What is Digital Painting?

Puppy, painting, digital, bitmap

Photoshop = Bitmap

Photoshop makes Bitmap art. So does your camera. Think of Bitmap art as being like a tiled patio with a great image or design. In graphics, the patio is your monitor. The tiles are your monitor's pixels. Each pixel is given a specific color value and position based on information, a map, in the image file. Your brain puts all those tiny dots together to form a beautiful color image in a process resembling "Impressionism" from the 19th century. That "bitmap file" has A LOT of information in it. hence, a bitmap image file tends to be large.


Pixels are part of the monitor not your image. They always remain the same size. So if you make a bitmap smaller, the computer "discards" information from the file. Enlargement means it must "Add" information. And that's a problem. Computers must guess based on math since they have no idea what the image is. To your computer, your beautiful puppy pic is just a map of tile color and location. The guessing process is called "dithering." Sometimes it works, usually not so much.

If you zoom in on any bitmap image you will see tiles of very specific color. Look at the inset in the puppy pic, notice the way the tiles change in shade to approximate a smooth color and yet still, are very specific colors.

Why Bitmap?

Because they are gorgeous. It's how modern photographs are rendered into digital files. JPEGS, TIFF and RAW, these files capture color, shading, and subtlety in line and expression. You can manipulate, correct, modify and create an image, just as you would with a canvas and brush. Our puppy is a photo that has been cleaned up (meaning some distracting stuff removed from the picture, the wicker was extended across the back and seat, and the whole image was processed with the Photoshop Oil Paint filter.

Digital Bitmap art has all the advantages, and some disadvantages, offered by traditional painting. On the up-side, allowing enough time and budget, the sky is the limit. You can modify an existing image or envision a new world. Additionally bitmap is clean, you won't get Cadmium Red all over everything, and it's easier to change or edit than traditional paint. Just be sure you have your bitmap art made to it's largest end use.

Who uses Bitmap?

Photographers, touch-up artists, color correction, Fine Art, Illustrators, Publishers, Comics, Graphic Novels, Film Matting, and most everybody on Instagram, Pintrest and Facebook.