How to Use Digital Media to Improve your Traditional Art

Digital painting
Time Lapse Video of Digital Wave Painting, Created in Procreate.

It all started innocently enough, I needed to create a painting for my band’s CD album cover and design the CD case layout. For the painting, I needed to have a river with an owl and a bear. In order to paint the owl and bear I had to learn how to draw them. I turned, as one does these days, to YouTube to find tutorials. Once I created the painting, I had to digitize everything so the company could produce our CD’s. That was where I fell down the rabbit hole!

I ultimately ended up having to upgrade my aging computer and subscribe to Photoshop CC. Since I now had the software and tools necessary to create digital art, along with a small and equally old digital drawing tablet, it only made since to play around with it. Right?

The above time lapse video is of the creation of the wave painting that is the banner for my website. I used traditional drawing and painting techniques developed from hours of plein air painting on the beach, with digital media to create it.

In other words, I painted this “tradigitally”. I did not start with a photo but started with a digital pencil on a blank digital canvas. It is the identical process!

So, how can painting tradigitally improve your traditional work? I was surprised how freeing I found working digitally once I got over the learning curve, although I still have a lot to learn. Painting and drawing digitally makes experimenting very easy. Don’t like the paint stroke or line you made? Just hit the undo button and try again. No wiping off, no mess, no wasting paint.

There is a vast color range, which could be daunting but works well when you think in terms of your favorite color system. It is easy to push, pull, and be daring with colors. Having a time lapse video also gives you a bit of insight into your painting and drawing process.

There are more advantages I could list but, by using digital media as I have described above, I have found my traditional work in oil paint and drawing media improving. I am more willing to try an experiment in paint when I have already tried it digitally. Traditional media also informs my digital work. It is a good challenge to try to match a technique or color I have used in oil paint in a digital painting. It makes me stop and analyze what I am doing.

Not everyone has the desire or the equipment needed to draw and paint digitally but, I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to try it out. A warning though, you might just find yourself hooked like me and adding digital media to your tool kit!

Have you tried using digital media with traditional painting techniques? I would love to read any comments or questions you have on using digital media this way. Please feel free to leave a comment!


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