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Thursday, February 04, 2010

FFA DEATHMATCH: Digital vs Watercolor vs Oil

Its Battle Royal and the rules are anything goes. You are the judge.


Which of these do you like the most?

Digital



Watercolor



Oil


Note: Both the traditional pieces are being displayed as they were scanned in, with no digital effects, magic filters, or cheat codes in.

81 comments:

  1. All beautiful, but I think oil edges it...

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  2. Great stuff!

    I think you get the best read with the digital one. The contrast there seems the best to me, and it has a nice saturation pop.

    I personally like the watercolor one and it's palette, but I think it lacks the contrast/focus of the digital one.

    Dig the oil one. good job. I think the texture of it is nice, but i think you lose some of the definition and it looks like your values have darkened up...especially on the robot/smoke. That's where I find the digital one more successful.

    awesome comparison. thanks for taking us on the ride with ya!

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  3. While the contrast is better on the oil and digital, to me, I think watercolor has more personality.

    It would be interesting to see all three in the same palette but I realize that's not possible.

    Great job on all three!!

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  4. I'm all for traditional media so my first knee jerk reaction is to vote for the oil, but in this case I think that the mechanical nature of the robot lends itself a bit more to the crispness of the digital version.
    Thanks for doing this I've been curious to see your results.

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  5. If you were to ask me without seeing the pieces, I would say I prefer the the human hand, the variations and flaws and brushstrokes of an oil painting or the controlled "accidents" of a watercolor. There's something beautiful about the simplicity of brush and color. However, viewing the three examples I am going to have to choose the digital. Fortunately the presence of brush strokes and hand hewn linework give a very touchable, human feeling to the piece. The base artwork is beautifully enhanced by the digital work whereas many times an artist will overwhelm the hand process with digital bells and whistles. You've achieved a near perfect balance. Kudos.

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  6. Hi Justin,

    I'd say you need a fourth option - a digitally completed oil painting.

    Also, there is a temptation to try to like the traditional media, I think. You should have just asked which was batter, without telling which was which, or what criteria we should be using, methinks.

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  7. I like the lighting details on the digital best, but the smoke details in the oil. They're all beautifully executed, with their own strengths, but which one is best for the feeling the piece is trying to convey? I think the watercolor has the least impressive details, but its pallete to me seems to best convey the gritty mood.

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  8. I swithered, I really did, because they all have their own strengths. The oil has a really dark, night-time atmosphere. The watercolours are great: the perfect evocation of a grey, miserable, run-down, crime-ridden urban environment. But I'm going to choose the digital, because I love the lighting - it draws the eye in, and it points up the contrast between the tiny human leaping from the safety of the shadows towards the shiny, lethal, inhuman machine.

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  9. I love them all. It is hard to choose, but I do agree that the digital is more vibrant. Perhaps I can say it best that if I was to buy a print I would go for the digital.

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  10. I think that the digital has the best pop to it, definitely the digital.

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  11. Yeah, feelin' like digital has the most impact at a glance. While the texture of the oil piece is nice, it just doesn't jump out at me like the digital one does.

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  12. I have to agree with Wonders for Oyarsa's comment. You need to digitally enhance the oil. I love the strokes and variations in the brush work used in the oil painting, but miss the warmth in the smoldering rubble and smoke.

    The relationship between the crazy guy jumping down to assault the mech is slightly lessened in the oil as compared to the digital watercolour.Due mostly ,in my opinion to the over all cool colors surrounding him. Where as in the digital you have the warmer smoke that helps energize the Conflict between them. Granted, i know our crazy boy doesn't stand a chance going solo against the mech and this emotion is further driven by the color scheme, which is much bleaker in oils than the digital conterpart, which has a hint of hope for our crazy's effort. All that said you could probably warm the oil up with some wonderful glazing.

    Blah blah blah...

    Thanks for posting all of these. They truly are inspiring!

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  13. I've been following this piece since you first started it. I never thought I'd say this but I like the oil so much better. It has so much life and really drives home the idea of a David vs. Goliath story.

    But... I also think it would be cool if you combine the sharpness on the edges of the digital piece with the oil piece.

