Thursday, July 15, 2010

Understanding Digital Art - Questions & Answers

To be successful as an artist, the general public must be able to value the craftsmanship of my work. The purpose of this Q&A article is to help people who are unfamiliar with digital art, understand how to accept and appreciate this new medium. The questions are based on dialog I have had with artists and art collectors.

Q: How do you create your digital artwork?

A: I illustrate by hand, using a digital pen and tablet. Software allows me to create a painting, using the computer screen as my canvas. The software simulates traditional mediums like chalk, oil, and watercolor. It gives me the freedom to mix mediums, and create elaborate compositions in my own unique style.

Watch my live painting demonstration video on YouTube

Q: Is digital a legitimate medium?
A: That's a silly question. -- There are a lot of people who fear what they don't yet understand. Is art produced with oil on canvas any more legitimate than art made with chalk on paper? Art is not defined by a medium, it is defined by the artist.

I may not be using a physical pigment while creating my work, but I am drawing on my lifetime of art education and talent for illustration. I'm using traditional painting techniques to develop my illustrations. I'm sketching, painting, smudging, erasing, blending, and tinting. I'm using color and value. I'm painting still-life, or just from my imagination.

Q: How long does it take you to finish a digital painting?
A: On average, I spend anywhere from 10 to 30 hours on a single painting, depending on how detailed the composition is.

Q: How is digital art viewed?
A: I believe that digital art is best viewed on a large digital LED screen. However, I also make high quality prints of my work on canvas and paper.

Much like the evolution of music, art is becoming more portable. With the Internet, I can sell and exhibit my art anywhere in the World. Collectors of my art can display my illustrations on their TV, phone, and computer.

Q: If your work can be replicated infinitely, does it lose value?
A: No, it does not lose value. I often sell my originals, including the copyrights to my paintings. Are the lithograph prints from Rembrandt's etchings any less valuable because they can be mass produced? It's great to be able to sell and print digital reproductions. I can even license my artwork for limited commercial use where my artwork gains additional exposure, more than if I were solely dependent on exhibiting and selling though a physical gallery.

Q: If making digital art is more convenient for you, does that make it cheating?
A: Not at all. We have evolved as a species to use technology to make things easier.
In this modern age, it's quite difficult to make a living as a traditional artist. I make a successful living as an illustrator because I can produce art in a shorter time frame, which results in more affordable pricing and consistent sales. There is a high demand for digital art and digital artists. I'm simply evolving along with the art form.

Because the medium is so new, I'm encouraged to pioneer my own techniques. It is an additional challenge to use a digital medium to produce illustrations which resemble traditional paintings.

Q: Do you ever create art without a computer?
A: Yes. I often draw with ink pens in my sketchbook.
I've spent my entire life illustrating. I prefer to create art on the computer because I enjoy the process more. Because I'm more comfortable, I'm more productive, and my work is more organized.

Q: Where can I buy your digital art?

A: Follow the link below to visit my online store, where you can purchase posters, canvas prints and official merchandise featuring my artwork.

Now that you know how much time, talent, and passion I put into creating my art, I hope you can appreciate the unique qualities which make digital art special.

If you enjoyed this article, please show your support by:

1. Liking me on Facebook

2. Following Me on Twitter

3. Purchasing posters, canvas prints and other merchandise
from my Zazzle Store

4. Hiring me for your graphic design or illustration project. (Logos, commissioned artwork, portraits + more.)

Aaron Rutten, Seattle Illustrator & Graphic Designer | |

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Digital Art Tutorial: How to Paint Clouds with Corel Painter

Painting Clouds With Corel Painter 11
by Aaron Rutten

Watch the live video tutorial on YouTube
17:00 HD video tutorial recorded in real-time with live audio narration by the artist.

Copyright 2010 Aaron Rutten. All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Surrealist Sketchbook II by Aaron Rutten

Surrealist Sketchbook II
by Aaron Rutten

Ink illustrations from 2008

Copyright 2008-2010 Aaron Rutten. All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How To License & Sell Your Artwork & Photography As Stock Imagery

With websites such as dreamstime and shutterstock, anyone is capable of turning a hard drive full of digital images into into extra income. Something you once thought of as just a hobby could actually be earning you royalties, and your work could be viewed by people all over the world. -- Maybe even featured in a prestigious publication.

