Ink(tober)y Thoughts

  • Last night I was listening to (Will and Tyrus) talk about the apparent drama surrounding Inktober. Give it a watch if you have the time. It's fun and interesting with a lot of little gems in there. Plus their back and forth is great!

    In case you're wondering, the Inktober drama pertains to internet people being internet people and making a big fuss over Inktober being about real ink. That's the light and polite version. Think of every absurd complaint you could imagine and it's probably been said by someone.

    But with the video I linked above, there was a particular concept that Will and Tyrus were talking about which is really sticking. It's the idea that with digital, unless you're being really strict with yourself (like choosing to only paint on a single layer), you're not forced to commit in quite the same way you do with physical mediums. Just that word "commit" is ringing so clearly in my mind. Make a choice. Take an action. Live with the results. Learn from the results. Repeat.

    Over my four-ish years as an artist thus far, about 75-80% of my work has been done digitally. I think at various times in the back of my mind I've thought of it as a shortcut or a necessity even for a modern working artist. But then the better part of me replies back with, "What makes you think digital is a shortcut? And even if it was, why would you want to take it? Who says that it's a necessity?"

    The short of it is that I think I've done myself a disservice with this and I'm feeling a strong urge to step back from digital for a time....maybe a very long time. I don't think I'm romanticizing things when I say that my digital work feels less satisfying and like less of an accomplishment than my more poorly executed traditional pieces. When I have worked physically I've often thought of it as training for digital rather than an end in itself.

    I don't want to make this too bloggy, so what do you think? Do you feel like you lack the ability to "commit" in your art? Has it limited you in any way? Is traditional art a solution to you or not something you give too much thought to? And lastly, do you feel more accomplished with your physical pieces or is it all the same to you?

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @jazeps-tenis for me the past 3 or so years have been 90% digital art. I do like to mess with some traditional mediums but that is what it is a medium and digital is just another medium. I prefer digital now based on cost of supplies. Yes there are tricks/cheats in digital, but like I said its another medium.

    I did inktober two years ago (last i was on a project and didn't have time) and it was all done with real ink on real paper. It was real fun lol but this year I will be doing it digital. I don't care what the haters will say, but i am going to use the prompts to come up with 31 characters giving myself an hour a day to do it. That will be my goal for the month.

  • @chip-valecek I think that's a great goal! I'm going all in on traditional inking for Inktober this year, but I think anything that has people getting more mileage in their art is a great thing regardless of medium.

  • For me, everything is so easy to tweak with digital tools: you can click and drag, undo, adjust colors, etc. But what I discovered is that I was using all of these tools without really understanding the basics of shape, color, or composition. My "bad habit" was that I dove into fine-tuning and adjusting way too quickly.
    Traditional art is harder to "tweak." You can either add marks or erase them, that's it. Learning to work with those limitations means being more thoughtful and deliberate with your mark-making.
    I took a step back from digital for almost a year, and focused on pencil and ink (with occassional markers.) Now that I'm using digital more regularly again, I feel a lot more confident and in-control.
    I think digital tools definitely offer a shortcut. But shortcuts only work if you know where you want to go, so to speak.

  • @jazeps-tenis This is a neat thought piece. It's always good to stop and think about why your doing things and analyze. I haven't found commitment problems exactly, but that I have a hard time getting those wonderful 'happy accidents' that happen with physical art making. It's like years of working digitally has stiffened my style. So, I've started trying to start traditional and polish digitally to keep the messy fun that happens along the way. Right now I get a little thrill with the physical pieces, but I think it's because I'm doing something new rather than that its better to me.

  • for me I work in both. Digital is faster BUT its true that it doesn't lock you into a process, and process means ultimately repeatable.
    It is another medium. And it doesn't make you a better or worse artist. In fact it takes a whole extra level of explanation when i talk to people about tradigital and the use of a tablet.
    But the undo button is tempting (i use layers as i do my light box and redraw half the time). For me using digital my objective is to get the looseness and explore the accidents that I get from using real stuff. Watercolour still is the elusive elixir of the digital world. You can make it look like it, but it won't misbehave in the same way! And until kyles brushes, i could never get a reasonable pencil.
    For inktober I was going to get clever and as I am also a print artist was going to do a load of lino cuts. Then i thought nah...lets record the vids and brush work and get back to what I used to do years ago. So I don't even use a bush pen. I use a regular brush and drawing ink.