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  14. Hm, I love the textures in the oil one, but I think it's missing some of the great value range of the digital piece. I also really like the bits of orange in the digital one, so I'll have to go with that. :)

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  15. I was expecting to prefer the oil, but the digital gets my vote as the most effective illustration.

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  16. The watercolor seems a little soft for what is being conveyed in the picture, but on second thought it does have a little more grittiness as sirvalence pointed out. I like the digital for the contrast, but I have to go with the oil because the detail is beautiful.

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  17. They all look great, but I prefer the digital version. The colors grab me the most.

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  18. Nice to see them side by side like this. I like aspects of both the digital and the oil just as others have commented.

    I think with such a mixed bag for the reaction you should experiment with executing the piece mostly in digital, print it out large and mount it on panel, and finish it up in oils. That way, you can let the digital show through where it shows it's strength, such as in the mech character, and use oils for the more textural parts like the smoke, etc. Plus you will still have an original oil painting... which I think you could still call an oil painting since you will be covering the majority of the surface with paint. That is how this whole comparison started anyway, right? What to label the medium?

    I've tried this method and it tends to speed up the whole process as well.

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  19. They are all wonderful. But I would give the edge to the oil. It has more depth and a human element the others lack. It's more "art" than the others.

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  20. Love the light in the digital - the most attractive feature of the three for me. Contrasting light and dark. The other two seem dull by comparison.

    Also, there seems to be a spark being kicked up by a bullet hitting the mech's left shoulder, a nice touch absent from the other versions.

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  21. Digital. It seems to take the elements of the watercolor that I like, and that of the oil, to make one successful piece.

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  22. The contrast in the digital makes it edge out the oil for me.

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  23. Oil, hands down. Not only is it the most beautiful of the 3 (and all three are beautiful), it's the most eloquent. In terms of color dynamics it stands up to the digital piece, but it retains a sense of its organic origins. In other words, its more human. Translation: you win.

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  24. I went back and forth between all three for a long time trying to figure out what of each of them I liked. I like the looseness of the watercolor, and would have been interested in seeing a completed watercolor, rather than just an underpainting.

    I like the glowing details of the digital and the saturation, but overall depth to the piece is strongest with the oil. This is particularly noticeable when you see the three pieces in the small shots, rather than zoomed in. I'd like to see what a merging of the oil and digital would look like.

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  25. Digital. The contrast is similar to oil, but it was the tiny amounts of red, orange and yellow in the digital that did it for me. I wouldn't have been able to choose if the oil had those as well. Great job!

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  26. Digital for me.

    While I bow down to your traditional techniques - recreating that scene in oil in that way is amazing - the subject matter is suited to the crispness and polish of your digital hybrid.

    The watercolour version, on the other hand is so suited to a graphic novel it has me drooling at the prospect.

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  27. There is a texture with oil that is very difficult to capture with digital work. It is that touch of reality.

    My vote is by far for the oil.

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  28. There's a richness to the oil that is missing in the other two, although I wish the texture in the steam clouds behind the figure was less pronounced, sharpening the edges of the figure. I also would like to see you add the touches of orange and yellow sparks that you put in the digital piece.
    What a great experiment. Thank you for sharing your work. Such wonderful art.

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  29. You surprised me. I was so sure that your digital would just win out.

    The oils contrast is really good - a solid level. Watercolor feels a little washed out. The digital feels a little too dark. But the digital has the perfect balance of warm and cool tones. The subtle warm tones amongst all of the cold blues in your digital work is what makes it for me.

    Digital.

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  30. In this case I like the digital best because of the lovely contrast of the light. Very often though I prefer your watercolors. Either way, all of your artwork is great.

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  31. I think digital one is a more powerful image, but oil's piece supports a longer observation

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  32. again I say, the subject matter has dictated which medium works best in this case. I like 'em all, but the digital just works the best for this one. If I were a client commissioning a mech piece, I would go with the digital one.

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  33. First of all I have to say that I'm impressed of both pieces, I just keep learning from your work process every time you publish stuff like this.

    Even though I like the textures and brushstrokes in the oil painting, I prefer the digital version most.

    In the oil version, I really like how the background elements look out of focus and that adds depth to the whole scene. But colors look a bit flat, or it may be that you should have waited to the oil to dry-up a bit more. For me it just matter of working a couple of hours more on the details around the focal point.

