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Handmade Art or Digital Art … or Both?

For the longest time, I didn’t think digital art would be as enjoyable as using a pen and paintbrush in the traditional way of making artwork – and it took me a long time to try it.

Turns out your creativity is not at all limited with digital art, and it’s actually a lot of fun, especially when making digital collages.

I can’t say it ever will replace what I enjoy most – drawing illustrations in pencil; inking the image; and painting it with watercolors – but preparing this blog post for The Daily Artisan reminded me of the fun with technology-based artwork.

I’m going to spend some more time with digital art!

Today’s Post

Today’s post is NOT AT ALL going to be a lesson in digital art with the use of your computer and software (I use Photoshop). I wouldn’t be qualified to teach it anyway since what little I’ve done has been learned by trial and error. I will hit a few top notes about the process, but mostly this is an encouragement for you to try digital art if you haven’t before.

Some of my digital art collages are included in this post, along with a handful of digital elements for illustration purposes.

When I first tried my hand at this, I started where one always starts – a blank “canvas” (on the computer screen, mind you). And my first results were completely made with digital elements I brought into a collage design.

However, as I was converting some downloaded files to transparent backgrounds (PNG files), it occurred to me I also could convert some of my own handmade art into digital files and use it in a collage along with the other elements. I think this way is most enjoyable to me, but you can solely use downloaded digital art (some is free, and some is for purchase).

Brief “How To” Overview

So, for a brief, oh so brief, overview of how you digitally make these collages, here goes:

A Blank “Canvas”: Start with a blank “canvas” on your computer screen. (This one has a gray border just so it will show up in the blog post, but it wouldn’t actually be there.) It can be any shape or size you’d like. For this illustration, I used a square.

Your Story To Tell, and Colors: Next comes the fun part! Think about what color scheme you want to use, and also what story you want to tell with your collage. Truly, the sky’s the limit here … your imagination can run wild!

You could use only graphic elements, or you could add words/phrases to it, or really anything you want to do.

Digital Elements: Now you want to find digital elements that will go into your collage. When you start out, just play around putting things in and moving them around, as well as resizing them. You always can adjust your final look for the collage after you’ve tested things and decided what you like and what you don’t.

One of the most fun parts I’ve found with digital art is that I find myself truly going in with an open mind and letting the collages evolve. There’s no way I would think of some of the digital elements I end up using if I tried to sketch it out before starting.

It’s a very free and loose process – and that makes it a lot of fun!

Examples of Digital Elements (Purchased and Original): Here are some examples of digital elements you will see in my finished collages below.

The checkered background is because these are transparent files – I just took screenshots of them to show you in this blog post.

The beauty is that you can resize them, move them around, and pretty much do what you’d like with them in your collage.

On the second row, the last one is a girl I drew and colored with COPIC markers. She’s an example of being able to convert your original, handmade artwork into digital files to use with your digital art, as you’ll see in one of the below collages.

Group of Digital Elements: Some digital elements come separately, and others come as part of a group like this sheet of teacups. In this case, you simply extract what you want for your collage.

You’ll see the cupcakes in the group that I extracted (and which are shown above as stand-alone examples).

Example of Original Art Converted to a Digital File: Earlier this week, I posted about a lady in pink collage I made the traditional way (not digital). Although I didn’t need it, I converted the lady I drew and outfitted in a dress and jewels into a digital file – by scanning the original piece of art, and converting it to the digital file in Photoshop.

So, in other words, she is an original, tangible part of the collage I made – but she also could be used in a digital collage.

Here you’ll see a photograph of the original art on the left, and the scanned, digitally-converted lady on the right:

This really opens up the ways – and how many times – you can use your original art with different pieces and processes.

My Collages – Made Without Original Artwork

These first five digital collages were made solely from downloaded digital elements – in other words, I took a blank “canvas” and added a background; sometimes a frame; various digital elements and a phrase or title to tell the story; and anything else that felt like it belonged.

This truly is no-rules art in one of its best forms!

So, for example, let’s take the first one and dissect it:

It started as a white square with nothing on it. Next came the pink and white polka dot background. Then I added various elements individually such the lady, each flower, the clock, the arches, the phrase, and if you look very closely you’ll see a scattering of pink jewels which came last.

Think of it as layers because that’s exactly what it is in Photoshop!

My Collages – Made With Original Artwork

These final four digital collages were created as described for the ones above – with the exception of one thing.

I took an original illustration I drew and painted/colored by hand; scanned it; and converted it into a digital (PNG) file so I could use it in these digital collages (and any other things I wish).

Here are some additional details for each of the four. You’ll be able to match some of the collage parts to the individual digital elements shown earlier, and also see the original artwork in process.

“Live in the moment”


Note that the last picture is an example of how the original art converted to digital art can be used with other projects as well.

“Olivia loved visiting her friends in the little pink house in the woods”

“beauty in all ways”

For this one, I decided to keep the line art of the mother and daughter a simple black and white – instead of coloring it in for the digital collage. (I did put digital tiaras of roses on their heads!)

The ending photos, though, are some other ways I used the original art after I’d added color and converted them to digital files.

Do you enjoy digital art? Which do you prefer – the traditional ways or the technological ways? Be sure to comment below!

February 11, 2022



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