So my creative time recently has been spent on learning Mixed Media art. This is my fourth piece, and the largest at 10″ square. It occurred to me while finishing this off that there are a lot of parallels between real life art and digital art that have relevance for digital artists.
I say this because I came to digital art via photography. My skills in painting and drawing by hand are non existent so making art in the physical space has never been an experience for me. Of course, I am doing it all backwards most likely 🙂
Tip # 1 Start with Quality Ingredients
There is a colloquial phrase here in NZ “You can’t polish a turd” which certainly applies with art, of any kind I’m sure.
Quite simply, you need to start with quality ingredients – be it paints or photographs and digital media. This can be an expensive and time consuming exercise, but what you put into it will dictate the quality of the final result
Tip#2 Prepare your Background Properly
Of course this might depend on your final image, but in my experience, taking time to prepare a good background enhances the overall image. It adds textural depth and interest to the image, rather than being blank space.
In the piece above, my background is crumpled tin foil (shiny side down), strips of plastering tape and paper die cut steampunk cogs. It helps frame the image and give the eye points of interest to move around.
Doing the same in a digital image is important, it can be harder in some ways, as you lose the benefit of the 3D effect and have to make up for that in different ways.
Tip #3 Have Enough Stuff
It can be challenging to put together an interesting and varied piece of art if you have a limited choice of options to use.
Invest in a range of different elements, so you have choices. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment and use things in an unusual way. In digital art, I found creative application of brushes and masking and colours could have some really interesting effect. All it took was some time, and the willingness to think outside the box.
Tip #4 Build Layers and Depth into the piece
You can see from the image above, I actually have a key sticking out of the keyhole element. This piece has elements stacked 4 layers high – starting from the background.
Careful placement and balance of elements is important for a cohesive piece. It needs to work as a whole, not just a scattering of different bits.
In digital work, the layers are virtual, but still have relevance in the placement of the components – should this bit go in front or behind that bit, maybe a mask here or there?
Tip #5 Colour is Important
You can see from the images in the above slideshow, a radical difference. One was the first development of colour application – the image has been coloured and toned, a vignette effect added in. But it was all one tone and lacked impact.
The final image has copper, gold, verdigris and patina effect added. Suddenly different elements stand out, the background has the colour tones blended in to support the overall effect, it has become a more interesting and effective piece
Sometimes you might have to rework an image several times before you finally reach the finished piece that you envisioned.
Tip#6 Once the Glue has dried, there is no going back
This is where digital varies from real life art – if you are saving your work in Photoshop layers and keeping those intact, then everything you do can be changed as often as you like. I wonder now, if that lack of final commitment makes it harder or easier for us to create?
With physical art, once the glue has set or the paint has dried, there is not much you can do to alter a piece. With this 4th work, I actually did it in stages, taking time to place elements and let it sit over night, and see if I was happy with it. The glue was only applied once I had manipulated the design and decided how each piece should sit.
Taking the time to do this made it a better end result, I know I made many changes from my original concept. Because each time the glue was applied, it was a final commitment, so it was important to take time to get the positions right.
Tip#7 Seeing your art for real in the physical space is awesome
Like many photographers and digital artists, I don’t print my work often enough. I know that I should, but cost is a factor.
So being able to work on a piece with your hands and see it come to life when the paint is applied for the first coat is a delight I could get quite addicted too 🙂
So my thoughts on the links between making art in the digital or virtual space, and getting messy with the paint brush on the lounge floor!
Who else out there does art in real life? What are your thoughts on the links between creating physical art and digital? Do you agree with my tips?