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Digital Art. Fine Art. Fine art is: "..creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic or intellectual content” - according to the Oxford English Dictionary. What is Digital Art?.

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fine art
Fine Art

Fine art is:

"..creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic or intellectual content”

- according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

what is digital art
What is Digital Art?

Digital art is like any other art. It just is created using different tools than the more traditional arts. Art is not about the tools used to create it. It is about the vision, message, or emotion of the artist.

Photography & Painting are mediums through which artist's may create art. Likewise, a computer is just a medium or tool through which an artist can express his/her vision of line, form, color, composition and rhythm.


An artist chooses the medium (oils, watercolors, or pixels) he/she wants to use. When the digital artist, has mastery over the tools and technologies [software, equipment, etc.], they can go beyond "taking a digital picture" or "applying an effect" and create art - an individual expression of her vision.

phase 1 1956 1986 the pioneers
Phase 1: 1956-1986 The Pioneers

This includes the pioneers of digital art, some of whom were not primarily artists, but whose visual explorations were crucial to the emerging medium. The writing of computer programs was central to most of the work during this period.

phase 1 continued
Phase 1 continued…

The date 1956 has been chosen for the birth of computer art because a number of commentators, including SIGGRAPH panels and Jasia Reichardt, director of the prestigious Institute of Contemporary Arts in London England, have cited this date. It is a little arbitrary for several reasons, firstly because much of the 'digital' art starting in this period was in fact analogue, and because the experiments of both Ben Laposky and John Whitney Sr. started a little earlier. Nevertheless, it marks the beginnings of computer art experiments by a third early pioneer, Herbert Franke, and in some sense also the beginning of a movement. 1986 has been chosen as the end of this pioneering period with a similar arbitrariness, but not without some important historical landmarks, all to do with the paint system. Firstly, Britain's BBC TV broadcast a series called 'Painting with Light' which followed a group of well-known modern painters as they came to grips with the Quantel Paintbox (a pioneering television graphics paint system); secondly, Andy Warhol made a series of works with the Commodore Amiga, including self-portraits and portraits of singer Deborah Harry; and thirdly it was the year in which Photoshop was written (though not yet released for the mass market).

phase 1 artists
Phase 1 artists
  • Yoshikuki Abe
  • Herbert W Franke
  • Laurence Gartel
  • Sue Gollifer
  • Jean-Pierre Herbert
  • Manfred Mohr
  • A. Michael Noll
  • Joan Truckenbrod
  • Roman Verostko
  • Mark Wilson
  • Edward Zajec
phase 2 1986 1996 the paintbox era
Phase 2: 1986-1996 The Paintbox Era

In this period art software became available (slowly at first), attracting artists who could create works without programming. The principle software to emerge during this period was the paint program, underpinned by affordable computers and devices such as the

phase 2 continued
Phase 2 continued….

Phase 2 of Digital Art (tentatively called 'the Paintbox Era') runs from 1986 to 1994, in which year the world wide web took off.

phase 2 artists
Phase 2 artists
  • James Faure-Walker
  • Mike King
  • Gerhard Mantz
phase 3 1996 current the multimedia era
Phase 3: 1996 – current The Multimedia Era

With the growing availability of technologies of interactivity and Internet access, we see both a democratisation of the medium and new interactive and online artforms.

phase 3 artists
Phase 3 artists
  • C.E.B. Reas

Following are descriptions from the Digital Fine Arts Society of New Mexico which accurately describes the various types of Digital Fine Art.

digital photography
Digital Photography

The artist uses a digital or conventional camera. The photographs are digitized and translated to the computer environment where the artist uses image editing and special effects software to perform darkroom type manipulations.


