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What is Digital Art? 8 Popular Types of Art to do on Your Computer!

When I first dove into the realm of digital art, I had no idea what I was getting into! As in physical art, there are SO MANY different types or styles that one could use when approaching it. There are so many different categories and subcategories that it is hard to narrow it down to a handful of categories.

This post will give you a very short introduction to some of the most prominent types of digital art and then you can do some further research on your favorite type. Also, in the coming weeks I’ll be putting out posts with some popular and up and coming artists who favor one digital art type over the other.


Fractal or Algorithmic Art

What is Digital Art? Patty Talavera
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These two digital art styles are grouped together because they rely on mathematical equations and patterns to create images and scenes.

Fractals can be produced in both 2D and 3D and it represents some of the earliest forms of artificial intelligence. By putting specific algorithms into code, artists/mathematicians can create artistic scenes in a fraction of the time. It relies on infinite patterns and calculations and can be seen in animations, still images, and other media.

Algorithmic art is related to fractal art. It relies on the computer to create the entire artwork and it doesn’t require an artist at all. Because it uses common algorithms, it can be digitally resized without pixelation issues. The artist or algorist creates the algorithm and the computer does the rest.

You can argue that since the artists is so far removed from these forms of art that they aren’t art at all, but whether you agree or disagree, it is becoming increasingly popular and you see the presence of both fractal and algorithmic art in not only visual art but also other forms of art such as music.


Pixel Art

What is Digital Art? Circumflex
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This type of digital art may bring to your mind the good old beloved Mario and Zelda video games. Being created in “8-bit”, they were understandably blocky and clunky looking. But things have evolved quite a bit since the 1980s. Pixel art is the digital creation of art at the pixel level. Thus, it is easy to animate and many artists create gifs with their artwork.


Digital Photography
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Perhaps you separate digital art from photography, but photography is- and always will be- a form of art! Digital Photos are moved to a computer after they have been taken, and from there, the possibilities are endless. From simple editing techniques to photo manipulation, digital photography is an easy gateway to creating all kinds of digital art.

Photo Painting

What is Digital Art? Alexis Franklin
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Using a photo as a starting point, an artist using this technique often tries to create photo-realism. The artist usually layers paint over an image. Don’t confuse this type of digital art with digital photo editing, which is the process of using simple editing techniques such as the cloning stamp or the curve functions to enhance a photo.


Digital Collage

What is Digital Art? Stephen Mcmennamy
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A digital collage, as done in traditional collage, is created by combining various images, paints, and/or techniques into one image. Often, collage artists desire to distort reality or create unrealistic correlations. On a more practical level, collage is also done in mood boarding and fashion blogging to show how a specific idea will look upon completion.

2D and 3D Digital Painting

What is Digital Art? Lynn Chen
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What is digital painting? You can think of digital painting as a sister to traditional painting. With 2D painting, you are using digital brushes that mimic traditional media styles (like paint, chalk, pencil, etc.). 3D painting, on the other hand, is more like sculpting than painting. One of the great appeals of digital painting is that you have an unlimited amount of “undos”. Of course, this could also be the digital artist’s downfall… Just like a traditional painting, it is hard to decide when the thing is actually finished!

You may wonder the difference between 2D digital painting and photo painting, and it is true that they are very similar and may overlap a little bit. Just remember that photo painting tends to be a bit more on the realistic style and pretty much always has a visual photo reference, while digital painting is not limited by the "realistic" aspect.

This is not to be confused with 2D and 3D computer graphics where an artist may use some of the same techniques, but graphics are much more related to graphic designers or virtual realities and movie production than digital painting is.


Vector Art

What is Digital Art? Tracie Ching
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If you know anything about vector graphics, you know that they can be resized as many times as needed without losing resolution quality. Because of this, vector art is often preferred in graphic design, when designing ads or logos for example. However, a digital artist may decide to work in the realm of vectors because of how easy it is to change color or add or remove detail.

Integrated Art or Mixed Media

What is Digital Art? Sean Charmatz
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You may be more familiar with the term mixed media than integrated art, but either way you say it, it involves using more than one media in an artwork. Perhaps you combine different techniques or maybe you use both realistic photos and painting styles. Often, the result is very akin to a digital collage.


Again, this is a very simplified list of different forms of digital art. If one of them interests you, go do a bit more research! Or, if you are feeling brave, create your own digital art. If you do, post it on facebook and use the #DigitalArtTeacher. I’d love to see it!!!

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