Digital Art vs Traditional Art : Similarities and Differences

With Covid speeding up the digitisation process, digital art has also found its place in the new normal. Having applied both in her daily work as an artist, Celine Chia shares her point of view with regards to the similarities and differences in Digital Art vs Traditional Art.

Table of Contents:

What is Digital Art?

Digital Art refers to artworks or works of art done created using digital technologies. Examples of digital softwares used to create Digital Art include Procreate, Maya, Wacom, Blender, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Check out our latest article on Digital Art Mediums for the latest trends in the Digital Art Scene.

Examples of Digital Art:

The following are some examples of Digital Art done using Procreate software:

Attack On Titan Season 4 Digital Artwork: Shingeki No Kyojin Fanart featuring Eren Yeager by Artist Celine Chia (2022)
Example of Digital Art – Attack on Titan Artwork (2022) done Procreate software by Artist Celine Chia

The above Digital Art was an art commission done using Procreate software in conjunction with the premiere of Attack on Titan Season 4 Part 2. The artwork features the anime protagonist Eren Yeager prior to his transformation into a titan. Check out the layers and how to recreate your own Digital rendition of Attack on Titan Artwork.

Digital Artwork with Procreate - Pokemon Ditto (2022), Artist Celine Chia
Digital Artwork with Procreate – Pokemon Ditto (2022), Artist Celine Chia

The above Digital Art was done using Procreate as Artist Celine Chia encountered an Artist Block and wanted to draw something simple and straightforward to take her mind off the usual intricate art pieces.

What is Traditional Art?

Traditional Art are works of art produced using physical mediums, as opposed to Digital Art. Traditional Art usually refers to styles of art that are part of a culture of a group of people, with skills and knowledge being passed on from craftsmen (artists) to apprentices.

Examples of Traditional Art:

Traditional Art comes in many forms and mediums. Some of the more popular Traditional Art mediums include Acrylic, Oil Painting, Watercolours, Oil Pastels, Coloured pencils and Pen and Ink.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2022 Artworks - Crave (2020), Artist Celine Chia, Acrylic on Canvas
Crave (2020), Artist Celine Chia, Acrylic on Canvas

The above traditional art was done using Acrylic as an art medium. This piece of work has a great significance behind it, and seeks to bring to light the underlying issues of eating disorders during the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Painting on a postcard - Santorini Artwork with watercolour
Painting on a Postcard – Santorini Artwork with Watercolour

The above artwork is another example of a Traditional Art using watercolour. The Santorini Artwork is another piece of artwork drawn during the pandemic due to the covid restrictions.

Similarities between Digital and Traditional Art :

  • For both artworks, you need to have the end goal in mind on how you want the picture to look like
  • Drawing skills, colour and toning – you will need to have at least a basic grasp of the colour scheme, the shadows and highlights to make your drawing look realistic.
  • Both use similar mediums (pen, pencil, marker, brushes)
  • Both require a canvas and brushes to start off.

Differences between Digital Art vs Traditional Art:

Digital ArtTraditional Art
AccuracyMuch easier to control your mouse to draw the perfect circle/lineRequires stable hands from the artist to draw a perfect shape/line
Alpha LockingCan ‘lock’ the object in position and paint within the objectRequires a lot of control of your own brushes
AmendmentsCan easily press undo or add/remove layers in betweenHarder to do amendments, as you will need to erase or paint over the previous layer
Ccmonstersart logo in the making. Digital Art vs Traditional Art - Digital art layers
Easier Amendments via Digital Art, with the Hiding & Removal of Layers
Digital ArtTraditional Art
AngleCan easily adjust the angle, as well as shrink or expand the object accordinglyNot possible unless you paint another layer over
Blending You can blend by adding 2 colours and blending them togetherYou will need to own the respective colours and adjust the tone by blending the colours together
BrushesEverything is accessible through the stylus, which serves as brushes of various thicknessNeed to own the various brushes in order to achieve the effects (E.g. Nylon brushes for acrylic, Coarse for oil painting and soft brushes for water colour)
Cookie Chronicles by Celine Chia. Another example of digital art vs traditional art (layers in procreate)
Exploring Various Brushes Techniques
Digital ArtTraditional Art
Colour ChoicesYou have the whole colour wheel in your grasp, along with the option of adjusting the tone and colours to your preferenceLimited choices, since you need to mix the colours to get the desired shade
CostRelatively cheaper since all you need is a tablet and the software installedRelatively more expensive, since you need to purchase the various materials like paint and paintbrushes
Delivery (To Client)Can be sent through various digital platforms (soft copy)Require manual delivery and careful handling of the canvas
Wave Bags ccmonstersart, example of traditional art (acrylic)
Wave Bags (Traditional Art)
Digital ArtTraditional Art
DuplicationCan be done easily, through copy and pasteNot possible to duplicate the work exactly
EffectsEasier to produce via adding filter effects (E.g. Colour Burn, Black and white)
It is also possible to add in animations and gifs onto the layer and wrap the object drawn
Harder to produce, since you need to draw everything yourself (E.g. shiny beams or monochrome tint on the entire canvas)
EfficiencyFaster pace, higher efficiencySlower pace, lower efficiency
cookie chronicles (colour burn effect in action)
Colour Burn Effect
Digital ArtTraditional Art
ExclusivityEasier to duplicate since you can make multiple copies at the same timeUnique and almost impossible to duplicate since every art work is never the same, even if it’s painted by the same artist
Layering Can have as many layers as you want, and can hide or remove the layers as you wishFor acrylic, the layer keeps increasing as you paint over the previous layer but you cannot remover the previous layer
For watercolour, the layer gets darker the more you paint over the previous layer
MaskingUtilise the masking functionUse masking tape to paste over the area that you do not wish to paint on
Prints (Patterns)Do up the initial one and you can replicate it easilyRequires you to draw the entire set of prints yourself
26 layers cookie chronicles
Multiple Layers (As Many or as Little as Desired)

