Is Digital Art Real Art? The Debate Is Over


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Key Takeaways

  • Digital art is a valid form of art and is considered real art.
  • The medium of art is constantly evolving, which makes room for new art forms to be established.
  • Digital art is created through various techniques:
    • Handrawn digital paintings.
    • 3D sculptures.
    • AI-generated art.
    • Generative art.
    • Digital collages, etc.
  • The tools and technologies used by artists are constantly changing and evolving, much like brushes, paints, and cameras before them.
  • Digital artists rely on the same techniques and training as traditional artists, just digitized.

What Is Digital Art

Digital art is art created using some form of digital software or apparatus. In some cases, a digital artist will draw an outline or sketch on paper, then scan it onto the computer to continue working on it in software.

Popular art software includes Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, Autodesk, Photoshop, and Krita. These software, however, don’t seek to do the artist’s job for them. Rather, they seek to aid the artist in his creative endeavors. One of the biggest advantages of using these software programs is having access to unlimited tools.

Innovative software allows the artist to choose from a variety of tools designed to simulate real-life art supplies. These tools include watercolor, pencils, airbrushes, and even stencils.

Software indeed relies on artificial intelligence (or a special piece of code) to fuel its abilities. However, these AI properties only seek to make the digital drawing process as close to real life as possible. But the actual drawing and creation process is left to the artist.

This includes making tools react to pressure sensitivity and the natural behaviors of the material (such as brush texture and paint thickness). The result is not only an authentic experience for the artist but a piece indistinguishable from real life.

Still, some ask what’s the point of drawing something on the computer only to make it look as hand-drawn as possible. Many digital artists counter that digital art enables them to access thousands more materials and tools than possible in real life.

Even the color picker alone eliminates the need for buying paint or specifically colored pencils or markers.

But digital drawing has added benefits that traditional art doesn’t have, such as the ability to work in layers and undo actions. It allows the artist to explore their creative intuitions without being limited by the physical medium.

And many of those artists don’t seek to add a hand-drawn feel to their pieces but rather experiment with digital art styles and even CGI.

What Is Art

Is Digital Art Real Art_example_art_example

Art is the imitation of life, or perhaps more accurately described, the imitation of how we dream about life.

Art is not defined by style, amount of effort, or medium it’s created. With the digital boom of the 21st century, computers were bound to intersect with the world of art, and it didn’t take long before they did.

If art inspires us, and computers empower us and make us smarter, it’s natural that the two come together. Some digital artists delve into niches such as “digital painting,” which is virtually indistinguishable from painting in real life.

Other artists, however, playfully work with more surreal and pop culture-centered themes: Industrial, ethereal, natural landscapes, urban jungles, mythical creatures, and anime and manga. Digital art and its surrounding community enabled the art world to explode into several new dimensions.

Digital Art Requires Real Art Knowledge

One common misconception is that digital art takes out the work of real art. Real art, apparently, is only to be achieved without any assistance and after years of dedicated training and knowledge. Well, those people aren’t wrong. Real art requires some knowledge and practice, but so does digital art.

Learning how to draw digitally takes even more specialized knowledge than the traditional artist has. 

Like the traditional artist, having a strong foundation in art fundamentals is key. No tool makes or corrects the values of a piece. It is up to the artist to make these things happen.

In that sense, you could consider a drawing software, stylus, or tablet like an artist’s instrument. The instrument doesn’t create on its own. It’s up to the artist to wield his skill and knowledge and command the instrument to do as he wishes.

Similarly, people aren’t born knowing how to play an instrument. It’s not a natural skill, although some might have a higher inclination due to their interests and talents. Drawing, regardless of what medium you do it on, requires years of practice and a strong foundation in universal art skills.

The Only Difference Between Traditional Art And Digital Art

The only difference that can be said between traditional art and digital art is that one uses a computer, and the other doesn’t. The tablet is the paper, the stylus is the pencil, and the computer is the eye. 

It’s worth noting that many digital artists (if not all) began as traditional artists or were trained in traditional mediums. That’s why digital art has such an incredible variety in style, despite many pieces being created by the same software (Clip Studio Paint, for example).

A unique thing about digital art is that it allows for blending genres and other mediums.

Just as many people upload traditional art to be worked on in the software, others also incorporate photographs, text, and even music.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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