Digital painting

Digital painting is a method of creating an art object in a computer. Digital painting use of an interface that connects the artist to a hardware and software platform, works that present a painted surface, not exclusively based on lines of design and not generically colored Digital painting adapts traditional painting media to a digital version. It adapts traditional painting medium such as acrylic paint, oils, ink, watercolor, etc. and applies the pigment to traditional carriers, such as canvas, paper, polyester etc. by means of computer software driving printers.

Commonly incorporated into digital art or visual art, digital painting uses technological tools that simulate the stroke of the real brush. The numerous software created specifically for this purpose now possess a vast library of brushes, traits and techniques of all kinds: from tempera, to oil, to watercolor, to airbrushing and so on. Even the color palettes have a very wide range, and almost endless choices. There remains the age-old problem of printing, where it is believed to want or have to print their own works. The quality of printing, even if it has reached very high levels, remains in many points a difficult choice and operation, as well as those who try to reproduce the traditional works in the catalog.

Digital painting commonly called computer graphics, however, term of a generic nature that indicates all the computer graphics techniques, including photo editing, technical and artistic 3D graphics, technical drawing.

Visual characteristics derive from the power of a computer to attach geometrical formulas to lines, shapes and forms. While it is impossible for a human hand to create exactly identical shapes, or to construct a perfect circle or a perfectly straight line, for a computer it is difficult to do anything else. Formula-based forms are easy to recognize by a degree of perfection that is literally inhuman. Other specific traits are: transparency, symmetry, regular distortion, exact repetition, perfect circles, squares and other shapes, embossing and other 3D illusion, very smooth gradients, and perfectly monochrome color planes. The sharp and bold appearance of formula-based ‘vector’ forms reminds one of paper cutouts and stencil art. Alone or in combination with stroke-by-stroke ‘raster’ painting, it creates a language of color and form that is entirely new and could in no way be expressed with ‘real’ paints and brushes.

In digital painting the final object is a bitmap, that is an image represented by a set of points, called pixels, whose greater or lesser quantity generates the greater or lesser resolution of the image. It differs from vector graphics because the points are “static” and are not produced by a dynamic mathematical equation. For this a bitmap image can not be resized without loss of quality.

A further characteristic is the total flatness of the physical representation, due to the technical impossibility of translating brushstrokes to surface texture. Although many art lovers still prefer the artisanal appearance of real paint on canvas, a digital artwork has a look of straightforwardness and clearness that gradually becomes more accepted, in particular on mediums that support rather than conceal these qualities, such as fine art paper, brushed aluminum, xpozer, perspex, etc.

Based on differences in method and appearance, four directions can be distinguished:

Computer generated painting
‘Computer generated’ refers to an indirect procedure that goes back to the early days of artificial intelligence and programming. The artist doesn’t create the artwork by hand but instructs the computer how to do it – like a composer creating music, not by playing it on an instrument but by writing music notes on a score. The earliest of such prescriptions were given in programming language. Every form or line was manually described by a mathematical formula. This offered the artist a lot of freedom, but intricate forms were difficult to program.
Since the 1970s, the code mode has evolved into a design mode. Paining programs allow the artists to visually select a set of parameters. The mathematical formulas and calculations needed to construct the forms are taken care of ‘behind the screen’, evaluated by the artist and changed if desired. Programs for fractal art for instance, assist the artist in creating visually complex structures of great mathematical regularity.

Raster painting
Both in procedure and in appearance, a raster, grid, or bitmap painting most closely resembles a traditional painting with real brushes and paint. The image is created on the screen with a virtual brush in a spontaneous, stroke by stroke manner. Colors and lines are registered pixel by pixel. They are not summarized and translated into formula’s. As a result, forms and lines preserve all the characteristics of the individual painter’s hand. A main disadvantage is that the image resolution is fixed. Often, the length and width of the creation is as small as a (mobile) computer screen and the resolution as low as the standard of 72 dots per inch on the web. If a raster image is to be transferred to a physical carrier of a customary size, it has to be enlarged considerably. Enlargement entails manual correction, a process that is complicated by the size of the file which grows with enlargement and becomes difficult to handle.

Vector painting
A vector painting is based on vector graphics. It is made by choosing basic shapes like circles, triangles and squares, or by painting them freehand, and manipulating and transforming them with special tools. The somewhat elaborate process is less suitable for intuitive, spontaneous work than raster painting. All lines and shapes are captured into geometrical formulas, with no room left for characteristics of the individual painter’s hand. The advantage to the artist is that files are small and can be enlarged to any size that the printer can handle without loss of sharpness. The resolution is always the maximum printable. Formalized shapes and forms obey to all kinds of one-click operations such as change color, make transparent, emboss, flip, group, cast shadow, etc. The mahematical basis for smoothing and manipulating lines and forms are Bezier curves, named after a French engineer who in 1962 developed a practical application of the Bernstein polynomial to improve the design of automobile bodies at Renault.

