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How Digital Art is Made
Digital art is the product of the advancement of the information age and allows games, paintings, photos, etc to be made in new ways, and sometimes, it allows them to exist. The easiest way to categorize is to observe the art and determine if it is purely drawn by the artist or digital technology is only used to enhance a photo, film, etc.
These works of art don't have anything to do with anything physically real in the sense that they are created wholly inside the computer by the artist. Many digital paintings are purely digital, as are computer games and graphics. A webpage or anything visually "engineered" in a computer may be regarded as digital art, you don't have to constrain your thinking to only pictures.
When effects or drawings are added to existing pictures or movies we consider them partly digital. Special effects in films like Lord Of The Rings are partly digital because the effects are cast on to a copy of the original film. Andy Warhol style effects can also be achieved on a PC, this would also be considered partly digital, as would retouched photos.
The most basic method for creating digital art is known to most people. Open Microsoft Paint and start drawing a sketch and there you have it, digital art! There is much more to it than this however, there are some options you have to choose from and knowing what task you're up to is a must. Two factors determine the method of making digital art. The input and software used.
The input you probably use when using Paint is your run-of-the-mill mouse. Don't think technology stopped there! The industry standard for creating any type of art on the computer is a tablet and pen. This is essentially a pressure sensitive surface where you can use the pen to draw while you can also control ink flow, tilt, etc, as you could in real life. The higher you climb the price ladder the more features you get. Nearing the top you don't get a surface, you get a whole touch screen monitor to draw on, so you're pen draws where the actual drawing will be, this is a major help.
For many artists there are special keyboards, so they can control their software with one-push motions on the keyboard. If you've ever been to a cutting lab, you know what this looks like. The keyboard has rows of green/blue buttons usually. There are also fully customizable keyboards like the DX-1.
Different software has been created for different tasks. Photographers, painters, etc use Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw the most which are the most well-built software on the market and are well worth the price for professionals. For web authors Flash is the way to go because it combines vector graphics with a very intuitive interface and small file sizes. For video effects big studios usually develop their own software and use some previous software developed by other companies. There are also free options on the net which are definitely appropriate for beginners, their features may rival professional packages in some cases.