  • Pro SVS OG

    I used to be an oil painter before going fully digital 3 years ago. Oil has layers. With glazes and a proper use of medium you can do adjustment layers too. You can "undo" indefinitely, paint over mistakes, wipe out entire sections and start again. You can even dab a rag in turpentine and erase back to the canvas. When I worked traditionally, I used layers and layers of vellum and/or a lightbox to plan complex drawings. No different than digital layers, just more work...
    For me digital is just another medium. Less stinky and space-intensive and way, way faster. I lock myself in processes when I work digitally and I document them carefully to ensure consistency. Digital can mimick traditional media as well as oil can mimick watercolor or watercolor mimic gouache - namely it can look like it without being the same thing. You can develop your own style with digital media just as much as you can with any other medium - just take a look at Marco Bucci's or Szymon Biernacki's work.
    No medium is intrinsically better than any other , it depends on your preferences and what kind of final look you want. And, ultimately, if you want to have an original physical painting or not. You can mix traditional and digital, work in either depending on the project or alternate periods or just stick to one - like artists in the past sticked to oil or to pastel or to watercolor....or didn't.
    It is not a life choice or a philosophy - and there has never been a medium that guarantees to do good art, no matter what features it offers...

  • SVS OG

    @jazeps-tenis Well, I am traditional and just learning to use digital. I hope to contnue with traditional but I am also looking forward to being able to clean up and fix things I do traditionally. I have been working for a couple of years on a project and have had to redraw so many times. If I could just click and slide something over a bit or reduce the image slightly, etc. digitally it is very appealing to me! I think I look forward to a mix of the two. Maybe I will eventually do more digitally but at this point I like the idea of using both.

    I like the "human" look I get by doing things traditionally but digital art is definitely an at form in itself and makes life easier if you have a ton of projects you need to get done on deadlines. I don't work deadlines so, I am okay as I am but I look forward to learning more digitally because it's just another way to be artistically creative. I don't know if ti will be that much faster for me in the long run because I have so much to learn but as for cleaning up my art....I am all for it.

  • @missmarck I'm really similar with respect to these things. I think when I've worked digitally I've been pretty careless and not engaged enough with what I was doing, but I'm noticing that my focus is much higher working with ink. It kind of has to be. I'm forced to take each step in order as opposed to jumping in too early like I often do in digital. I suppose it's just the case that unless you've developed good habits by another means, digital doesn't enforce it on you in the same way traditional does.
    You can start working on your colors and then decide you want to go back to sketching. I'm sure that works great for some artists, but not so much for me.

    And also, because I have to let the ink dry (I'm using a dip pen), I step away from the work much more frequently and look at it with fresh eyes whereas with digital I could spend 3-4 hours or more easily without stepping away at all.

  • @sara-glennon That's an interesting thought. I've started dabbling with more watercolor recently and there's a lot of room for happy accidents there. I kind of like that you're not absolutely in control and that not everything is in some manner of speaking mathematically determined or some kind of simulation of another thing.

  • @andy-gray I think if I were doing client work I'd definitely lean towards digital because like you mentioned, it's a lot faster. For personal projects though, I'm increasingly inclined towards physical. I love digital for concept work and the like, and possibly for some coloring, but I think there's a philosophical dimension to this for me where the accumulation of abstractions from reality just gets to be too much. And I'm speaking more broadly than just art here. I just find myself wanting things more grounded in human imperfection.

  • @smceccarelli When you talk about mediums being "better" doesn't that somewhat depend on your objectives? I'm not talking about the most exemplary results achieved by any given medium, I'm talking about the personal artistic journey of the individual artist. Meaning of course that there's going to be variation.

