New adventures in digital painting: artists who are transforming brushworked art

Over the years, painting packages such as ArtRage and Corel Painter have developed into powerful tools and attracted a dedicated following

Marta Dahlig – Drama queen

Lush, playful and exaggeratedly detailed, Marta Dahlig’s images are in a category of their own. “I think of my characters as real people, and therefore I never strive for perfect looks. I like my women to have bigger noses or stronger jawlines and so on,” she says. This realism is enhanced by minutely detailed, almost photorealistic digital painting skills.

A self-taught artist, Marta has painted since early childhood. She discovered digital painting at 15: “Soon after, I got my first tablet. It didn’t take long for me to get truly sucked in.”


These days all her work is digital; she loves the freedom it gives her to experiment. “I have quite a messy workflow,” she admits. “In traditional painting, experimenting can be very pricey – if you put a brushstroke wrong or use the wrong colour, it takes a lot of effort to make up for your mistakes. Digital painting is extremely forgiving.”

Like many digital painters, Marta cherrypicks from Painter and Photoshop, appreciating Painter’s traditional media feel and Photoshop’s custom brushes. Her key tool is her Wacom Intuos4: “There are no substitutes for a tablet: a mouse does not offer pen-pressure sensitivity and a lack of any natural control. It’s a necessity.”

Marta admits digital painting isn’t perfect: “It makes you hardware- dependent,” she says, pointing to the cost of equipment. The other drawback is less tangible: “Digital art is less romantic than traditional art. Looking at the monitor simply does not offer you the same feeling as using real paints on a rough canvas.”

But she flourishes in the medium, creating art for computer games and book covers; her work has even been featured in the Corel X bundle. She says the key to success is refusing to be pigeonholed. “Staying within your comfort zone will block your artistic development. It’s important to always be aware of the box you are classified under and broaden your limits with new elements.”

Step by step: how Marta Dahlig composes a painting





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Alice Ross

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