Art Monday: how much digital?

Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Recently, I purchased a Wacom Intuos 3 4x6 tablet. Many of the contemporary artists I admire have included some digital elements into their workflow. I'm thinking of people like Jon Foster who paints in oil, then digital, and back again. Some artists like Wayne Barlowe were resolute in working with traditional materials, until experimentation with digital tools yielded a change of attitude, as seen in this digital piece by Barlowe from his Inferno series.

The last couple of years, I have incorporated more and more dig
ital elements in my work, especially for blog banners. I've been reading ImagineFX quite a bit to get a handle on the possibilities. There are times when I see a complicated method for say, a tree root, that I scratch my head and wonder why not just oil paint it instead of all this 3-d vectoring? The right tool for the right job.

In the case of my new Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil banner, it is still painted mostly in oils on a piece of shale. But I wanted to add a bit of multi-media to it, and included some pencilled portions of the crinoids on the right side. For digital, I often simply colour-correct and add text. This time I added a bit more with the tablet. Using a neutral putty-coloured background, you can see how much digital is painted over top of my scan of the oil-painted-shale:Click to enlarge. For comparison, here's the full painting again:You can see some details were added. Though I use incredibly small Micron brushes, I was able to add even more little veiny-structures to the wings. A few more highlights in blue, pink and white to add to the iridescence, with some green and blue transparent paint underneath to give some depth and a prismatic feel.

I also spent ages getting the correct green for the nobs on the trilobite's back
, to give it some coloured markings, though I'm not sure how visible they really are in the final.

The part I'm happiest with is the bit of green algae or moss staining the shale around a phantom outline of a crinoid stalk near the bottom centre.


It's a little thing, but using partially opaque digital paint and shaping it with the handy eraser on the back of the digital pen, I managed to create a detail I quite like in a previously empty area. This felt like a minor landmark in my painting abilities.

Will digital painting completely overwhelm my oils in a couple of years, as some friends and colleagues have speculated? It could happen. At the moment though, my art is a mashed together hybrid of traditional and digital, pigment and pixel.

Suitable that the blog is named after a mashed together hybrid too, I think.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
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