What is digital painting?(About illustration, concept art, matte-painting)

I decided to write an article about digital painting after I heard my senior co-worker accusing someone about using photos in their paintings. It’s “cheating” if you use photos, isn’t it?

Well, he didn’t know that the artwork was, in reality, a matte painting.

So, what’s up with those definitions? What is digital painting, how illustration differs from the concept art, and what’s the matte-painting and photobashing? I will try to explain all these definitions and more in this article.
Let’s start from the beginning.


What is a digital painting?

Digital Painting is a conversion from traditional forms of painting and drawing, such as watercolor, oil painting, sketch, etc. through a digital tool that transmits information to a computer, using a tablet, stylus and software. Digital Painting is mainly used in the production industry. It is most often used for conceptual design for movies, television and video games.

To use the functions of graphics tablets you need software or digital painting – the so-called software such as Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop, ArtRage, GIMP, Krita or openCanvas. The programs create an environment similar to the real-physical artist: canvas, card, painting tools, many color options.


Digital Painting vs Traditional Painting (pros nad cons)

Digital painting has both advantages and disadvantages. It allows the artist to easily work in an organized, clutter-free workshop, however, some say that the artist’s work holding a physical brush in his hand is always more accurate and allows to reflect more “emotions”.

The opposite of this art is that digital images are scarcred by the lack of a physical artist who does not transfer his unique intentions and style.

Many artists publish blogs and comment on various differences between a digitally created work and traditionally executed works of art.



What is s concept art?

Concept art is a form of illustration (but is not an illustration by itself) in which the main purpose to express a presentation of the project, idea, mood, for use in movies, computer games or comic books.

This is a relatively new term popularized by artists working in companies producing cars and computer games. This term was used for the first time in the 1930s in the United States.

Concept art is also directed at the development of visualization in traditional animations. This term was later taken over by the gaming industry. Illustrations have become necessary for the development of visual properties. Conceptual graphic is the introduction to visualization in the presented productions. Great examples are the figures and buildings in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.


What is Matte Painting?

Matte Painting is a technique for creating a landscape, set, or distant location that allows filmmakers to create the illusion of an environment that is not present at the filming location.

Paint has now been superseded by digital images created using photo references, 3-D models, and drawing tablets. Matte painters combine their digitally matte painted textures within computer-generated 3-D environments, allowing for 3-D camera movement.
Lighting algorithms used to simulate lighting sources expanded in scope in 1995, when radiosity rendering was applied to film for the first time in Martin Scorsese’s Casino. Matte World Digital collaborated with LightScape to simulate the indirect bounce-light effect of millions of neon lights of the 70s-era Las Vegas strip. Lower computer processing times continue to alter and expand matte painting technologies and techniques.


What is the difference between a graphic designer and a digital artist?

A Graphic Designer is someone whose main goal is to solve communication and visual problems. He creates graphic images primarily for printed, published or electronic media (banners, roll-ups, graphic images for online ads etc.)

A Digital Artist is a person who creates art using digital media. It’s a term widely used for illustrator, concept artists etc.

Both, Graphic Designer and Digital Artist use digital media but they differ in the context of their art process. The graphic designer usually assembles different images together to create some visual effects. The Digital Artist usually works from a “scratch” often sketching first their artwork – scanning – and finishing it using graphic software.

Each graphic designer and digital artists have their own specializations, but the graphic designers have the most knowledge of:

  • Logo design
  • Typography
  • flyer design
  • Banner, poster
  • Advertisement design
  • business  card design

While digital artists have the skillset mostly in:

  • Digital painting
  • Game visual art design
  • Fractal art
  • 3d modeling

What is Photobashing?

Photobashing is an art technique in digital painting, where an artists blends into his artworks photos, images or 3d models. It’s used to speed their painting process and achieve more realistic paintings.

Is digital painting easier than traditional?

It all depends.
If you use traditional media mostly, then starting digital painting will be more difficult than learning the traditional painting. And vice versa – if you already did some graphic designs in Photoshop, it will be easier for you to make a digital painting rather than traditional painting (if you didn’t have a chance to play with paint and paintbrushes)

Most of us had some lessons of traditional painting at school – how to blend colors, and other stuff. Therefore it’s understandable, that traditional painting will be much easier for most of us.

The traditional and digital paintings require the same set of skills and knowledge: anatomy, composition, lighting, use of the color. In the case of digital painting, you also have to master the usage of the graphics software and purchase the tools (digital tablet, PC, graphic software).
That’s a disadvantage and an advantage at the same time. Disadvantage because learning how to use the graphic software itself takes some time. And if you want to use different software – you have to learn using it again (a few hours of tutorials usually is enough). And Advantage, because digital painting gives you much more possibilities and tools, which makes the art process a lot faster.

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