    On the digital version the color scheme is richer and the details are sharper. All textures are more defined, metal looks like metal, smoke looks like smoke and so on.

    Great work!

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  34. Yeah each medium is fantastic in it's own way. But I think digital takes the cake.

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  35. Watercolor.

    I am probably biased but its great washed out tone really works for the piece.

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  36. I hate to tell you this man, but I think my vote is going for the Digital, don't get me wrong you got a great piece with the oil, but you still set the bar with the crispness and color you pulled off with the digital method you use.

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  37. There's something so pure about the watercolor. However, at the end of the day, being able to pull and push digitally the value and color begun in the watercolor is what puts the digital on top for me.

    Inspiring as always Justin!

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  38. Hey Justin,
    I have always liked your watercolor work, but I'm going to have to say digital won this time, with oils as a second place.
    The digital has those few sparks of color that draw in the eye around the ends of the gun barrels and the cockpit. The oils did well, but they just needed that something extra.
    I think the best thing about this one is the composition - the perspective is awesome!

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  39. Absolutely incredible display of process. Thanks. I like them all! The oil has some amazing texturing, but the digital looks like it was done overtop the watercolor so it has a nice feel too! So happy I found this blog.

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  40. Initially I wanted to go with the digital version because of the warm orange glow but the oil has so much more texture and personality. Oil it is!

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  41. Awesome job Justin! Personally I prefer the digital over the oil. i figured it was because it was lit more dramatically and had cleaner lines. however, the oil does have a more organic look to it that I do like, and the darker lighting does alter the mood a little. the watercolor is great for a sketch to final comparison page.

    speaking of which, are you planning on releasing any more books soon? keep up the fantastic work!

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  42. Digital.
    Better contrast and lighting.

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  43. This is quite frustrating actually. I really like the Oil version, it has a fantastic texture that is lacking on the digital piece (especially in the smoke and pillars), but I can't resist the color of the digital.

    If the Oil version had the warmer colors (from the fire, guns, sparks in the air) that make such a contrast in the digital version, it would get my vote hands down.

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  44. Have to say I like the ink/digi combo the best. The oil looks like a thicker-stroked rendition of the same thing, but lacks the punch of color that the digital has, somehow.

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  45. Great work!

    I am truly torn between the Oil and the Digital.

    I think for this whole exercise to be completely fair it would've been nice to see a digital piece done almost completely in the computer. I know that your favored process lately is to digitally enhance your watercolors, which is great, but in the end I think it gives an unfair advantage to the Digital.

    Basically, the digital has the best of both worlds. It has all of the free-hand expressiveness of the watercolor and all the vivid color and clarity of a digital painting.

    So, for me the digital wins. But, as many have uttered before me, if you went back into the oil and added the missing elements (bullets, ricochet, warmth, a few hard edges, and some smoke simplicity) I'm sure it would win hands down!

    As a side note, I don't think that guy has a chance! :)

    Thanks for sharing... always an inspiration.

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  46. At this point I can't really say much more than what others have said but I will add my 2 cents anyways. I really love some of the textures you get in the oil, especially in the foreground elements. What is missing (like everyone else said) is the contrast and warmth. Also- in your digital I think you have a greater variety of stroke and texture that you could have brought into your oil piece. Especially on the smoke. All in all, I don't think there's any really important difference in the mediums (oil vs. digital), but only how you handled certain elements in them which could have easily been brought over to the oil. Still- they are both stunning. Thanks for sharing the process!

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  47. Digital. I love the oil, but the digital has more life to it somehow.

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  48. I think they are all successful for different reasons. The watercolour offers a nice colour palette. I like the feel of it. It has an earthy atmosphere, which I think handles well with the concept of man vs. machine. even though the machine is very large, the man almost seems to have nature on his side, by your colour choice here. It also has a romantic feeling, which is very closely tied to the idea of machine and man. An epic battle.

    The oil I think is a nice colour study. I like this exploration of tone and contrast but I think it lacks the punch this piece needs, namely some saturated warms in the machine, contrasting hue rather than value. It reads better than the watercolour, however. But I like the atmosphere here better than both the watercoour and the digital piece. It has the contrast the watercolour is lacking, and carries a character of mark making the digital piece lacks. I think you should stick with the oil piece but punch up the warms, which may lead to some other changes, not sure, everything's relative.