This combines the disciplines of photography and painting. The artist uses image editing and paint software to go beyond dark room techniques to add further expression to the image.

digital collage
Digital Collage

This is a technique of combining many images from varying sources into one image. This is most commonly achieved by the use of layering techniques in image editing and paint software. The artist may also use images from x-rays or radar to produce images that the eye does not normally see, which expands the realm of human perception.

integrated digital art
Integrated Digital Art

This is the "mixed media" of the digital art world. Artists combine any number of the techniques to achieve unique results. The digital environment is much less restricted than conventional mediums in this type of integration and manipulation.

digital painting
Digital Painting
  • 2D: The artist creates 2D images totally in the computer virtual environment with the use of painting tools that emulate natural media styles. Sometimes referred to as "Natural Media".
  • 3D: The artist uses 3D modeling and rendering software to essentially sculpt in virtual space. This method also makes use of all of the other methods.
vector drawing
Vector Drawing

The artist uses vector drawing software and creates the image totally in the virtual environment. This makes use of shapes which are outlined and can be filled with various colors and patterns. This tends to produce a harder edged or graphic look.

algorithmic fractals

This is art produced exclusively by mathematical manipulations. This is the so-called "computer generated" art. The art here lies in the invention of the mathematical formulas themselves and the way the programs are written to take advantage of the display capabilities of the hardware. The art also lies in the creative intentions and subsequent selections of the artist/mathematician.

what do digital artists do
What do Digital Artists Do?

JD Jarvis, author of Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists.

Digital Artists do, simply, what centuries of artists have always done by exploring and adopting a culture's new technology toward the making of a personal imagery. In doing so the culture is also reflected in the artwork as is the artist's personal vision. As our culture becomes increasingly digitized, digital artists are leading the way in exploring and defining this new culture.


Digital Artists use a medium that is nearly immaterial, that being binary information which describes the color and brightness of each individual pixel on a computer screen. Taken as a whole an image consisting of pure light is the feedback devise that tells an artist what is being made and simultaneously stored on the computer's hard drive.


Digital Artists employ many types of user interfaces that correspond to the wide variety of brushes, lenses or other tools that traditional artist use to shape their materials. Rather than manipulating digital code directly as math, these electronic brushes and tools allow an artist to translate hand motions, cutting and pasting, and what were formerly chemical dark room techniques into the mathematical changes that effect the arrangement of screen pixels and create a picture.


Digital Artists, in addition to using tools that are similar to traditional drawing, painting and photographic manipulation tools, have special sets of image creation tools called plug-ins or filters that manipulate the screen image in ways never before possible with traditional tools or media. These tools give digital art an often distinctive and exciting new look and pose real challenges to the artists who explore these new avenues.


Digital Art is created and stored in a non-material form on the computer's memory systems and must be made physical, usually in the form of prints on paper or some other form of printmaking substrate. In addition, digital art may be exchanged and appreciated directly on a computer screen in gallery situations or simultaneously in every place on the globe with access to the web. Being immaterial has its advantages and with the advent of high quality digital printing techniques a very traditional long lasting print of this artwork can also be produced and marketed.


Digital Art is light pretending to be pigment, whereas traditional painting was pigment pretending to be light. Digital Art is the immaterial made material, which is to say that it is Art as we have always known it. Computers have not changed what we do, only the way in which we do it.


Nicola Simpson argues that the validity of using a computer as a means for the creation of art has been criticized, with some arguing that computers can turn equations into ‘art' with a few clicks of the mouse and that it has become almost impossible to apply an objective criteria of quality to computer art because it is assumed to be essentially a homogenizing tool. Simpson writes:

“ It all comes down to one question: is one method of art-making better than another? The necessity for artists to develop drawing skills has been, and still is, given much emphasis; as a result of this, there is still a stigma attached to something which passes itself off as art, but has not been drawn, painted, or chiseled by hand. Digital art has provided the most volatile fuel for such a debate in contemporary society, largely as it is considered to be a ‘low' form of art, and in the eyes of today's traditional artists, keyboard and monitor are simply not sufficient to be a ‘real' artist's tools.”

digital art lesson plan ideas
Digital Art Lesson Plan Ideas
mrs glazer e students online portfolios on carbonmade com
Mrs. Glazer'e students online portfolios on
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