them a lot and this way, you’ll never have any problems if you need them in different sizes.
Depending on the person, it can also be easier to use vector for certain things, I for one, cannot wrap my mind around making icons with simple brushes on Manga Studio!
On this note, there are two main places where you can create some vector graphics: Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape, the last one is a free software, although a bit less intuitive it’s easy to handle. You can also do some vector graphics in Adobe Photoshop, a lot of people prefer it, but I feel that Illustrator is easier to use, especially if you’re a beginner, and it also gives you more options and freedom with your vector creations!
- Pixel Art: this is almost an opposite form of art from vectors. Pixel art is inspired by the 8-bit and 16-bit computer and gaming consoles when everything was very squared and simplified. Now, this seems to be the aesthetic of choice for many indie game developers, of course now a bit more evolved, there are many styles to pick, from very simple to very complex shapes and shadings! This kind of art is usually created pixel by pixel, so very time consuming, focusing in small pieces that create a larger piece of art, similar to mosaic and cross-stitching, for example!
I never really tried my hand at this art form, but if you’re interested to, Photoshop and Gimp (a free software, similar to Photoshop) can do the job or, if you want something more specific, Aseprite is what you’re looking for.
- 2D Digital Art: Buckle up, because this is my field! I’m kidding, I’ll try to keep it short. It’s right there in the name, but very simply put, 2D art is flat! And it doesn’t necessarily need to be digital: a simple pencil drawing is 2D art. You can approach this type of art with many styles, making more cartoonish drawings, focused on flat colors and shadings and lineart, for example, or drawings focused on blotches of paint that end up on very detailed and complex pieces and even caricatures!
There’s a lot to pick from and the same goes for the software you can use. Personally, I use Clip Studio Paint, which I always use and love. Then once again Photoshop is also a favorite. Other options you can look for are GIMP and Paint Tool SAI, so pick your weapon of choice and start some art!
- 3D Digital Art: While 2D is flat, 3D is the opposite, there are depth and three-dimensional perspective. In traditional, sculpture is one example of 3D art and digitally, this form of art is often used to create models of characters, objects, and others for animated movies and games!
If you’re interested in trying your hand at 3D art, Blender and SketchUp are two free software you can use and they’re very popular and both also offer either a public forum where you can talk with others or tutorials so you can start learning.
Digital Art Is More Forgiving
As opposed to traditional art, you can very easily change your mind or fix your mistakes when drawing digitally.
Ctrl-Z is your best friend, so much that whenever I paint on the computer for too long and then switch up to my sketchbook and I draw a line I’m not happy with, I find myself, unconsciously, trying to use Ctrl-Z in real life! Crazy, right? But it’s true, it does happen.
Drawing digitally also makes it easier to choose colors and change them and their levels with a simple click of your mouse.
In short, digital art lets you change your paintings without ruining them.
You can always go back, erase some bits or make the changes you wish too. While with traditional, if you mess up too much, it’s not so easy to fix it!
Do not fear traditional art though, it can be very refreshing and interesting to work with and one of its advantages is that it’s more palpable than digital.
The Pros and Cons of Digital Art
You’re learning with every new experience and traditional art will teach you a lot that digital is unable to.
So do try and practice with both, you can even discover a new traditional technique that you can adapt to digital to enhance and improve your drawings!
Texture and different materials make you feel more connected to your drawings. Some people actually feel, in a way, disconnected with their digital art, because they can’t feel it and actually find it harder to paint digitally. As always it’s a matter of personal taste and you should always try new and different things, even if you prefer only one of them.
Depending on the artist, an advantage of digital art is that it tends to be faster!
Even if you’re a very detailed artist or just a slow painter, there are no waiting times for your drawing to dry and there’s no risk that something will fall on your painting and ruin it because it wasn’t fully dried yet.
Lastly, digital art can be cheaper!
Traditional art can be quite expensive, even though you can buy materials in a low budget range, chances are they’re not as good and even if they are, you’ll run out of them. With digital art, there’s free software, some of them I already mentioned above, so do take a look at them if you haven’t tried any yet.
You can also find drawing tablets for a very low price and it will last you for a long time.
With digital, you have endless possibilities of styles and techniques to play with, all with the same computer, software and drawing tablet!
You Still Need to Know the Basics
Even if digital art presents itself as more forgiving and easier, you still need to learn the basics! If you’re a beginner artist, I advise you to learn the basics with the traditional pencil and paper.
Anatomy, composition, perspective and color theory can be best learn in the traditional form, because, just like we talked before, of the feeling.
