El Estoque

Battle of the arts

Sarah Young

Sophomore Catherine Liu first started drawing with pencils and paper. These pencil drawings, whether they are scribbles or realism sketches, are considered traditional art. Traditional art is ubiquitous from primary school to high school. In primary school basic paintings with watercolors or drawings with crayons are taught. After the basics is a time of self exploration into the different forms art takes. Two well known forms are traditional and digital. Digital art is similar to traditional art in its framework but it functions differently. It uses modern technology unlike traditional which is using tools and one’s hands. This difference is important to Art teacher Brian Chow’s preference between the two.

“I would prefer traditional personally [because] I think anything with the artist’s hand and intentions are less filtered,” Chow said.  “I appreciate [that] with work.”

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A traditional drawing made by Liang. She used pen and washi tape for the clothing. Liang like to use different kinds of mediums and style in her approach towards art. Photo by Sarah Young, art provided by cathy Liang.

In order to create digital art, skills from traditional art are required, as digital art is essentially traditional art but on an electronic platform. Meaning the basics in drawing applies to both as does the understanding of painting and color composition. Although digital art functions electronically, it mimics the layers of traditional art and has tools that are programmed to function as brushes.

Traditional art in retrospect is largely related to digital art because it has been made using pencils, brushes or other similar tools. The use of either style is reliant upon what the artist sees as befitting of their idea or their own personal preference. Art teacher Tyler Cripe believes the two mediums are too big to be isolated, as there are many different aspects within them.

“I practice both [digital and traditional art] and it depends on what your final product is meant to be, but it also depends on which process you want to go through, like which process do you enjoy the most,” Cripe said. “I kind of waffle back and forth between them. As soon as I get done with a digital project, I’m kind of over it and then I go traditional for a while and then I’m over that.”

Traditional art is often times the starting point for many artists. Sophomore Catherine Liu began drawing because her friends around her were drawing, and although she draws traditionally mainly she is learning and trying out digital drawing as well. However, Liu finds traditional art more convenient because it takes up less space.

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A realistic pencil sketch from Liang’s school sketchbook. Her main style is cartoonish or anime styled. Photo by Sarah Young, art provided by Cathy Liang.

“For traditional art, it’s just that I like the feel of pencil and paper — it’s really rough and nice, and you can actually to actually be able to use actual tools and really get the feel and texture of the materials that you’re using.” Liu said.

Similarly, sophomore Kathy Liang finds digital art to be inconvenient in comparison to traditional art. Liang has been drawing since she was in first grade but only began to take it seriously in seventh grade.

“[With digital art] you have to get a tablet [and] set up all the drawing [applications] like Photoshop,” Liang said. “With traditional art you can do it anywhere. You can just pick up a piece of paper and a pencil and you can start drawing and that’s what I really like about it.”

Although digital art requires less materials in order to replicate traditional art, it requires a tablet and several programs, whose cost can range from $50 to $2000. On the other hand, digital art allows all tools to be in one spot. This is where digital and traditional art differ. Both styles attain the same outcome but the experience is different.

Liu believes that different mediums create different experiences. They may be used to attain the same outcome, but the experience varies because of different variables like time and location affecting the artist’s mood.The experience gained from each medium is a determining factor for Chow in his preferences.

“Marks are messy when you’re working with a paint brush, and some of those messes add a lot of interest to the work you’re painting,” Chow said. “For example, if you’re working with film, you have film grain and that can be really frustrating, but it’s also a part of the process. Some of those things need to be embraced.”

Sophomore Autumn Boustead finds the ability to erase mistakes handy and is the main reason she draws digitally more frequently. Boustead has been drawing seriously since 5th grade.


A digital drawing made by Autumn Boustead. Digital art makes it easier for her to transmit her artwork. Photo given by Autumn Boustead.

“I like that [in digital art there’s], no eraser shavings. Cause that’s such a hassle when they get under your papers and then you have to brush them out,” Boustead said, “Along with that control z, so you don’t have to go through the process of either erasing or ripping paper.”

Boustead also appreciates the features that come with the convenience digital art offers. The feature being a variety of artificial textures. The only few problems she has with digital art is the possibility of malfunction.

“With digital art with the programs that you use, sometimes they malfunction and you lose files which is really frustrating,” Boustead said, “Especially if you spent hours and hours of work on that, whereas with traditional if you keep them in the right spot and you know where that is you’ll probably not lose them but otherwise that’s the main negatives for me.”


A drawing depicting Boustead’s original character. Digital art allows her to use different kinds of brushes in one location. Photo given by Autumn Boustead.

The value of art and the experience that comes with it varies from person to person. Although traditional and digital art are different, they share enough in common to create a sort of bridge. In the end their main purpose is to act as a means or human expression.

“It’s really just about what the artist’s own preference and what he or she feels and thinks,” Liu said. ”There are no limitations to art — there isn’t just traditional and digital art.I feel that there isn’t really a say to which kind of medium is better traditional or digital —  it’s really just the person’s own preference.”

About the Writer
Sarah Young, Graphics Editor

Junior Sarah Young is currently a Graphics editor for El Estoque. In her free time Sarah likes to draw, read and take walks in the park. She is currently...