The entire world is going digital, and art isn’t any different!
Gone are the days when artists needed a paper canvas to bring their creativity to life. Technology has provided a plethora of digital tools and mediums for artists in recent years. It is safe to say that digital art is here to stay!
Whether you are a professional artist or an art student, we don’t see any reason why you should not explore digital art. But if you haven’t ventured away from conventional art yet, there can be some nervous energy at the idea of taking up digital art.
Are you curious about the different types of digital art? Read on to know about 12 of the most prevalent types you could try.
For the sake of brevity and clarity, we have divided this list into two categories – purely computer-generated and other forms. Without further ado, let’s dive into all the details…
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A. Purely Computer-Generated Digital Art Styles
If it is a digital art form, you know that a computer will come into play at some point or the other. But here are some types of digital art that are generated solely on a computer; no other tool is used from the start to the end of the creative process.
Datamoshing or glitch art is one of the most popular digital art forms today. Irrespective of whether you are an expert, hobbyist, or student, you must have seen glitchy memes or GIFs. But how do you create one of these viral glitch art pieces?
Before getting into the details of the somewhat complicated and time-consuming datamoshing process, we want you to know that it applies to videos and animated GIFs. The glitch-type effect is achieved by data manipulation of media files. You can use various software like Avidemux to datamosh videos.
Modern compressed videos are made up of three types of frames – I-frames, P-frames, and B-frames. You would be playing with these frames of a video file while datamoshing. I-frames store the entire picture and don’t need any additional information to be displayed.
P-frames and B-frames do not store the entire picture and need some information from either the previous or the subsequent frame to be displayed. These frames usually contain just enough data to describe the difference or change in the picture from the previous or subsequent I-frame.
You can choose from two standard techniques to datamosh video files:
- Removing, replacing, or corrupting an I-frame so that the data in the subsequent P-frame applies to the wrong picture, creating a glitch.
- Selecting a P-frame and duplicating it repeatedly so that the data in it is applied consecutively to the picture in an adjacent I-frame to create the Bloom effect.
2. Algorithmic Art
Algorithmic art is a form of generative art, which is created using an autonomous system of computer algorithms. One of the most famous generative art pieces is Kate Compton’s Flowers.
Any digital artist who creates algorithmic art is known as an algorist. But what role would you play in the art creation process?
As an algorist, you create the algorithm, which in turn creates the art. These algorithms may consist of expressions, functions, computer code, or other forms of input in generative, computational, or mathematical form.
Artists can go for a deterministic algorithm or include a bit of randomness. A deterministic algorithm will produce 100% identical art on every iteration. Incorporating a factor like an external data stream or a random number generator adds variety to the art created by an algorithm.
It is interesting to note that the earliest records of algorithmic art date back to the 1960s. But that was not strictly digital art as it was executed or drawn by a plotter rather than a computer.
One of the most renowned works of algorithmic art is Jack Ox’s visualization of Ursonate (Kurt Shwitters’ extant music score).
3. Fractal Art
Fractal art is essentially a sub-type of algorithmic art. But there is a lot to talk about here, so we are addressing it as a separate digital art form. The lexical meaning of a fractal can be a bit confusing for non-mathematicians. In simple terms, a fractal is an infinite pattern that is similar across various scales.
Fractal art takes the calculation of fractal objects and represents it as animation, still images, and other media. You can choose from over a dozen fractal-generating software, free and commercial, to create fractal art. Post-processing of fractal art through other software is a common trend in the field.
What makes a fractal intriguing is that no matter how far you zoom in, you will see repetitions of the same pattern. It can be challenging to create fractals because of this – a small change in any of the variables can lead to the butterfly effect.
Some of the first and most famous fractals created include:
There are several types of fractal art, of which the Mandelbrot set is considered to be iconic. You can find variations of the Mandelbrot set, like the Mandelbulb and the Mandelbox. If you want to create a Mandelbrot set, you will be able to change the color of the output but not the form. This is because the creation process is predetermined as per an equation.
Lindenmayer Systems (or L-systems) are used to describe the growth process of plants using patterns of shapes, lines, and colors. You can also use L-systems to model the morphology of various other organisms.
You can explore other types of fractal art, such as Iterated Function Systems (IFS), Polynomial fractals, Newton fractals, and Quaternionic fractals.
4. Still Imagery
One of the most common types of computer-generated digital art comes in the form of still images, both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional.
2D still images (aka 2D computer graphics) are created by combining text, 2D geometric models (vector graphics), mathematical equations, digital images (raster graphics), and so on. You can use Adobe Illustrator, Flash, and other readily available software to create 2D still images.
