Digital drawing. Digital painting. Same thing?
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Published: September 18, 2012
Hello, dA!

As you may be aware, we are in the process of revisiting gallery descriptions and making sure that all of our submissions categories make sense and are useful to you. We also want to make sure that categories are mutually exclusive so that people don't submit their deviations to the wrong galleries/categories by mistake. 

This process brought out a very interesting conversation among some members of the CV team. Specifically, we started talking about what, fundamentally, the difference between digital drawing and digital painting was. Does it depend on brush strokes? Is there some technique used on one but not the other? What sets the two apart?

 . . . OR, are they essentially the same thing? :XD:

Here's what the submission guidelines currently say about digital drawing and digital painting:

Digital Drawing: Digital art drawings created using computer-aided drawing tools or digital techniques.
Digital Painting: Digital art using digital painting & airbrushing techniques.

. . . not helpful, right?


What are your thoughts?


We're talking to all of you hard-core digital artists out there now. How do YOU see this discussion? Is there REALLY a difference between digital drawing and digital painting? If so, what is it? You can respond to this blog, of course, but you can also respond to our poll here.

Thanks guys! dA rocks. :dalove:


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Comments (150)
tamaraR's avatar
tamaraR| Digital Artist
Sometimes it's clear to me but other times it isn't. Is a drawing one with lines and a digital painting without? I'm not always sure. I think it would be better if it became one option.
Reply  ·  
Shink0u-chan's avatar
Shink0u-chan|Hobbyist General Artist
same thing...there are many who use tablets for digital paintings...i thought the definition for the two would be different.
Reply  ·  
Elixia-Dragmire's avatar
Elixia-Dragmire|Professional Digital Artist
oooooooook, gonna say this.

But when I submit a piece to a group as Digi Painting, it'll get rejected BUT if its digi drawing its not ... go figure?

Now a drawing i consider it as something that uses a dry media, pencil, pen, charcoal etc and a painting is something that uses a wet media, acrlyics, oils, watercolours.

now digitally this makes no sense!

I also lean towards Digi drawing primarliy because my images look static, whereas some digi paintings can look fliud. its a tedious link at best.

I think many devaints think of the catagories as tiered, such as digital pianting is better than digital drawing but that an assumation of mine.
Reply  ·  
Stygma's avatar
Stygma|Hobbyist General Artist
I am always confused about that! The problem is rarely use only one technic in a digital artwork. It's both drawing and painting. So, where should I put it? I'm trying to guess how much of painting vs drawing is shown to decide in wich category I will put the art.
Reply  ·  
ssceles's avatar
ssceles|Hobbyist Digital Artist
I already posted but as a follow-up:

I got told because "half" of my piece was line art, that it was a drawing. I don't consider one hour of lineart to be "half" my piece when I spend four hours painting afterward. The time it takes to draw typically takes up a fourth of my piece, more or less. I use watercolor, airbrush, and marker tools in SAI and I do not merely cell-shade. When I worked traditionally with watercolors, I'd ink it when I was done I was still praised for my painting ability.

Talk about mixed mediums. If could just stop at 'digital art' without having to choose drawing or painting I would.

But if its suddenly a painting instead of a drawing when I remove the lineart layer, when its the same coloring technique no matter what, that's just silly.
Reply  ·  
ThiaminaTenn's avatar
ThiaminaTenn| Digital Artist
For me, drawing means to use pencils for creating lines, hatchings, sketches (ok that's hard because you can also sketch with brushes >.< but I think most people sketch their character or whatever with a pencil in to their sketchbook's...)

And painting means (for me) to use brushes, playing around with colors, colorblending or even rough brushstrokes but not to create line for line, even though styles can change from hard to very smooth. (for example a landscape created with oils is obviously a painting and when you create something similar digitally you would also call it painting in my opinion)

But I think for many people it's both kinda the same - digital and tradtional :D
And sometimes it could be really hard to choose, because some people mix it strongly.
Reply  ·  
LurkingShadoww's avatar
I always thought they were the same thing O_O in fact, Since I upload a lot of Digital art over paper drawn.
Reply  ·  
Galtenoble's avatar
Galtenoble|Hobbyist General Artist
Digital drawing I usually think like lineart or cell shading. Digital painting makes me think like a painting, but done on computer.
Reply  ·  
deidaraart5's avatar
deidaraart5|Professional Digital Artist
In my opinion digital painting is layering up colors slowly to make smoother transitions (not necessarily realistically, but not cell shadig either). Digital paintings can have lineart, or be lineless, as it's the coloring itself that is the painting part. Digital drawing is more hard shading, no shading, lineart, or sketches.
Reply  ·  
Pedigri's avatar
Pedigri|Hobbyist General Artist
I thought the same thing about digital drawing.
Reply  ·  
phoenixleo's avatar
In the end, both are complex and can be simple.
Reply  ·  
DEIDATVM's avatar
Lineart is the difference.

