Painting without Control +Z

When I started my career as a newspaper illustrator in 1997, I used tools like technical pen, photo inks and watercolours to create illustrations. For the more painted style, I would use poster colours and air-brush on paper.  I was introduced to Adobe Photoshop and it changed everything. Illustrations turned out so neat. Though the effect was different everyone loved it and so did I.  I would import my hand sketched art onto the photoshop canvas and went wild with the tools. I just loved the gradients. No more waiting for the paint to dry.

This love for digital art was enriched as I discovered the magic of Wacom. It’s been 8 years I started painting digitally with a pen tablet.  A pen tablet was like magic. It felt like I was actually drawing on the paper but just faster, cutting the scanning part out; no more cleaning up the scanned art.  Initially, I explored it for making cartoons and inking, and the fluidity and sharpness of lines produced with a tablet impressed me. Soon I started exploring its possibilities for digital painting. Corel Painter was the best thing I found for digital painting because it gave the real feel of natural media like pencil, watercolour, acrylics and oils.

Since then, I made the shift to being a digital artist using apps like Corel Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip studio paint, Rebelle and Affinity designer. I used to work with oil on canvas as well but it gradually took a back seat as I moved into animation with 3ds max, Maya, Flash, Anime Studio etc.

I love digital painting not just for the ease of quick results of painting but also because I could undo mistakes.

Recently, I was drawn to oil painting (pun intended) to keep the fine artist within me alive.  Maybe it was the birth of my 2nd daughter that inspired me to paint once again, and a session of oil painting taught me something about digital art that I want to share with fellow digital artists.

So one fine day, I took out my canvas and set up the easel with oil paints alongside my workstation table and… had a brush with the real world painting after 5 years. I worked on 3 canvases (about 3ft x4ft) for 2 -3 weeks and created some real art. I would switch between working on digital illustrations and painting on canvas in the same room. I took out time to take a break from digital art and dabble in oils… especially when I was waiting for the long renders.

This switching in between computer and canvas was rewarding in many ways.

My eyes got a chance to focus naturally and easily beyond the squinting confines of a 22-inch monitor. Next realization, which was obvious but of great impact, is there is no Command + Z in the real world.

A wrong stroke of the brush has to be painted over. More than once was I tempted to reach for command+ z to undo that wrong patch I painted, only to discover there was no keyboard attached to the canvas. (Yes, I was that silly for a fraction of second to look for Control Z or Command Z!)

Soon, I realized I was out of the virtual world and I laughed it off. But later I found that this new “limitation” developed my creative faculty as I started shortlisting and selecting my strokes and shades of colours before applying them to the canvas. I realised how spoilt we get the digital painting apps… that we don’t care about calculating our strokes or choice of hues because we know we can always undo. The power of “letting loose” in the digital world made me lose the mental maths of painting. (For all those who always make mistake with loose and lose…this is an opportunity to learn the difference. LOL)

When I returned from my easel to my monitor I found myself using less of ‘undoing’ while digitally painting because the brain had just got into the habit of planning more before making those strokes or patches. I think it made me more confident as an artist on a sub-conscious level and a better painter digitally.

About the Author:

Raman : Painting with Control+ZRaman Bhardwaj is an award-winning Freelance illustrator, animator, painter and Art critic. His portfolio can be viewed here. animated samples here, and he can be contacted via his PeoplePerHour profile, here

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Kelly Jane
Kelly Jane
Kelly is PeoplePerHour marketing expert. She has a wealth of experience in digital and social media marketing. As a freelancer, she has been committed in helping small businesses grow by offering them agile and result-driven marketing services.
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Nice article Raman! Being a creative design guy myself I understand your dilemmas completely. Very nicely worded.


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