3D still images (aka 3D computer graphics) are created using 3D representations of geometric data stored for rendering images or performing calculations. It relies on many of the algorithms used for 2D computer graphics (raster and vector). The process of creating 3D computer graphics can be subdivided into three parts:
- Modeling, where the computer model of an object’s shape is formed.
- Layout and Animation, where the placement and movement of various objects in a scene are done.
- Rendering, where the image is generated based on surface type, light placement, and other qualities.
3D still images are most commonly used for computer animation and video game graphics. You can use several 3D Modeling and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to create 3D graphics.
Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) has gained extraordinary prominence as a form of digital art. It involves static as well as dynamic images and mostly uses 3D computer graphics rather than 2D computer graphics. You have more control over computer-generated animations compared to conventional animation techniques.
It is important to note that animation based on 2D computer graphics is merely computer-assisted and not computer-generated animation. The process of CGI or 3D animation involves these steps:
- Objects are modeled on the computer.
- 3D figures are given a virtual skeleton.
- The final animation is rendered.
B. Other Types of Digital Art
Now that we have discussed the various computer-generated digital art forms, it is time to look at some others where the reliance on computers is not as high.
1. Vector Painting
A Vector is a format in which images are stored and also a mainstream digital art type that uses this format. You will capture all lines and shapes in terms of geometrical formulas in vector painting. What makes it interesting is the added convenience of one-click operations like flip, emboss, cast shadow, group, make transparent, change color, and so on.
You can enlarge vector paintings without worrying about losing their sharpness. You can either choose a fundamental geometric shape or draw it by hand before transforming it with special tools to create a manual vector painting.
2. Raster Painting
Raster, like Vector, is an image storage format as well as a mainstream digital painting type that uses this format. It is also known as bitmap or grid painting and is the closest alternative of traditional art on canvas. Each color and line is registered on the digital canvas pixel by pixel.
It is a digital copy of a physical piece of art, where all the characteristics of an original painting are rendered digitally in a stroke-by-stroke fashion. The only downside we have experienced with raster painting is that it cannot be enlarged.
3. Pixel Art
Pixel Art, as the name suggests, involves the digital creation of images at the pixel level. You may not know it, but the chances are that you have encountered pixel art at least once. Most of the video games and computer games were based on pixel art back in the day. And almost all mobile games use it today.
Pixel art can be broadly classified as isometric and non-isometric. We recommend using dedicated software like Pixen and Krita to create pixel art.
4. Integrated Art
Integrated art is well on its way to becoming the next big thing in digital art! It involves the use of different software for the same painting or a program dedicated for creation of hybrid paintings. Some of the most common combinations include:
- Vector and Raster painting
- Manual and computer-generated vectors
- Photography and raster or vector painting
We recommend using dedicated software like ArtRage for creating integrated art. Combining different art forms was not possible on traditional mediums like canvas. Artists get a seemingly infinite array of options for integrating various art forms digitally.
5. Photo Painting
As the name suggests, Photo Painting involves creating a painting using a photograph as a starting point. As a digital artist who wants to try photo painting, you would have to venture beyond the conventional darkroom techniques of traditional photo development.
Photo painting brings together paint and image editing software to add more details and expression to paintings inspired by photographs. It is safe to say that photo painting is the like photo-realism – duplicating photographs on canvases as realistically as possible.
You can start photo painting using commonly used software like Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop.
6. Digital Collage
Digital Collage is a common and straightforward type of digital art, which can be created using any standard paint or image editing software. It is a technique of combining images from various sources into a collage.
While creating a collage with physical hard copies of photographs has always been common, digital collage requires the use of digital tools. And the creative process takes place on a computer. One of the most widely used applications for creating digital collages was Google’s Picasa before it was discontinued in 2016.
7. Digital Photography
Digital Photography is perhaps the most widely used type of digital art today, and understandably so! The old cameras used by photographers included a photo reel of the negatives, while the new digital cameras come with SD card storage. That goes to show that digitalization has revolutionized the field of photography.
These digitized photographs are transferred to a computer after being captured. You can use special effects and image editing software to manipulate and fine-tune the results. Operating digital cameras involves a learning curve, and you may need some practice to get better at this art form!
Summing It Up
Digital art requires the usage of digital technology and tools as an integral part of the creative process. If that does not hold, you cannot call it digital art.
With the advent of technology, all aspects of our lives have gone digital to a great extent. The influence of artists in the creation of conventional art was 100%, but it can be as low as zero when it comes to digital art.
Moreover, you get an “undo” option when you are creating art on a computer. Digital artists enjoy the benefits of flexibility, spontaneity, and faster output relative to conventional artists.
We hope one of the 12 digital art types we have reviewed will pique your interest.
Till next time!