    You may operate the same with digital as you do physical for instance, but I struggle to do that. The work that I do traditionally reinforces for me habits which digital has not inclined me towards. I wonder if your background as an oil painter helped develop those habits in you in a way that might have been otherwise if your progression had taken a different path. Is that an unreasonable observation?

  • @marsha-kay-ottum-owen That makes a lot of sense. I'm with you that I really like the "human" look. I look at Miyazaki's watercolors for example and it's difficult finding a digital equivalent that strikes me in quite the same way. Like I mentioned in another post though, if I was doing client work, I'd lean heavily towards digital too.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @jazeps-tenis At the art school I attended (AAU in SF) they insisted on working traditionally for at least 6 semester before allowing you to touch digital tools. Even later, I had teachers who only allowed you to work digitally if you demonstrated that you could work traditionally - so they would allow digital on a case-by-case basis and only after the first 6-8 assignments. So you may have a point there. Yet, there are digital artists who have never worked traditionally and make fantastic work nonetheless - so I would not say that it is absolutely necessary.
    As for “better”, I do not think you can compare mediums in any way based on these terms. I meet many artists who thing they “have to” move to digital. That is like saying that you “have to” do watercolor - it does not make any sense. If you like working traditionally and you feel more growth and accomplishment in that, there is no pressure whatsoever to do otherwise. The only element I have to say is a real pain in the neck with traditional work is the digitalization step (that is by today standards unavoidable if you work for clients). Probably 50% of the reason I moved to digital is to get out of the pain of scanning, photographic or otherwise digitalizing analog work - it is a constant struggle. Thinking of having to do that and have a sharp deadline for delivery in my back is reason enough to kill all impulse to go back to traditional media....

  • @smceccarelli That does make a lot of sense. I've never done paid work, so I don't know anything about the practicalities or digitizing and dealing with tight deadlines and what not. I'm not sure that I'd want to deal with that either.

    At any rate, I've been working exclusively traditional for all of Inktober so far and for me at least, it seems to be helping. I'm definitely more focused on my work which I know is more a function of personal discipline rather than anything inherent in the medium, but it seems to be just what I needed at this point in my development as an artist.

  • I’ve just realised I’ve reached an interesting point. I need a new computer and monitor. New computer is has to crunch big numbers. Sometimes I’m designing and the other day I actually got lag...couldn’t believe it. And for refs I’m starting to create and use 3D much more. But I was also deciding new graphics tablet and colour accurate monitor. All software has moved to viewing best widescreen, so my current monitor Wacom pairing is getting tricky. So I kinda decided to go for the cintiq. But recent commissions are solidly in the real world and there’s no way of going digital (coloured pencil.....and you thought watercolour was hard to match!). So trying to decide if the extra £750 on a cintiq rather than tablet and monitor combo is worth it for me...

  • @andyg Yeah, digital can be pretty pricey to keep up with. Even if the hardware lasts beyond the usual 5-7 years, the software moves on. I started with a 13" inch Cintiq but I never liked it very much on account of a weird aspect ratio and parallax mainly. I sold it to get an iPad Pro 12.9". Procreate keeps getting better with each update and I prefer it to Photoshop because of the more intuitive interface, but I'm not a working artist either.

    If you're considering one of the larger Cintiqs though, you might want to hold off just a bit if you can. They announced the new 4K ones in August or September and I think they're going to be available early next year.

  • @jazeps-tenis full size cintiqs are hella expensive and even as a working artist its hard to justify. i had one for several years and then sold it in favour of a surface which i have loved ever since. im not saying cintiqs arent good just very pricey when there are comparable hardware options for less.

    would i ever consider getting one again? sure. the 4k option is kinda cool but seems kinda fad like haha

  • Yeah, they definitely are! Even if I could afford one, I'm not sure if I'd go for it. Then again, I'm all about the traditional art lately, so I need a nice scanner more than I need a big Cintiq. At least those are only hundreds instead of thousands.

    The Surface looks great. I'd definitely consider that in the future, but it depends on what I'm doing.

Log in to reply