Sunday, March 4, 2012

Watercolor, Traditional vs Digital

I decided to tackle an old unfinished watercolor, this time in the program ArtRage, which is second perhaps only to Corel Paint for simulating traditional mediums like pencil, oil and watercolor.  Below is my original unfinished work (from Night of the Living Dead) which was rendered in watercolor and pen+ink and black pencil. I was unsatisfied with the blue-green color mixture that I had chosen to paint it with and so I elected to stop and scan the painting into Photoshop to tweak the colors and levels until I got this vivid mix of blood red and magenta. That made me want to repaint it properly in the new colors but I never got around to it until now.

Working in real watercolor can be challenging, to say the least. There are no editable layers and no undo button and less latitude to correct inevitable errors even compared to lots of other traditional media. On the other hand, this environment of unpredictability breeds a lot of happy accidents resulting in unique effects. So these very same errors are part of the allure of watercolor in the first place. Only in recent years have the tools to digitally replicate this interesting tactile randomness been available in programs like Paint and ArtRage. Okay, so here's my attempt to redo the painting in ArtRage:

Again, this is unfinished and the colors and levels were tweaked in Photoshop. Obviously there are a great many distinct differences between the two paintings. For me this was just sort of proof-of-concept tinkering, anyway. I know that if I were determined to, I could come a lot closer to replicating the traditional watercolor painting, which I only referenced toward the end of the repainting. If I go forward with this repainting, I might even choose completely different colors. But I think I'll move on....


Estancia De La Ding Dong said...

The one with digital enhancements done ArtRage is more appealing to me because of its dreamlike qualities.

Steve said...

Oh, cool. Thanks! And I pretty much agree. Unquestionably, digital is more versatile. And the need for expensive paint, brushes and board is eliminated. Most illustrators work in digital now. But there is something groovy about watercolor. That old-school pulp illustration feel.