The popularity of digital art is increasing every year as the technology required is increasingly becoming readily available to everyone. Once the domain of graphic designers or artists such as Andy Warhol is now becoming a common way to create artwork. No other medium would let you erase 100 times, without harming your canvas in the slightest.
This article will explain the different styles of digital art and will discuss each category in a little detail to help clear up some of the confusion. Anyone new to digital art will no doubt have encountered terms such as ‘vector’, ‘Pixel’ or ‘mixed media’ art but may well have not been able to access a clear explanation. As is always the way with art, there is always some interpretation and the way I have chosen to categorise the art styles might not suit everyone.
Digital art can be divided into 5 main styles, Mixed Media, Vector, Fractal, Digital Painting and Pixel:
Mixed media or integrated art
Since the arrival of Photoshop in the 90s, mixed media or integrated art has been rolled out to the masses. Mixed media is exactly what its name suggests; it is the merging of many art styles such as painting, photography, drawing and digital. Using programs such as Photoshop artists are able to combine these art forms with often amazing results. One popular style of mixed media is ‘Pop art’, led by the Andy Warhol portrait styles that consist of using a computer program to add bright colours to the image and often align multiple panels together to form blocks of 4 or 9 images in different colours. Mixed Media is often seen in digital abstract art.
One of the most popular digital art techniques, a better term for it might be “vector-based art,” meaning art created using a vector-based program such as Illustrator or Freehand or Corel Draw. The artist uses vector drawing software and creates the image totally in a virtual environment. The style makes use of shapes which are outlined and can be filled with various colors and patterns; this usually produces a harder edged or graphic look. The signature flat colours and clean lines are easy to spot and quick to grab attention making them popular with advertisers looking to get the attention of the public.
Fractal art has been around for a while but is seeing resurgence of late. Examples of fractals can be found in the natural world however in terms of digital art it is art created entirely using mathematical formulae; they are infinite in their ability to be viewed in ever increasing detail. The closer you look the more detail there is, as you zoom into the image. Fractal art is usually created using fractal generating software, the program has three main phases: setting parameters of appropriate fractal software, executing the possibly lengthy calculation and evaluating the product.
Digital painting is an art form in which traditional painting techniques such as watercolor, oils, impasto, etc are applied using digital software. Digital painting is different to many other forms of digital art in that it is created without using a template or computer generated model. The artist uses painting techniques to create the digital painting directly onto the computer. The digital art software program uses traditional techniques such as brush strokes and colour blending to mimic the physical media. Styles available are increasingly diversified but include pastels, watercolour, oils, charcoals and acrylic to name just a few.
In amongst all these ground breaking digital art forms Pixel art a resurgence of old school pixel techniques is proudly celebrating the humble beginnings of computer art. It is a retro digital art style that is making a comeback. When seen, most people immediately remember their old commodore 64 or Atari graphics, indeed these old computers and video games all use pixel technology. Pixel art is drawn pixel by pixel in minute detail usually using a very limited colour palette and primitive computer graphics tools. One of the more popular programs is Microsoft Paint, this program hasn’t been updated for years however it is a perfectly suitable tool for creating pixel art.