Not only do you feel it better in your own hand and paper, since it’s not as easy to hide your mistakes, you can keep them and see where you’ve gone wrong and continue the practice until you handle it.
Your hand also needs that practice.
If you never drew in your life, it can be quite hard to jump right to digital. Your hand and arm need to get used to the movements first.
Remember, don’t fear any mistake you could make when drawing digitally, sure there’s not Ctrl-Z for you to use, but you can learn with it and try again until you master it.
If you’re curious even, attend some figure drawing classes, with real-life models!
It’s a very fun way for you to learn some anatomy, different positions, and perspectives and you can also talk with fellow artists and share your work and experiences.
The most important, as always, is to have fun with your work and paintings!
Know Your Tools, Know Yourself
Your art style and tools tell a lot about you.
While practicing and improving my style, I discovered that flashy, very dynamic paintings weren’t me. Not only did I think I couldn’t properly draw them, I was never 100% happy with them, with their energy. I like peaceful pieces and soft tones, but at times, some texture and also greyish and sepia tones.
So it’s no wonder that most of my digital art is very quiet and that my favorite form of traditional art is watercolors or simple ink pens and markers!
To know your style and what tools you like to work best with, you have to try them.
You might not be perfect at them at first try, in truth, it’s very unlikely for it to happen. The first time you tried to cook, it probably didn’t go as well as it goes now, as always, you have to make a lot of tries and learn the tools and then you can figure out if you like it or not.
Even with digital art this happens, there’s a ton of brushes you can use and some you’ll like right away and others not. And even if you found a favorite, later on, you might find a whole different style and texture you prefer.
After some trials, whenever you find your favorite tools, use them and perfect them.
The most important thing is that you’re happy with your results.
You’re not doing art for others, but for yourself and people will like something that they can tell it was made with love and there’s a piece of the artist in it.
Is Digital Art Real Art?
Some people will argue that digital art isn’t real art since it doesn’t seem to be as complex as traditional.
Well, here’s the truth: they’re just different!
Both are valid options and both are real. Just like traditional, you have to learn to draw and paint digitally, they just work differently and if you’re more used to one than the other, it’s more than natural that it will be easier for you.
It’s always a matter of practice!
I’ve seen digital pieces that are astounding and very realistic and the same goes for traditional art.
One does not diminish the other and you can tell that the artist put a lot of effort and time on them. Most of the things you can do on paper, with brushes, paint or any other tool, you can do it on the computer as well.
The major difference between both is the tools and how many of them you actually need.
With traditional, you’ll usually need a lot more instruments than in a computer, where you can save many different brushes and textures to create different effects and styles.
If you do prefer to work digitally, don’t let yourself down into thinking that digital art isn’t real art.
You took time with it, everything was done by you and that’s what makes art real!
Time and Money Investment
You’ll have to invest a lot of time if you want to improve your drawing skills.
Just like if you’re practicing a new sport, or learning a new instrument, where you’ll have to train almost every day to learn it properly and to get better at it.
Take some time every day to draw, even if it’s just 30 minutes!
This is more important than the books and tools you can buy. Just keep in mind they won’t do you any good, sitting on a shelf somewhere, you have to use them to learn them!
If you feel that it’s hard for you to learn fully by yourself, do consider taking some classes. Not only in your city, but the Internet is full of places that offer teaching and they can be more affordable.
Udemy and Skillshare are wonderful communities, with a variety of courses that you can try and enroll. I do teach classes in both of them and it always makes me happy to see my students learn, have fun and share their work with me!
As you improve, you might also want to invest in your own tools.
In the beginning, there’s a lot of experimentation and I’d say quality it’s not as important. You’ll probably use your materials a lot, sometimes in a wrong way and even throw a lot of paper in the garbage. It’s quite normal, so don’t fret about it!
But try to make it easier on your wallet, start with cheaper materials and as you progress and understand them better, do invest in better tools!
The same goes for digital, as a beginner, you won’t need a super digital tablet, a simple one will do for you at the beginning.
Start small and grow from there.
If you can’t invest a lot financially, it’s fine! There’s a lot of low budget options and what matters the most in art, is the time you choose to invest in learning it than how good your tools are.
The tool doesn’t make you a good artist, it helps you, but practice is what makes you a good artist!
Summing it up
Only you know what is easier for you and how long you’ve been doing it.
In general, I prefer digital art, but I don’t feel it’s easier.
Digital and traditional art are different and each has its own quirks and tricks. Choose one that you like to work the best and focus on it. Both are important in your artistic journey, but you don’t need to invest the same amount of time in them.
Just do what makes you happy!