Thursday, April 08, 2010

Episode 60--Mind walks and digital talks.

This week the Ninjas of the Euro Zone enjoy intellectual discussion of the freelancing life and the associated  psychological landscape while the North American contingent discuss the leap from traditional to digital tools and back.

We hope you enjoy episode 60!

Because Jeremy sometimes has to explain his obscure humor...

Be sure to tune in for Episode 61 next week where Patrick will share his WonderCon recording!
Not to be missed!


Boris Kourtoukov said...

Great episode! :D

Florian Stitz said...

Thanks guys (and gal) for this great episode again!
It's great to hear others tell the reasons why I wanted to be a freelance illustrator! Confirms me in my choices. Thanks for that!
Jeremy what you said about traditional painting showed why I want to try out acrylics I'm painting digitally like I would with traditional media. So I'm definitely go on with my acrylics and try to improve there.
Btw it's strange to read your answer on facebook while listening to you here, Drew. :D

Oh and here's a little hug for Socar, as Jeremy has done so many jokes on your cost. :)

Thanks for another funny and interesting hour to you all!

Gordon Napier said...

Well done on getting an airship- Ninjas With Altitude! Some interesting topics discussed. Another advantage of digital art is not getting paint all over your clothes and everywhere. I do a bit of both and even my computer is covered in oil paint. I love the look of oil paintings, the textures, vibrancy and lustre achievable. I find both acrylic and digital paintings can look a bit plasticky.

Rick Hansen said...

I really enjoyed this episode, not just for the content but the way it was split in two groups. The editing was done brilliantly, makes for easier listening. Please consider doing this format in future episodes.

Yep, just love them bagpipes :D

Razwit (Preston Stone) said...

i just wanted to thank you guys for this episode. The subject of switching from traditional to digital or the other way around is the most relevant to me personally, and it's nice to hear all your thoughts on it.

I wanted also, to add a few thoughts to the episode.
First, on the subject of improving at digital painting if you're switching to it. It has helped me tremendously to relate tools in photoshop to real world tools. Just recently, I realized what should have been obvious to me, that the selection tool actually was the equivalent of masking your painting in real life (except it takes a few seconds and not several minutes). I felt like a moron for not thinking about it in that way before. With every tool in photoshop that I relate to a real world technique, I get noticeably better with my digital work. I hope to someday be "bad" as opposed to "horrendous" at digital painting.
Another thing that has helped me out a TON with digital painting is, all the 1000s of videos of artist's working from start to finish on their digital paintings (in time lapse). Each artist has different techniques they use, and watching them in action adds weapons to your ninja arsenal that you can use to ninja a painting with.

Regarding the comment Jeremy made about many digital artist's work looking similar, I'd say I sort of agree that the tools sort of restrict you. At least it feels that way to me. I just can't go about a painting the same way I would with traditional media. All I know is, with traditional painting, every bit of my method and style of painting, came through trial and error naturally. All my digital art is completed with a precise method I learned through tutorials (which I had to read/watch because I couldn't trial and error my way into anything good).

Unknown said...

I wanted to add to Jeremy's comments about the similarity of some digital painting. I've long held this same view.

I subscribe this to the initial limits of control when working digital. Digital tools can't yet replicate the pressure, rotation, tilt, etc. of the human hand and the intuitiveness that comes from it.

I think a lack of real world depth plays a large part too. Like Jeremy said, the way light hits the different textures of paint makes a huge difference whereas digital seems to have an inherent slickness.

Jon Hodgson said...

Artwork for print is all digital. It's why any adversarial "debate" is so tired.

There's no dichotomy at work - sooner or later all work for print becomes digital, with one colour on one pixel. At what point in the creation and reproduction of that work this happens is what we control as illustrators, and the choice reflects our needs as creatives, as businesses, and something of our core motivations.

Unknown said...

Yes, Jon but while all prints do become digital, digital prints of originals still hold on to somewhat of an extra dimension because the scan or photo will reproduce (to some extent) the way the light was falling over the textures of the real paint. You don't get that in digital without some extensive additional work. I think that in conjunction with the inherent texture of real paint is a distinct difference between the two mediums.

Digital has an inherent slickness because of a lack of natural texture whereas real paint/paper/canvas does. Both can be overcome. Those textures have many variations while that digital slickness is always the same. I think that's why Jeremy (as I do) may see a similarity between many digital artists.

Razwit (Preston Stone) said...