Is Digital Art better than Traditional Art?

Ultimately whether digital vs traditional art, it boils down to the preference of the artist. Both Digital art and Traditional art each have their own respective pros and cons.

What is an Advantage of Digital Art over Traditional Art?

An advantage that Digital art has over Traditional Art is that Digital Art is relatively cheaper as compared to Traditional Art. This is due to the fact that all you need is the tablet and software, while Traditional art requires the artist to purchase the materials and paintbrushes.

What is an Advantage of Traditional Art over Digital Art?

On the other hand, one advantage Traditional art has over Digital Art is the fact that each art work is unique and exclusive. It is almost impossible to duplicate an exact copy of a traditional art, unlike Digital art whereby multiple prints can be made on demand.

Which is Easier? Digital Art or Traditional Art?

For Artist Celine Chia, although Digital Art is easier, she prefers Traditional Art as it is a testament of her skills. 
According to her, traditional art tests your foundation of the art style, since you need to know how to control your strokes as well as your blending techniques. 

To each his own, at the end of the day, art is subjective and the beauty of art is in the eyes of the beholder. As long as you (the artist) are confident and comfortable with the medium, you’ll be able to create wonderful masterpieces.

To sum up, here’s a quick table showing the breakdown of the differences between Digital Art vs Traditional Art:

DigitalTraditional
AccuracyMuch easier to control your mouse to draw the perfect circle/lineRequires stable hands from the artist to draw a perfect shape/line
Alpha LockingCan ‘lock’ the object in position and paint within the objectRequires a lot of control of your own brushes
AmendmentsCan easily press undo or add/remove layers in betweenHarder to do amendments, as you will need to erase or paint over the previous layer
AngleCan easily adjust the angle, as well as shrink or expand the object accordinglyNot possible unless you paint another layer over
Blending You can blend by adding 2 colours and blending them togetherYou will need to own the respective colours and adjust the tone by blending the colours together
BrushesEverything is accessible through the stylus, which serves as brushes of various thicknessNeed to own the various brushes in order to achieve the effects (E.g. Nylon brushes for acrylic, Coarse for oil painting and soft brushes for water colour)
Colour ChoicesYou have the whole colour wheel in your grasp, along with the option of adjusting the tone and colours to your preferenceLimited choices, since you need to mix the colours to get the desired shade
CostRelatively cheaper since all you need is a tablet and the software installedRelatively more expensive, since you need to purchase the various materials like paint and paintbrushes
Delivery (To Client)Can be sent through various digital platforms (soft copy)Require manual delivery and careful handling of the canvas
DuplicationCan be done easily, through copy and pasteNot possible to duplicate the work exactly
EffectsEasier to produce via adding filter effects (E.g. Colour Burn, Black and white)
It is also possible to add in animations and gifs onto the layer and wrap the object drawn
Harder to produce, since you need to draw everything yourself (E.g. shiny beams or monochrome tint on the entire canvas)
EfficiencyFaster pace, higher efficiencySlower pace, lower efficiency
ExclusivityEasier to duplicate since you can make multiple copies at the same timeUnique and almost impossible to duplicate since every art work is never the same, even if it’s painted by the same artist
Layering Can have as many layers as you want, and can hide or remove the layers as you wishFor acrylic, the layer keeps increasing as you paint over the previous layer but you cannot remover the previous layer
For watercolour, the layer gets darker the more you paint over the previous layer
MaskingUtilise the masking functionUse masking tape to paste over the area that you do not wish to paint on
Prints (Patterns)Do up the initial one and you can replicate it easilyRequires you to draw the entire set of prints yourself
Table showing Differences between Digital and Traditional Art

If you like our informative works showcasing the similarities and differences between Digital Art vs Traditional Art, do check us out on instagram @ccmonstersart

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