Uses of Digital Art for Physical Realworld Arts and Crafts

The use of digital art technologies to create tangible physical artwork is varied and will likely continue to develop into more uses.

Christine Garner
Jan 30 · 3 min read

It isn’t always appreciated how useful digital mediums are for creating physical forms of art, but I will briefly describe some common uses here. This is just a general overview but I hope it is interesting.

Prints, Stickers and Card Making

Artists have been turning their digital art files into real world prints, cards and stickers for many years now. This is a very accessible way to get your digital art into the real world whether it is in raster or vector format.

3D Paper Models / Foldable Material and Plushies

The use of 3D software can be employed to make printable patterns for 3D paper models or fabric toys. UV Unwrapping is a handy skill to learn if you would like to try this out, or there are specialist software and add-ons available to help with the process.

Relevant Links


Specialist software can help turn artwork and designs into embroidery files which can then be sewn out on electronic embroidery machines.

Cross Stitch

There is software you can use to convert or create digital art which can then be printed out as cross stitch patterns.

E-Dies for Appliqué and Crafting

Vectorised and scanned line artwork can be converted into formats compatible with cutting machines such as the Brother Scan and Cut which can then be used on a wide variety of materials.

Stamp Making

You can get your digital designs made into rubber stamps.

Pin Badges

Pin badges and enamel badges can be made from digital artwork.

CNC and Lazer machines

Many industries and artists employ the use of digital art files in creating work on CNC Milling machines, and lazer cutting machines. CNC machines can create 3D carvings and lazer machines generally create flatter cut out designs.

3D Printing

3D artists can get their work into the real world with the use of 3D printers.

Materials range from polymer based hybrids (plastic mixed with other materials), ceramics, food, paper and lost wax casting.

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Digital Art for Experimentation and Presentation

3D, drawings and designs are commonly used in the landscape and architectural industries. Many traditional painters now do sketches and colour tests digitally before committing paint to canvas.

David Hockney for example, discovered that using digital art helped his creative process.

The Other Side of the Coin

Physical art and design can also be turned into digital art.

Book Reading List

Here is a selection of relevant books I found looking on Amazon.

3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling: Bridgette Mongeon

Digital Handmade: Craftsmanship in the New Industrial Revolution: Lucy Johnston

Digital Crafts: Industrial Technologies for Applied Artists and Designer Makers: Ann Marie Shillito

3D Printing for Artists, Designers and Makers: Stephen Hoskins

Crafting Textiles in the Digital Age: Faith Kane and Kerry Walton Nithikul Nimkulrat

Digital Modelmaking: Laser Cutting, 3D Printing and Reverse Engineering: Helen Lansdown

The Art Squirrel

A publication for people interested in Illustration and digital painting.

Christine Garner

Written by

I’m a character designer working from Shropshire, UK. I write about topics that interest me and I think might help others.

The Art Squirrel

A publication for people interested in Illustration and digital painting.

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