Sunday, November 25, 2007

To Flash, or not to Flash

I pose this question to all of you, but I guess it's a little more geared towards the artists. Given the choice (in an ideal world, where time is not a factor), would you rather work traditionally or digitally? If that sounds too broad, do you find that you prefer working in Flash (Photoshop, etc), or creating your art by getting your hands dirty? Both Keith and Renee have thought about it on their own blogs. Renee is actively weighing the differences, especially when it comes to time. But I'm talking purely about aesthetic quality and working process.

There are the obvious pros and cons to both approaches. I tend to believe that the biggest advantages to working on a digital canvas (aside from time, again...time is not a factor in an ideal world) are precision and editability (better known as UNDO). But it can be cold and sterile to sit in front of a computer—using key commands and sliders. On a computer, you start with something clean, and then you have to go out of your way to muck it up.

When you work with paint, ink, or any other real world media (what have become known as traditional media), if you make a mistake you either have to start over again or find a way to make it work. You can smell it. It gets on your hands. It's hard to make a color or a line completely precise. What is traditional media best for? I'd say texture, variation, subtlety, and that hard to define hand-made quality. Also, your finished original product actually exists outside of the computer.

The question is a hard one for me. But I try to work in the realm that suits my methodology. And often, that means a little bit of both. I find that I'm better off drawing and inking by hand, but I crave the precision of ones and zeros when I'm coloring. If I had to decide one way or another—meaning, get rid of either the brush or the cursor—I'd still rather create my artwork by hand. The computer is an extremely convenient and powerful tool, but it still can't match the immediacy of physical media.

What does everyone else think? And if people think they truly prefer traditional media, then why do we put up with sitting in front of a computer every day?


Renee Kurilla said...

I am tortured by this decision! you said, mostly because time is of the essence. But I know that mostly, I "practice" drawing on the computer all the time. Practice makes perfect they say. So if I "practiced" physically painting all the time, I might be more content with the outcome and I would figure out more efficient ways of saving blunders in my work. (With the absence of "undo")
But it all goes back to the previous post, "Finding Time for Creativity." I don't have enough...and my poor little eyes can't stay open as long as they used to :) Or maybe it's just that I'm not inspired.

Either way, I'm undecided. I don't see it as a bad thing to have both "mediums" in your life...but if I had to choose. I vote for straight up paint and brush. It's more exploratory and satisfying when all is said and done.

But computers are here to, in the meantime... blah. :)

John L said...

I prefer to draw on paper. The computer has its advantages, but here are some advantages of traditional media:

- You can move the angle of the paper and your hand in any position
- REAL texture, not the simulated kind
- More surprises happen in real life (for better or worse)
- Unlimited resolution, no matter what the media

I also like to see what the final product will look like, so if it's a project destined to be printed, I prefer creating it on paper. (And if I HAVE to do it on the computer, I print it out many times along the way, to see how it will look.)

Ultimately, I prefer drawing on paper because I've been doing that a LOT longer than I've been drawing on a computer. I wonder about kids who start on the computer as a child - will they prefer that over paper?

Bob Flynn said...

Great thoughts! I guess the reason I bring it up is that I'm increasingly noticing that I'm making more of my art directly on the computer. And liking it! When I sit down to ink something by hand, I actually get a little nervous. But I tend to like the inked result better because of the grit of the paper, and the boldness of ink over a vector line.

I wonder at what point digital art will ever be indistinguishable from traditional art. When there is a point that the computer can replicate nearly everything you can do on paper. A pointless quest, to some degree....but you know it's coming. And I also wonder about people who develop a style that is completely reliant on using a computer.