Vector-raster painting, smoothing
Vector-raster painting combines the individual characteristics of raster with formula-based lines and forms of vector. Full control and a visual contrast between vector and raster forms is obtained by working on separate layers or in separate programs for vector and raster, respectively. The raster elements loose sharpness when enlarged, which necessitates manual correction.
Some painting programs (e.g. ArtRage) use Bezier curves ‘behind the screen’ to smooth all lines and curves without intervention of the artist. The painting procedure is spontaneous, stroke by stroke, and the output is a fixed resolution raster file. The smooth, non-raster, non-vector appearance of the painting reflects the hybrid basis. An advantage for the painter is that smoothing reduces the loss of resolution when the image is enlarged.

The main difference between digital painting and traditional painting is the non-linear creative process. An artist can paint on multiple layers (like traditional cartoon techniques), which can be edited independently. In addition, the ability to undo and redo the painting frees the artist from the constraints of a linear process and as in traditional Western painting techniques, allows repentance.

Digital painting is limited by the way it uses traditional painting techniques because of the lack of physical support; because of the reduced gamut of the screens, it does not make it possible to produce certain colors available in nature, nor does it make it possible to use reflective, diffractive or fluorescent materials. On the other hand, it is easier nowadays, with the low cost of the memory, and the tools of management of large images on disc, to work on large formats and the possibility to correct more easily and quickly with both a large accuracy and simultaneously a large area. The possibilities of viewing or printing are unfortunately still very limited both by their quality and by their definitions (large formats have a very low resolution).

All digital painting programs, with the exception of programs for vector painting, try to mimic the use of physical media through various brushes and paint effects. Included in many programs are brushes that are digitally styled to represent the traditional oils, acrylics, pastels, charcoal, pen and media such as airbrush. There are also certain effects unique to each type of digital paint which portray the realistic effects of, for instance, watercolor. In most digital painting programs, the users can create their own brush style using a combination of texture and shape. Digital techniques are widely used in conceptual design for film, television and video games. Painting software such as Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop, ArtRage, GIMP, Krita, MyBrushes and openCanvas give artists a similar environment to a physical painter: a canvas, painting tools, mixing palettes, and a multitude of color options.

There are erasers, pencils, brushes, combs and a variety of original tools to make paintings in two or three dimensions. The graphic tablet allows the artist to work with relatively precise movements of the hand and transmit according to different models, pressure, inclination, speed, etc.

There are many digital painting software like Corel Painter, Artrage, MyPaint, Open Canvas and others less specialized that are quite suitable for this task Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro, GIMP or Krita, which give artists a close environment from that of a classic painter: a canvas, many painting tools, mixing palettes and a multitude of color and material options.

Entertainment industry:
Digital painting is used in the entertainment industry, film, television and video games (matte painting), magazines specializing in fantasy.

Digital painting is widely used among illustrators and designers. B. Picture worlds of computer games and painted scenes for movies. Here the speed of operation, the correctability of each step and the copiability of the images are estimated. The processing of digital files allows the direct creation of printable versions of the graphic work. An important representative of this genre is the American Craig Mullins, who was one of the first graphic designers in 1994 to create a commercial production exclusively digitally.

Digital painting is integrated for its procedural, computer-assisted generation techniques to create complex static or temporal patterns in video installations. The artist then has different tasks, the aesthetics of the final work but also the procedure that can be used to express in a more complex way the conceptual idea of the work. Pure Data or Processing tools are two free software very popular in this field.

Digital painting, like traditional painting and drawing techniques, is a technique that only becomes a means of producing art in the artistic process. The possibilities of digital painting are used today by many artists in addition to other image processing methods. The term “digital painting” does not appear in the art market, instead, information on the technology of the output medium is commonly used, including digital print, giclee print, pigment print or digital C-print.

Artistically, working with the painting and drawing programs is less about imitating traditional painting techniques than about using the special possibilities of these programs. Julian Opie, for example, introduced in his reduced personal representations the moment of movement that can be represented on flat screens as an animation. Starting in about 2002, the artist duo Bittermann & Duka will use computer-generated painting as part of a larger artistic concept. Some works can be seen directly on the website of one of their artistic projects, others are only one step towards a materialization that is also plastically realized, for example. In the garden project Hentzelpark in Rolandswerth. Today, the majority of artists who originally worked as photographers also use the means of digital image production.

Popular Art
Were until the 1980s coloring pages, z. As painting by numbers, among artistic lay people a popular introduction to a visual design, this target group is now courted by software manufacturers such as Corel with slogans such as “from photos become paintings”. Computers are now part of the basic equipment of a household and accordingly there is now a large sales market for the painting and drawing programs. In addition to the technical advantages of the digital design process (see below), which are of particular importance for the layman, the direct possibility of publishing digital files over the Internet is an important aspect for many users. While a public presentation of his painting results used to be a major problem for the ambitious layman, a large number of websites are currently available to users of digital painting techniques, most of whom publish the digital paintings over the Internet at a cost. A second way, which is becoming increasingly important, is the publication of a website. A sifting through of these sites, which usually lead to “art” or “art” as part of the name, reveals recognizable stylistic emphases in this emerging sector of popular art. Particularly popular in this sector of digital painting are Impressionism and Surrealism imitation images and any kind of fantasy art.

