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From Pigment to Pixels

The evolution of the tools we now use in digital art, is a fascinating story. Isn’t it? We’ve gone from the tedious process of sourcing, crushing, grinding, and mixing paint pigments by hand, to a digital brush capable of issuing endless amounts of “paint” from its tip with just a flick of the wrist. Over the past several thousand years, we’ve gone from depicting the wonders of our world on the walls of caves or carved stone, to now depicting our experiences on virtual canvases that can be beamed instantaneously to the other side of the world, on waves of light. To say we’ve come far would be a gross understatement.

We’ve gone from the tedious process of sourcing, crushing, grinding, and mixing paint pigments by hand, to a digital brush capable of issuing endless amounts of “paint” from its tip with just a flick of the wrist.

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iron oxides

Our ancestors cultivated the first pigments over 40, 000 years ago. During that time, most of these first pigments were some combination of organic matter (such as soil and animal fat), to various earthy minerals such as chalk and iron oxides. Fast forward to the 1950’s- around the time and advent of modern computing as we know it –and we begin seeing the first mechanical devices and analogue computers coming online. Human creations that would ultimately lay the foundations to digital art as we know it.

By the 1970’s, the reign of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was fast upon us, and pretty soon we saw artists adopting computers as the next creative tool for expression. Over the decade that followed, artist explored and experimented with computers in ways unimagined just a decade or two before. The 80s saw a massive explosion of digital art with widespread adoption by more people and companies in the use of videos games, films and TV. So it seemed inevitable that the age of Photoshop and Illustrator took over the scene and became the standards for digital art creation in the 90s.

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It’s amazing to think how our tools have evolved over all these years (and how we have developed an entire history around visual communication along the way). Even so, we still find ourselves on the precipice of yet another evolution of artistic expression. Through the still burgeoning fields of AR and VR, artist will soon be able to blur the distinction between what is real and the virtual. Moreover- in this fast approaching future, artists will not be bound by the tools they use, but by extent of their imagination.

Until then, make sure to check out our upcoming pixel filled classes for the Summer term.

2D Classes -Foundation-Environments-Characters

3D Classes -Characters-Environments

CGWorkshops -Rigging-Matte Painting-FX-Animation-Compositing-Lighting

Manny Fragelus

The author Manny Fragelus