Workspace: The Arc of Digital Drawing ✍️
(2022) Personal work
Though traditional drawing techniques are far from obsolete, digital drawing has seen a marked rise in the last decade. Aside from spurring the demand for software, this is contributing to the market growth of Digital Drawing Tablets. Standing at over 710 million USD globally in 2021, the market value is predicted to rise at a compound annual rate of over 7.5% going into 2028. While global growth is also forecast for the traditional art supplies market, those who draw digitally need not be overly concerned with physical supplies. This shift in approach is widely accepted as part of contemporary illustration.
With physical media, visual textures often reveal how an image is made and reproduced. Roy Lichtenstein foregrounded this in his Ben Day paintings. Working digitally, a draftsman can make images that are void of textures, or emulate the concrete traits that are otherwise absent. What is more, digital methods have replaced physical originals with files that can be edited ad infinitum. This is a marked advantage whenever commercial assignments are subject to review.
Digital drawing replicates mark-making by way of software algorithms. To paraphrase digital culture theorist, Lev Manovich, the simulation of a medium means to simulate its tools and interfaces. As more than one medium is present in user software, the affordances of digital workspaces expand what draftsmen can do. This industry-standard software is available to professional and amateur users alike. This has removed a major barrier to entry in a global workforce that is being flattened by access to broadband.
In spite of this transition, what have remained consistent are the competences that predict a successful drawing, which can be applied to paper or digital. When depicting pictorial subjects, a draftsman’s technique bears upon the fundamentals of volume, composition, light, and colour, to mention a few. The means chosen to prepare images are, in essence, part of the cumulative know-how of a draftsman’s repertoire.