In performances or live shows, we can use patches or sketches used to project on screens or buildings images modified by performing artists, all of which can be embellished with music. The images broadcast can then be influenced by the music by interpretation algorithms.

It is possible to exhibit digital works in different forms:

Printing (photo printing, digital printing, chromogenic printing (c-print).
Video installations of all kinds
Broadcast via the internet, either via hosting on the artists’ site or via video broadcasting platforms (YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo …)
Sites like Café salé in France are specialized in the diffusion of static works of digital painting. Others, like Deviant Art in the United States and Poobbs in China, bring together different forms of digital art, much of which concerns digital painting.
Prominent artists such as David Hockney exhibit digital painting works on tablet computers where they have been painted (iPad and iPhone).


The earliest graphical manipulation program was called Sketchpad. Created in 1963 by Ivan Sutherland, a grad student at MIT, Sketchpad allowed the user to manipulate objects on a CRT (cathode ray tube). Sketchpad eventually led to the creation of the Rand Tablet for work on the GRAIL project in 1968, and the very first tablet was created.

The idea of using a graphics tablet to communicate directions to a computer emerged in 1968 when the RAND (Research and Development) company developed the RAND tablet that was used to program. The early ‘digitizers’, as they were called, were popularized in the mid 1970s and early 1980s by the commercial success of the ID (Intelligent Digitizer) and BitPad, manufactured by the Summagraphics Corp. They were used as the input device for many high-end CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems as well as bundled with PC’s and PC based CAD software like AutoCAD.

The first commercial program that allowed users to design, draw, and manipulate objects was the MacPaint program. This program’s first version was introduced on January 22, 1984 on the Apple Lisa. The ability to freehand draw and create graphics with this program made it the top program of its kind during 1984. The earlier versions of the program were called MacSketch and LisaSketch, and the last version of MacPaint was MacPaint 2.0 released in 1998.

Another early image manipulation program was Adobe Photoshop. It was first called Display and was created in 1987 by Thomas Knoll at the University of Michigan as monochrome picture display program. With help from his brother John, the program was turned into an image editing program called Imagepro, but later changed to Photoshop. The Knolls agreed on a deal with Adobe systems and Apple, and Photoshop 1.0 was released in 1991 for Macintosh. Adobe systems had previously released Adobe Illustrator 1.0 in 1986 on the Apple Macintosh. These two programs, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are currently two of the top programs used in the productions of digital paintings. Illustrator introduced the uses of Bezier curves which allowed the user to be unprecedently detailed in their vector drawings. A recent development is Adobe Eazel, that allows fingerpainting in watercolor directly on the screen of an iPad, and export in a higher resolution to the larger working space of Photoshop CS5 on the pc.

Kid Pix
In 1988, Craig Hickman created a paint program called Kid Pix, which made it easier for children to use MacPaint. The program was originally created in black in white, and after several revisions was released in color in 1991. Kid Pix was one of the first commercial programs to integrate color and sound in a creative format. While the Kid Pix was intentionally created for children, it became a useful tool for introducing adults to the computer as well.

Web-based painting programs
In recent years there has been a growth in the websites which support painting digitally online. Internet resources for this include Sumo Paint, Queeky and Slimber. The user is still drawing digitally with the use of software: often the software is on the server of the website which is being used. However, with the emergence of HTML5, some programs now partly use the client’s web browser to handle some of the processing. The range of tools and brushes can be more limited than free standing software. Speed of response, quality of colour and the ability to save to a file or print are similar in either media.

Essential qualities, such as technique, resolution and color, can be evaluated online from a 1:1 detail of the artwork. For this to be effective, it is necessary that the screen of the collector is adjusted to color response by way of color calibration. In addition, many collectors would like to distinguish what comes out of the app from what comes out of the artist. The emergence of a wide array of painting apps makes this an area of sound expertise. Many styles and seemingly impressive technical skills are an attribute of the software. It is considered good practice to mention the software used in the description of the artwork.

The market for digital art is slowly maturing. Collectors start to realize that digital painting is a new visual language with characteristics that could not be realized with traditional means. The first online auction, by the UK auction house Phillips in cooperation with Padle8, took place in 2013. Many technical problems have been solved. Color representation has become fairly reliable, thanks to the use of the ICC color profile and calibration. The risk of duplication can never be excluded, but with standard precautions is now acceptably small. There are several large online galleries where both originals and prints of digital paintings are shipped worldwide with good sales conditions.