Cel shading or no shading without lineart is kind of ambiguous.
Reply  ·  
DreameR-11's avatar
DreameR-11|Hobbyist Digital Artist
For the most part they are the same. For me personally, I usually make a digital drawing before I digitally paint it. So, the same
Reply  ·  
spirit-of-the-fire's avatar
I'm not a "hardcore" digital artist but...

I don't think there is a clear distinction between digital paintings and drawings. To me, it's always been mostly the style that determines which is which - i.e., anime and cartoons (e.g., [link] [link] [link]), to me, look like they should be in the "drawings" category because they seem to be more closely emulating traditional drawings, while realism and certain abstract styles (e.g., [link] [link] [link]) seem more appropriate in "paintings" because they seem to be more closely emulating traditional paintings. I know a lot of people categorize by technique, but that's often difficult to determine with digital art, so raises the risk of not actually knowing if something is a miscat or not.

But really, there is so much overlap, there are so many pieces that could easily fit into both categories, I don't think there's really a need for two separate galleries. Personally, I would be perfectly happy with a single gallery called "Digital Drawings and Paintings", and artists who feel the need to can specify which their work is in the comments.
Reply  ·  
FicticiousAnimation's avatar
FicticiousAnimation|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Digital painting is like with more paintbrush like brushes.
Digital drawing is like in mspaint or using more line-like brushes.
They are very different, but in my opinion they should be merged. After all, having two categories that are so similar that nobody can tell the difference cold confuse newcomers to the site. It could also result in having one of these categories becoming considerably more popular than the other, which means people would start gaming the system.
Reply  ·  
9573's avatar
9573|Hobbyist General Artist
it depends on the technique and tools you use. Outside of the computer you don't draw with brushes too. Neither do you paint with pencils.
Reply  ·  
cryo-draws's avatar
cryo-draws|Professional Digital Artist
What do we do about drawings with lineart AND painterly colouring? D8< This always confuses me.
Reply  ·  
catluvr2's avatar
catluvr2|Hobbyist General Artist
I'm leaning towards what everyone else has said, i.e. line art and such as drawings, shaded and no visible lines other than color changes being paintings.
Reply  ·  
DeeryDeerth's avatar
DeeryDeerth|Hobbyist General Artist
Honestly, I always viewed digital drawings as sketches, doodles and simple drawings with usual brushes that actually looks like digital art in overall.
As for digital paintings, I've always thought they're the primary way to imitating traditional art and making drawings look dynamic, soft, without any special lines. :)
Reply  ·  
Missvirginia's avatar
Missvirginia| Digital Artist
I think there's a difference because essentially digital art is mimicking traditional art, yes? It was first, so digital must be an imitation. In this case, when a digital artist is trying to mimic a drawing they would tend to do traditonally (graphite, colored pencils, etc.) that would be a digital drawing. However, when they are imitating a painting (say oil, watercolor, etc.) that is a painting. Simple. :nod:
Reply  ·  
pricechi's avatar
I think there are more deviations submitted to 'drawings' as compared to 'paintings', and I noticed half of the stuff in the painting category don't really belong there.

I used to put everything into the drawing category, but now I decide based on the methods I use. I always use a mix of painting and drawing methods so in the end it's all personal opinion. However I do not agree with digital painting being a strictly lineless thing as mentioned by some. Even on a single layer painting, lines can be used as guides or be used to define the painting. Drawings also need not have lineart.

... Could be a technique thing I guess. The current category definitions are good enough for me though!
Reply  ·  
FicticiousAnimation's avatar
FicticiousAnimation|Hobbyist Digital Artist
I agree, but what are the current category definitions? Are they separate or merged?
Reply  ·  
pricechi's avatar
Ah, I'm sorry! This is what I actually meant [link] =)
Reply  ·  
FicticiousAnimation's avatar
FicticiousAnimation|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh that makes perfect sense, thanks.
Yeah I agree with you.
Reply  ·  
anonymous's avatar
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