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  1. #1

    What's Your Opinion--Digital Art or Traditional?


    I'm a longtime fan of fantasy art. My favorites include Frank Frazetta, Michael Whelan, Boris Vallejo, Dean Morrissey, Brom, Barry Windsor-Smith---the list goes on and on. Several years ago I discovered art produced by computer programs and became fascinated by the look of the work. I started doing digital art myself--I've posted an image in the art gallery that some of you have taken the time to view (more than I expected)! Thank you for that.

    I'm wondering if people have a preference these days. Do you all prefer the look of traditional art produced with traditional media, or are you open to the computer generated art? I'm really curious about this. For those of you who are interested in seeing a digitally created piece of art, pop over to the art gallery. The image is called Lady Of Ravens. Then head back over here and let your opinion be heard.

    Will digital art ever replace traditional art? Do you want to see more digital art on fantasy book covers? Or is there something about the genre that demands traditional art produced by hand?

    Let's talk about it!


    Mark-Wayne Harris AKA CatJack

  2. #2
    Seven Mary Four Glelas's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Been leaning toward Digital Art lately.
    Nice job on Lady of the Ravens. What software do you use? I have been meaning to dabble in Digital Art whenever time permits but time never permits.

  3. #3
    Thanks for giving your opinion and taking a peek at the art, Meriadoc. I used Poser 4 for the figures and Bryce 5 for the environment. Which programs were you interested in to get your dabbling started? Have you ever visited the art forum at I have a lot of images posted there under the name JackStr8 and they have a LOT of fantastic digital artists posting there. Check it out when you get a chance.

  4. #4
    Guarded by the Moon Moderator Lani's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    SF Bay Area
    I've moved this thread to the Art section of the site, so everyone interested can reply there.

  5. #5
    Kiss my axe! kahnovitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    London /UK
    I like digital art a lot and a friend of mine who dabbles in it, amazes me with what he can produce.
    I can't draw/paint etc for toffee so digital art might be a way for less maually dexterous people (like me) to actually create something.

    BTW I like your "Lady of the Ravens" but where does she keep her sword?

    Did you sketch it out roughly first on paper, or just create it straight from your mind's eye?
    Also I'd love to know what software you use.

  6. #6
    Artist Steph19041961's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    CatJack said: "I'm wondering if people have a preference these days. Do you all prefer the look of traditional art produced with traditional media, or are you open to the computer-generated art?"

    I would have to say, it depends on what I want the art for. If I am looking for a cover piece for Neo-opsis magazine, digital art is wonderful. For one think the work is already a computer file, so putting it into the layout and getting it printed is relatively simple. With a hand done painting there is the texture of the paint and the canvas, or paper, to worry about. The work must be photographed or scanned, and often colour corrected. When photographing an acrylic or oil painting, some times you have to use a polarized lens to reduce the glare off the paint, and there again you have to worry about getting the colours correct.

    When looking for art to put on my walls at home, I prefer an original painting, something where you can see and even feel the brushstrokes. I don't want a copy on my wall, because copies seem flatter somehow, and digital art has that copy quality to it.

    On a calendar, on a book, on my computer's desktop, in a movie, even on the walls of a gallery, I see nothing wrong with digital art. I like it, but when it comes to having a painting on my wall I want something that seems more solid.

    I can understand why many people think that digital art is easier to do than painting by hand. When you are painting by hand, and you make a mistake, you can't hit "Undo", whereas with digital art, if you have been saving all the way along, it is easier to go back a few steps and start again. You can remove that mistake with digital art, but being able to hit "Undo" isn't necessarily help. It can mean that the artist works and works on the same piece of art trying to make it perfect, and never quite gets there.

    Digital art can be as difficult as painting by hand, and it often doesn't get the consideration that other media get. Some people consider it cheating, but then some people think that using an airbrush is cheating. There will always be those people who will put down what is new or different, but I hope there will always be new ways to express art. When we stop trying to express ourselves within the inventions of our ingenuity, then we will be a dead people.

  7. #7
    As much as I've come to love digital art, I also would prefer an original piece of artwork on the wall in my house. Can you imagine--an original painting by Michael Whelan hanging in your living room!!!! When I was a kid I saw Jeffrey Jones at a convention. He had his famous Blind Narcissus painting with him. It is absolutely incredible. Anyway, when I started the thread, I was thinking of digital art on book covers instead of paintings.

    I would have preferred that this thread stay in the fiction section. I was trying to find out how much readers of fiction cared about the art that appeared on the covers of their books. I grew up loving both fiction and art.

    The image I posted in the art gallery was created using Poser and Bryce 5. I wish the people who peeked at it would post something here and let me know what they thought of it.

    So, do people care about the art on the cover of a book? Or is it as simple as an artist cares more than someone who is just a reader because a reader is focused solely on the story?

    Can we keep talking about it for a little longer?