    The digital one, though it reads better than the rest of them, seems almost too polished to me. I like them all, don't get me wrong, they are all successful;, I think. They tell the story clearly, yet I would like to see the final digital and watercolour piece translated into oils simply for the element of tactile inclusion for more character.

    Awesome process, very inspiring.

    J.

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  49. Hey man, first of all amazing work dude, i really like your work! Secondly i tried to get your email on your website but couldn't find it. Im interested in buying if still available the battle of the five armies. If its not available i would like a large print of it. The reason is that i am going to use it so i can get a tattoo of painting on my right arm. Just thought you would like to know that. :) ill be waiting for your reply :)

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  50. I can´t decide...! LOL

    well...WATERCOLORS.


    AMAZIN´

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  51. I agree with the general sentiment that they each have merit and it being difficult to choose. I would say that it would require a context to pick one over the other.

    For example, on the cover of an anthology of short stories, I would say the digital, but I would love to see internal illustrations in a novel all in the style of the watercolor - the faded, archaic feel contrasts nicely with the futuristic subject matter. But if I had to choose one to put in a large frame on my wall, it would be the oil.

    For me, the digital emphasizes the action, the watercolor emphasizes the setting, and the oil synthesizes the two.

    I would agree with Rick that tinges of red and orange in the oil would lend it an even greater strength.

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  52. i love lamp... I mean, er, digital.
    They all rock but I think the contrast is better in the digital piece, its a little more dramatic.

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  53. Okay...it's all been said by this point...what's the grand total? And when are you gonna post another masterpiece?

    Oh...and I vote for "digitally enhanced watercolor".

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  54. Hate to say it man, but my vote is still for the Digital stuff. Your oils are getting better and closer, but I feel that until you have that crisp value structure and color intensity you are able to get with the digital, its no competition. When I look at the two side by side, The first thing i think of is "is the mech. suit powered down in the oil painting?" For now I think its still a make or break situation.

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  55. oil.
    less plastic.
    more drama than just the watercolor.

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  56. oil.... no... oil with digi highlights, the highlights make the digi, but the oil holds the... touchy touch ... and then some.

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  57. Tremendous!! The Oil version it´s the best!

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  58. My answer would depend on what sort of use or project this was for. If I were buying to hang on my wall, oil. If I wanted interiors for an illustrated book, watercolor. If I wanted a cover for a book, digital.

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  59. Brilliant study :)

    I'm going to say digital this round!

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  60. I think i prefer the watercolor version.
    Although the oil and digital versions have more details.
    I like the watercolor tonality.

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  61. But all of them are great, as all of your works.

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  62. wonderful! i'm a sucker for the oil

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  63. All three are great. The watercolor has a lot of promise, but you have yet to push your values as you seem to do so readily in the other media. Getting your darks dark will give a lot more life and glow to the watercolor piece.

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  64. I think this is an unfair comparison. First, oils here, as many pointed out, aren't explored to their full potential (you could use more glazing, add some warm colors, and so on). Also, I compared the watercolor painting and the digital one side-by-side and it seems the watercolor piece was used as an underpainting for the digital one (you can even see the borders are there) - naturally, this borrows digital art the texture and some depth it lacks.

    Also, no color correction with your oil painting... it doesn't seem like a wise idea to me. Oil has a certain glare that distorts colors when scanned, and I'm sure the original oil piece is much brighter than the one you scanned.

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  65. I know this post is nearly a year old, but I wanted to add my two cents. The texture of the brush work in the oil is too good to pass up. It adds a grittiness to the work that enhances the feel of the setting. I feel that the digital feels too polished. It needs more. The watercolor has beautiful line work, in the mechanical robot, and better contrast than the oil. I hope you don't mind, but I played around with combining the watercolor and oil paintings in photoshop using blending modes and added a dodge/burn layer over the top for contrast adjustments, and I think it marries the two beautifully... I sent you an email with the result. What do you think?

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  66. Jory

    they all have a charm of there own. But Im a water color man. Plus oil paintings nice as they look have there durability problems. Half the artist doing mtg cards are working digital. The time difference is astounding. But no real painting to hold.

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  67. Oil are the number one. Digital is the number 2 but it is amizing

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