It just ain’t real

You can look at it, make unlimited copies, share with the world and perhaps even the universe. Oh sure the things you can do are probably endless, but you can’t touch it. 

Being that this is a website about a so called artist (me) then it should be obvious what you can’t touch. If your mind is in the gutter and thinking of something else, well, that’s something you have to deal with.

What can’t you touch, that something is “digital art”? Yes, of course if I was to print it out then I could touch it, but it’s still nothing more than a reproduction made by a machine. 

What I wish to talk about this week (should you care) is my experience with digital drawing versus real world drawing. Naturally we could spend an entire lifetime defining what is “real” — but not now. 

As you may know, if you follow my postings, I have been doing daily drawings for over 500 days. All of those drawings are on high quality paper. The majority of them are drawn using artists fine tip felt pens. This meant no chance to erase mistakes. Some are good and some not so good. 

After 500 drawings in a row I decided it was time to change things up. As of about a week ago I now create all my dailies (@dailyminus134) digitally. The tool I’m using currently is Procreate on the iPad (version 6).

Yikes, talk about a learning curve, its not like this is my first time drawing digitally, but it’s the first time I have actually been serious about becoming proficient with the tool. 

I have been “toying” with digital drawing software/tools for 30 years but it just never felt right. I intend to change that feeling. If all goes well I hope to complete at least 100 digital dailies in a row.


Some thoughts on what it feels like to draw digitally

Rather than attempting to write a review or even write something coherent I shall simply jot down some pros and cons. As I have claimed more than once I ain’t no writer (and I’m lazy). 

Some pros:

  • the undo button
  • eraser tool
  • layers
  • a bazillion different brushes and effects that probably cannot be replicated in the real world (at least not so quickly and easily)
  • colour/paint tools
  • any size your computer is capable of handling
  • unlimited copies and versions
  • pens, brushes, or colour that never runs out or wears out
  • no cleanup (just walk away and go watch YouTube)
  • and more as discussed by others for the last 30 plus years

Some cons (as it relates to me):

  • the brush, pen or pencil marks may look like the real thing but they don’t feel like the real thing 
  • feels like I’m using an air brush regardless of the tool I choose 
  • most so called brushes don’t resemble any brush I have ever used in the real world
  • can’t feel the texture of the paper (yeah I know there are things you can get to simulate resistance but it’s still too “perfect”)
  • undo button and eraser (potential to make me lazy)
  • layers (same as above)
  • tools never wear out or run out of ink or colour (a worn out pen nib or brush on rough paper can be very useful) 
  • no oopses like smudged ink to send you on a quest to make it look intentional 
  • sucks the life out of the iPad battery (best to have a charger and power outlet nearby)

In conclusion

Do the pros and cons really matter — nah! 

Art is Art, use whatever tools you have and say and make what you want. At the moment digital tools are exciting for me — because I suck at it.

I will get better, I hope, no, I will!


Digital examples

Anyway, I may as well show you a few of my creations from this week. My goal at this point is learn technique and not be concerned with content. Hmm, that could be a goal for the rest of my life.

For now the following images are attempts at recreating the look of drawings in the real world.

Attempt at recreating a pencil-like drawing — digitally
Digital ink-like drawing — so easy to throw in a dash of colour
Digital pen and pencil. I discovered the “smudge” tool — I shall now exploit it (hopefully it doesn’t become a crutch)
Another digital attempt at graphite and continued exploration of the “smudge” tool

Some days digital feels like the way to go, and then the next day, I just want to go back to paper, pen and pencil.


Have a great week and below is the header image for those that read this post via email.

collage of four iPad renders

One comment

  1. I like to think of my adaptation to digital drawing as learning use a new medium. Acrylic paint, for example, can be used to emulate water colors or oil paint but it will never be the same as the originals. Finding the right tablet, stylus and surface texture have been the key factors. Now that I have all that, I’m quite comfortable adapting to this digital platform for drawing and animation. Heck, I never imagined I’d be animating while reclining on my couch, outside on our patio, or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office! One of Procreate’s features that I like a lot is the support for the Photoshop file format which allows me to make good use of my proficiency in one application over the other.

    Liked by 1 person

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