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Why Should An Illustrator Artist Go Digital?

Why Should An Illustrator Artist Go Digital?

My experience as an illustrator with watercolor techniques for fashion illustration, advertising, and publishing. How I dealt with the transition from “traditional to digital”. How I work and what tools I use. How I brought a decades-long experience made of real colors, brushes, and thinners to the world of graphic tablets and Photoshop tools only with the help of some very special plugins that I will talk about in detail, and a great desire to test myself and broaden my artistic horizons.

It will therefore be a workshop on “Digital painting”, but strictly aimed at watercolor with a focus on the typical techniques of traditional watercolor.

An engaging experience both for traditionalists who still fear the big step and for digital natives who do not know the brush and its background.

First of all, a fundamental premise: I have not “left” the traditional for digital, nor will I ever. No illustrator or artist would do that. The evolution of new technologies in the artistic field (programs and machines) has precisely this as its goal: to enter more and more into the work of a creative as a tool and not as an end. The most intuitive and “light” way possible with which you can use either real or virtual to produce your projects with greater strength and speed. The moral is that both experiences are indispensable – for me – to date.

For my part, I would have dozens of good reasons to recommend it but, in summary, I give you the fundamental answers:

For greater fidelity of the result

… And of course also for the increased speed. Let me explain better with an example. I began to think seriously about switching to digital watercolor after, for one of my most important clients, the times of the making process> presentation> correction> photography> shipping of each table had become much longer than the hours I could devote to sleep. Not to mention that watercolor in particular, but every painted board in general, unless you have a photographic set equipped with an optical bank, becomes the most complex subject to reproduce if you are looking for fidelity in colors. Other than phone!

For the management of errors

I have been a bitter enemy of the eraser since school (I take it away from my sketching students in the second week) and I support the importance of “error management” in the traditional way … But the “control -z” as I call it, is undoubtedly a resource almost as the mobile phone has become for a freelance. the possibility of going back in time using brushes is now indispensable and not only for those who sketch! It risks becoming pathological if abused, this is true, but it allows you to find “that” much sought-after sign without throwing away all the work done up to that point.

To keep the original (overcoming the concept of ownership of the original, copyright)

For years, the former, I sold wonderful tables to agents, art directors or early merchants without having kept a few faded photographs. I was wrong. I had to give them a color photo and keep the original. And also to demand an account of the commercial uses of that work. I still did not know the word “rights” those that you give to the customer only for a certain time or space of your image. But the original is inalienable and remains yours, a law shared throughout the world recognizes it. With digital, the problem is detached, solved at the root: you can distribute anywhere and to anyone in the world the perfect image of each of your works, but protected (there are thousands of safe-grisailles). With digital – if you don’t mind – you keep the original. Always.

Who is Kyle and what do his brushes do?

In the time of hands, machines are worthwhile in that of machines, hands are more valuable, someone said; but the digital bet – in years of “robots” – was precisely that of getting closer and closer to the gesture, the sign, the fluidity typical of man/hand. Including imperfections. Because nothing is more human and therefore aesthetic than imperfection. Every artist knows this. For this reason, an American mathematician-illustrator (qualification of my invention completely arbitrary end) like Kyle Webster, a native-traditional book illustrator, combines technology with tradition and starts studying to produce “tools”, aka digital brushes, for Photoshop that almost perfectly imitate real brush strokes.

From oil to acrylic, from graphite to watercolor, there are no tool packages of this enterprising American that is not invented offering artists a surprisingly realistic range of techniques and effects. Kyle markets and sells them directly online, as a good entrepreneur. I must say that after having experienced them all, with relatively little memory expenditure, some of them are completely innovative and revolutionary. For example, the “amazing brushes”, the deliberately imperfect brushes of the Real Watercolor package that use progressive pressure to obtain the “washed out” effect, typical of traditional watercolor. Or the Big-wash-brushes useful for creating the “ponds” of color typical of the wet-on-wet technique. Kyle also offers support with a help-desk for the first approaches to his tools (in English) and I hope to have him as a guest at my Workshop!

The three most important words that are said to applicants who present their portfolio at the interview with DreamWorks are “Working, working & working”

What skills does it require to approach digital?

In the words of Paul Lasaine (Concept artist for DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar, teacher at “Schools” as well as talented traditional figurative artist) just yesterday he reminded me that the three most important words that are required of young people who present their portfolio at DreamWorks are “Working, working & working “. So saying he established the importance of the primacy of work as the most important viaticum for every aspirant to the world of digital visual arts. This is just to chase away – where it still exists – an old cliché that camped “facilitation” of some kind for anyone who chooses the graphic tablet to the table and brushes. Nothing could be more wrong, of course, talent must be built day by day on paper, cardboard, tablet, or monitor. No shortcuts. Patient work counts and only true passion pays off in the end.

In times of instant gratification offered in the Facebook and smartphone society, I remain firmly convinced of the first principle of the Ninja warriors: to practice many years of drawing the bow, before shooting the first arrow.


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