I do want to just throw this out there, that Art rage's pencil, is pretty much identical to my real life pencil sketches. So if you're looking for a program to mimic traditional media, Artrage does it pretty spectacularly. I do have issues with the paints in the program though, because I don't measure the amount of paint on my brush in %, but it's still a great program for a great price! (not being paid to say that)

Jon Hodgson said...

Bryan - in short, thats true if you believe it to be true. But your line of thinking there runs "Trad is better, because trad is better". If we don't agree on the first principle that debate crumbles. It's why its a silly debate.

I don't have a dog in the fight - I use mixed media, and if I weren't working entirely for print I'd be using oils. I think any adversarial talk between trad and digital is wholly, wholly redundant and speaks more of the commercial experience and personal priorities of the combatants than the combat.

"Better" in this case is highly subjective, as the episode shows very nicely - what one artist finds best for the job another does not. One simply cannot look at the first few stages of the creation an image made for reproduction, pull out only the qualities that matter to oneself, and then rate those and declare it universally better than another. It's just not that simple. It's not, as I say, a polar/binary/dichotomy thing. In this sense I'm not arguing or disagreeing with your subjective opinion here. How could I? I'm merely saying "that's a highly subjective opinion", and one that is subject to the caveats the show brought up.

In short - for me, as another highly subjective opinion - if I want to hang it on my wall I want an oil or a water colour. If I want to make 150 colour images in 3 months for print, which are likely to need numerous revisions, and I want the oil look without breathing turpentine all day, then I'm going to break out the Mac! :)

Andy said...

Having come from the oil painting camp into what is pretty much 100% digital (however much my sketching might be pencil, the final is overwhelmingly digital) I find myself quite firmly in the digital camp, especially in relation to 'using the best tool for the job', if that's a question. As you say Jon, the advantages of the various digital media make it too useful for the business of illustration over traditional media. IMO

I'd disagree about the inherent slickness of digital as a 'medium' (Actually, I'd argue that Photoshop is its own medium, Painter a separate one, and Artrage likewise, its own medium). What you're seeing is people using those mediums to get that result, in the same way that oil allows you to blend very carefully for a slick result, or airbrushing suited that direction but was not exclusively tied to it. How an artist chooses to use a medium is not the medium. Take a look at the personal work gallery of Mattias Snygg to see a broad range of artworks making best use of digital tools for an array of un-slick?!?! results (I have no actual idea what that means either...)

I think what I was trying to say up there is the use of the media by an artist is waaaay more important than the medium itself. The ONLY thing which matters is the result in context of the job.

In my opinion. Which is simply that. ;)

Andy said...

edit; I should note that not all Mattias' works are going to be considered safe for work by everyone, so please exorcise your own judgment about when and where you visit his very impressive gallery.

Unknown said...

Jon - I'm not trying to say that traditional or digital is better. I, myself, do most of my work digitally. When I'm talking about digital I actually probably mean Photoshop because it seems to be the most popular choice for digital artist.

It would be the same discussion if the majority of works were done in watercolor. Watercolors have an inherent opacity to them that give them a certain look. I think digital(photoshop) has an inherent slickness to it because of the reasons I listed above. Like you said, a lot comes from the artist regardless of the medium.

I think digital also contributes to this "similar feel" because of a steeper learning curve for the adequate use of it's tools. Like Socar mentioned, it took her months to realize what layers did. Or in my case years before I realized I could paint less "slick" using pen pressure for flow and not using opacity at all. There are dozens and dozens of settings in photoshop that many artists don't know about that would improve how they want to work. Traditional mediums usually don't have that barrier.

I'm just saying that I agree with Jeremy that a lot of digital art has a similar feel and that some of that is from the inherent properties of working digitally.

Thanks to you guys for putting on such a great show. I really, really enjoy it.

Unknown said...

By the way, Andy makes a lot of really good points.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, my not knowing what layers did was entirely down to failure to RTFM....

Drew Baker said...

Florian: I hope I'm at least consistent between here and Facebook. I'd hate to obviously contradict myself.

An addendum to my comments this episode:

Something I've learned from my forays back into oils that I forgot to mention on the show, and I think is actually pretty important, is good brushes. The difference between rendering with a synthetic #2 filbert and a #2 Winsor & Newton Series 7 brush was astonishing. Rekab's No. 3 Finest Kolinsy Sable brushes are also quite good. I've tried a few others -- Escoda, Arches, and Princeton come to mind -- with varying degrees of goodness, but I think I'll stick with the Rekab and W&N for the time being. (Also, don't be distracted by good _looking_ brushes. Often they're eye catching to make up for a lack of quality.)

Jon Hodgson said...

Yay! We all agree!