Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brad Bourgoyne's digital drawings

I learnt something new today; digital drawing.

Trying to draw with a mouse is extremely difficult and the results usually look a bit like drawings by Lowry, you know, rather bad but not bad on purpose. For a couple of years I have been thinking of getting a graphics pen and now I think I must.

I made a friend today with Brad Bourgoyne a sculptor from LA. I spotted a rather good remark he made on the sculpture Forum and so looked at his website; great stuff, I recommend a visit, link below. I especially like the fact that he draws and he has uploaded some very good drawings to his website. I noticed however that there were two categories, graphite drawings and digital drawings. This intrigued me. So I asked him what it was all about and this is his un-edited reply:

My digital drawings usually start on paper in graphite, which I then scan and re-work in Photoshop using a Wacom graphics pad and stylus (instead of a mouse). The big advantage of digital is the freedom to experiment, "save file" then "undo", and re-work compositions-- you can totally change a drawing or combine it with others with total control.

Sometimes I scan finished pencil drawings that I rework very little, sometimes they start as a series of simple sketches that I overlay and radically alter. Digitally, I have access to a larger range of effects and "brushes" --from "air brush" to "pencil"--than would be convenient to have handy physically. Also, I can push and pull the tactile qualities of the original scanned pencil marks, lightening or darkening, etc, maintaining the original qualities while emphasizing some other compositional aspect. Also, digital work can be printed as editioned Giclee pigment prints at any size, which can be very beautiful.The critical limitation of digital media is obvious--it doesn't have the physicality of real media. I don't like to try to simulate real media digitally (it’s never as interesting as the real thing), and there is something intuitive about a pencil on paper that cannot be replicated digitally-- not to mention the visual qualities of graphite.

So that's why I start with the real thing first, even if I end up playing with it digitally. And of course, there is also no unique original. And that’s why I ultimately prefer graphite on paper when I'm just drawing for myself.I call any drawing that has been manipulated in the computer a "digital drawing" just because it is simpler than they to distinguish all the degrees of manipulation.

So yes, there are advantages of digital over graphite, but also of graphite over digital. It’s just another media, with different possibilities, and I search for the strengths of each when I use them. I think of it as a new form of printmaking.

Here can be found an example of one of Brad’s digital drawings.

His video animation is very interesting too.

His website is at



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