A foray back into Digital & A personal story about why I stopped it 2 years ago.

Irfan Yang
Sep 5, 2016 · 5 min read

Recently, I’ve been working on a few things. Among these are:

  1. Working together with my girlfriend on an E-zine to promote local artists and events
  2. Game character concepts for a client
  3. Getting an Artbook out
  4. Meeting and networking with folks
  5. Discovering new mediums
  6. A new Artpiece

So I’m gonna talk a bit about my latest work.

Power (work-in-progress) 2016. Ink on paper, Digital painting.

The lines were done in traditional ink as I always do. I intended this to be another marker piece but I had the impulse to try this out in digital instead. This would have been the first painting I’ve done in digital for about 2 years now. That’s a long time!

I used to create digital pieces all the time back in school and after graduation. Like many others in my Animation module, I wanted to become a Concept Artist. You can read all about it here. I guess this sentiment is shared with lots of artists starting out. We want to paint the sexy stuff and do work for the sexy companies.

So why did I stop digital painting? Well, that has a lot to do with a personal story.

A scope on my drawing journey, first.

I have been drawing ever since I held a pencil. I drew my first comics when I was 8 years old. My teacher even let me paste them up on the class notice board for my classmates and other teachers to read. My teachers always supported me; told me to keep drawing. I then drew my first full-rendered comic in ink when I was 14. I skipped the chance to take my GCEs and went directly into tertiary education to specialize in media, where creativity was the staple.

I guess the point I’m driving across is that I’ve been drawing for a very long time. But I never considered myself Talented. I just see myself as one of the few kids that continued where most other kids put down the crayons. I’m not an advocate for the Talent theory; to me it’s really just a whole lot of inclination.

Because everything requires 10,000 hours to get good at, whether you’re “talented” or not.

The point of me saying this is that I consider myself at least good enough to stand somewhere. This is a pragmatic opinion, not a boast. You have to know where you stand in the game. So if you’re good, you have to know it and also know how good you are exactly, neither exaggerated nor undervalued.

When I started digital painting in Animation school, even as a beginner I was bad at it. I was one of those people who really sucked at it. Even now I still think I’m really bad at digital; it’s been one of my cruxes. After painting a while, I started to get a bit more momentum on it.

Earlier Digital Works (2013)

One of the biggest challenges for me have always been Colour choices. And you need to know your colours well to do at least decent Digital work, I feel.

A lot of people I knew kind of hinted at me that my digital stuff wasn’t really working out. Lots of companies I brought my stuff to weren’t exactly impressed either. It was 2013 and the market had reached its zenith of saturation. Companies had no business hiring a young painter like me when they had so many other mature digital artists out there to pick from. I wouldn’t have picked me; I only went because I needed a job. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when someone I knew very dear to me basically said “it’s not my strength.”

So I caved in. I gave it up.

I don’t know if that was the right choice but I do know that I made visible strides only after I abandoned my stubborn attachment to digital painting. I also know about digital painting that instead of freeing me up, it was holding me back.

I always liked the act of drawing up concepts and feeling the pencil on paper create bodies and entities. Digital made me focus on the fleshing-out and rendering portion. I kept having to focus on too many things simultaneously to make the final product good that I sacrificed the one thing I liked about drawing the most.

I turned what should’ve been a fruitful learning journey into a cycle of debilitation. I did not want drawing to become a chore to impress and wow. It has to be fun for me or else I’ll lose interest quickly.

I envy those artists who can have the discipline and fortitude to stick at it and get real good at it. An oversimplification, but these guys have what it takes to be good painters.

A point of comfort I tell myself is that I studied in one of the hardest art forms out there: Animation. I draw seriously and I consciously and soberly made this my career, however painful or rewarding. I know what it’s like to plunge my hands into fire to grab something I want. If they can do it, so can I.

I guess if there’s anything I do regret in my journey, it’s that I didn’t give digital enough of a chance. I should’ve explored its potential further and although I could always develop my colour sense and other weaknesses, I didn’t get that muscle memory and hand-eye coordination trained up.

Now that I’ve worked on my marker pieces more, I’ve been told that my colour choices have improved significantly. I don’t know. I don’t have the intuition for it to judge for myself. I can only throw what I have up and see the responses.

In any case, this is another part of my journey of which is still ongoing. Welcome back to a medium I once feared.

Thank you all for being part of this, with me, now.

Irfan Yang

Written by

Illustration, Art, Freelance, Minimalism. Gluten-Free. Check me out at www.irfanyang.com

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade