I love getting my hands and face smudged with pastel dust just as much as my mum hates it. I have an original 2015 iPad Pro that has served me very well over the years but has now developed a screen discoloration issue that makes it unsuitable for illustrating on. As if I needed any more incentive to keep drawing traditionally and put off learning the more complicated digital tools.
Yet there is something about the final 10% of finishing a piece that makes me switch over to the iPad. Photographs taken with my phone camera are obviously pretty low quality, even if my phone (a Google Pixel) has one of the best smartphone cameras. The final touches on Procreate on my iPad include recolouring the paper background so that it’s not the ghastly grey that comes up in even the best lit photos. Sometimes, however, I go a bit further and make use of Procreate’s excellent brushes to paint over some errors and make a few minor changes.
For this portrait I probably I went overboard in Procreate. Despite the annoying screen issue on my iPad, I used the Oil Brush to blend and shape the silhouette of this particular viking. Using an opaque white, I was able to cut into the sketch and go a little wild, smearing the details. As a result the traditional paper sketch is technically fairly sound but otherwise boring, stylistically mediocre and lacking drama. In an age where a photograph can capture details with minimal human effort, photorealism or hyperrealism becomes a redundant art practice except for those who pursue it out of pure love of the process (Then, of course, it is a valid and respectable skill to develop). As twenty first century artists we must necessarily grapple with how much to take from our predecessors and what to leave behind, where to innovate and where to honour tradition. This becomes a particularly vital struggle when we have so many digital tools available to us now.