  8. #8
    Artist Steph19041961's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by CatJack
    ...Anyway, when I started the thread, I was thinking of digital art on book covers instead of paintings... I was trying to find out how much readers of fiction cared about the art that appeared on the covers of their books... So, do people care about the art on the cover of a book? Or is it as simple as an artist cares more than someone who is just a reader because a reader is focused solely on the story?...
    Okay... the problem here is that I am both an artist and a reader, so maybe you don't want to know what I think.

    Tough... you are stuck with me answering.

    The cover of a book is very important. And even though I'm not supposed to do it... I do judge books by their covers. When I am looking for a new book to read, it is the cover that gets my attention. If it is a dull cover I probably won't buy the book.
    I am giving the wrong impression there...
    I will buy a book with a cover that I find unappealing if I know the writer is a good one, but if I don't know, about the writer and it has an unappealing cover, I won't buy it.
    Digital art on the cover of books can be very dynamic, or it can be so much like a painting that you can't even tell the digital from the painting. If I look at an original painting vs. a digital print, I can tell which is which. But look at the cover of a book; the art could have been done in any medium. Most paperbacks are digitally printed, so it doesn't really matter if it was an oil painting, a watercolour, an acrylic, or computer generated art.
    There are some styles of art that are best express as computer art, and there are some stories that go well with those styles.
    Some stories go better with a more traditional look, but computer art can look just as traditional as a painting, when you put it on the cover of a book.

    I guess I am saying that it doesn't matter what the medium is, it's how well it goes with the story.

  9. #9
    Thanks for the responses, folks! I'll always be interested in opinions on this topic, so hopefully we'll get some more feedback before the thread dies off

  10. #10
    fantasy artist murray vincent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    middle england
    Digital art. art of the new world computer generation. as a tool its sheer wizardry, and combined with the use of traditional art techniques its got to be a great thing to mess around with. I find that I dont really know much about computer art as I practice the trad way of painting,but Id love to have a go someday.

  11. #11
    unconditional roach love
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    I don't really see a distinction here. I'm lucky enough to have some very talented artist friends who work in either traditional meida, digital media or both. What I've learned from them is that it's the creative vision that is most important - any means used to realise this vision are valid.

  12. #12
    Both types are good, but my all time favourite piece of art is digital.

  13. #13
    I think digital is very promising but still seems a bit stiff compared to traditional art.

    But I'm no expert and I do like a lot of the digital I've seen, especially in SF art.

  14. #14
    Hlúgiligr! Moderator Kirby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    New Zealand
    I believe there is a certain essence of line that 3D has yet to capture. (without a heckuvalot of work first!)
    (My background is that of an "animator", moved from the traditional pencil realm into the 3D realm, this is the basis from which I speak!)
    Whilst the lighting can be made quite dynamic in 3D modelling, and there is the repeated ability to re-render the image until you are satisfied with it, sometimes I think the flow of lines goes missing.
    (Unless of course, the person setting up the picture goes into the nitty gritty detail of setting up proper musculature/pose, and can get the character mesh to do what he or she wants with minimal difficulty - that is almost impossible, by the way. Computers have their own conspiracy theory at work, I swear !)

    I don't have anything against a good bit of computer generated artwork, but I find that (for me), doing it that way is more of a headache, and much less fun. I think of it as the "many disciplines v's one pencil" thing - where you can render line, light/shading, shape, pattern, texture, hair, cloth, element-disruption etc., all with a single pencil. But to do the same with three dimensional models, you have to learn how to "manage" each of the above disciplines in the computer environment before you can apply them, along with mesh modelling skills (a fun little ballgame in itself!), if you aren't working off a pre-built figure!

    The trade off is how real you can make something look - but then, if old masters could do it with oils, the only advantage that 3D images have today, is the ability for them to be rendered from more than one angle, once you have your scene set up. (much like taking a photograph, once you have established your scene.)

    If you are talking about image manipulation in a programme like photoshop, I regard a lot of what I've seen as the visual equivalent of rap or trance. (samples taken from a photograph, and fiddled with.) Sometimes the result is interesting (like one with a clever use of compositing), sometimes it just looks like every other tweaked (read "distort facial features!") image. IMO.
    Again, it offers the good, the bad and the ugly, but that can be said of art in general, can't it?

    I like to sketch sometimes in Photoshop - the use of "layers" is the biggest advantage that Photoshop has over traditional artwork, I think.

    What I think that digital art work takes away, is the knowledge of how something should look "the first time around". Like, being able to erase mistakes, rather than leaving them there to learn from so that you don't make the same mistake twice. I haven't yet decided if that's a good thing or not.

    Always a good subject for debate, the digital v's the traditional!

    I think I am a traditionalist at heart, though.
    And it is satisfying to have something to hang on your wall at the end of the day.
    ~ Cheers.

  15. #15
    HI all! I regret my extended disappearing act from the discussion but I experienced a fatal sytems crash and had to replace my old computer.

    I am still somewhat attracted to digital art and even though I am an ignoramus on how to operate art programs and such I think the day is coming when digital will convert even us skeptics.

    In fact I wonder how long it will be until digital art is shown in museums if it isn't already.

    And selling for millions of dollars.

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