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If you follow this blog then you’ll know that I’m an artsy kind of guy but I work in the field of technology. My job pays the bills, but my passion for art inspires me. Some people find it quite strange when they meet me and talk to me about art then find out that I work in software. For most people art and technology are polar opposites but they are not for me. There have always been connections between art and technology. In some-ways technology has helped to define art for as long as there has been art. Originally paintings were crude stick figures drawn in ochre on a cave wall. The development of canvasses and different paint pigments allowed artists to push the limits of what they were capable of and they used the new technology to express themselves in ways they were unable to before. The relationship between the two has carried on throughout history with artists taking advantage of brighter pigments, tools to create sculptures, cameras, video, screen printing and a host of other technological breakthroughs.

One of the more recent developments is digital art. That is to say artwork that has been created entirely on computer or tablet, not just artwork that has been scanned and modified in a computer. There are some who scorn this new medium but as I mentioned in the first paragraph, artists have always used new technology to push the boundaries of what they are capable of creating and this is what we can see in the digital art world with incredible pieces being created, from amazingly photo-realistic art to super-enhanced abstract works.

I’ve been experimenting with digital works myself of late. I bought a Wacom tablet and stylus which is the interface used by digital artist to draw on the computer. It is a digital sheet of paper and a stylus that communicates with the computer to let it know the position of your strokes and even how hard you are pressing down. I found a website which has great deals on Wacom Tablets for sale. Wacom are the industry leaders in art tablets and easily the best available. They have great resolution and accuracy which is essential if you want to avoid frustration.

There are other options – you can get stylus’ that work directly on your tablet (such as an iPad) which is great if you want to be a bit more mobile and draw and paint on the go. I’m planning on painting at home though so the Wacom tablet is perfect for me.

I have been investigating the best software packages now that I have the gear side of things setup and thought I’d share with you what I’ve found about the best software – both apps and for PC - to use when digitally painting. Here are some of the best.

Adobe Photoshop is probably the most widely used piece of software for digital art. It has been through so many iterations and is incredibly versatile with a wide range of features that have been highly polished over the years. You can set the shape and size of the brushes you use, change the way colours blend together and make use of the highly detail layer and masks system to get effects that would take days to create in the real world. As the name suggests it doubles as a photo-editing suite and has a vast range of effects, lighting and colour options to really give added depth and subtlety to your work. Knowing this package is a skill that takes many years to master and can also help find you gainful employment in many industries.

Coral Painter is a dedicated painting software that has won many awards in the field of digital art. It has a great set of tools that you can use to finesse your paintings allowing you to make work that goes far beyond what you can achieve in the physical world. Check out this review for more details of the possibilities with this software - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2494909,00.asp

Procreate is a fantastic app for iPad that has won Apple awards for its technical and artistic flair. You can sketch and draw with a vast amount of pencils, pastels, inks and charcoals to suit your tastes. Its unique Streamline technology helps stabilise your strokes for added accuracy and you can make use of the layer system and change colours or add filters. It also allows you to export as PSD files which means you can tweak in Photoshop when you upload to your computer. It has a great perspective system too which allows you to automatically add different perspective points to your work.

So there you have three of the best. If you haven’t tried digital painting before I think it is well worth making the effort to learn the software and see what amazing results you can get. I often wonder what some of the great artists like Gaudi would have made if this technology was available in their time.