The following is an overview of how you can get started as a Stock Photographer.

1. Build A Portfolio

You probably already have a good collection of images to pick from. Try to find your best 5 images. Almost every Stock Agency will ask you to submit samples to be approved as a Photographer.

The two main factors of passing the approval process are QUALITY and VIABILITY.

Good quality images are 8+ megapixel, hi-res jpeg, tiff or Camera Raw files. (The bigger the better.) You should apply some basic touch up editing with Photoshop or photo editing software.

Bad quality images are blurry/out of focus, noisy/grainy/pixelated, under/overexposed and have poor composition. Saving a jpeg/.jpg file as a jpeg multiple times will degrade a file. Always save your photos as TIFF, PNG, PSD, Camera RAW, or your camera's native format.

Viability is a bit more subjective, but is basically defined as an image's potential for commercial use based on content. Almost any image could be considered viable if put into a proper context, so it's up to you to substantiate your concept with composition, title, description and keywords.

Some things are too viable and will likely get rejected. -- Like non-contextual photos of pets, clouds or close ups of eyeballs.

Also be aware of copyright infringement. -- Don't let anything like logos, artwork, sculptures etc into your composition or you may not be able to sell the image.
If you take photos of people, you will have to get a signed model release to use their likeness.

Once you have selected your top 5 images, you can start applying for agencies.

2. Stock Image Agencies

There are tons of Stock Image websites to choose from. I recommend these top 7 ranked by personal preference and number of sales:


I've found most of the other agencies out there don't produce enough sales to justify maintaining an account. Unless you want to, don't agree to be exclusive to any one agency. -- You can license your work anywhere you want.

3. Image Approval

Each agency has different standards, but generally if your images are good quality and commercially viable, you should have no trouble getting approved.

If your images are rejected, try a different agency. If you're still getting rejected, you may need to build a better portfolio and try again.

4. Upload Your Images

Once an agency has approved your work, upload your top 5 images to start with, and then add the rest later once you are familiar with the submission process.
Each time you submit an image, it will have to be approved by the agency. This takes 4-5 days on average.

When uploading images, you will need to provide information about each image.
A good description and keywords are almost more important than image viability.

An accurate description allows you to put your image into a context. Keywords will help people find your image in a search.

For example, a photo of a leaf could be marketed as nature, recycling, landscaping, etc... Get creative and try to imagine who would use that image and for what purpose.

If you have Adobe Bridge or a way to enter meta data into your file, add your description and keywords directly to the file before uploading. This will save you from having to re-type the information multiple times when submitting to several agencies.

Once all of your images are submitted, hang tight and wait for the agency to approve your work. This is a good time to fill out your personal profile and check out all of the features the agency has to offer.

You will want to look for the options which specify how each image can be licensed. I suggest taking advantage of every option available except Agency EXCLUSIVITY. With dreamstime, you can even set a price to sell your image, copyright and all.

5. Make Money

Once your images are approved and online, you should begin to see downloads.
The quantity and quality of images you have available will dictate how often your work gets purchased. I suggest adding as many images as possible and make sure you keyword them well.

6. Increasing Sales

Here are some other tips for increasing the viability of your portfolio.
Start by looking at what other people are selling. Shutterstock has a page that shows you popular keyword searches and top images sold.

Consider why people need stock images. A pizza shop just opened down the street, maybe they need a photo of a cheese pizza for their menu.

Go out and shoot photography. Concentrate on things that make for viable imagery.

Upload frequently. Most agencies feature newly uploaded work on the main page or in a specialized search query.

7. Final Notes

You should now be well on your way to collecting royalties from your image collection. It may take you a few months to accumulate enough money to get paid out via check or PayPal, but it will happen. You can accelerate the process by being active and following the tips in this article.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me for advice.
Once your portfolio is up and running, send me a link so I can check out your work.

Here are links to two of my portfolios:

Aaron Rutten | |

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dionysus DIGITAL ART Painting Tutorial

Digital Art Tutorial: Overview Of The Digital Painting Process

Dionysus (Feb 2010)

1. Initial sketch.

2. Defining overlapping layers with flat colors.

3. Fleshing out 3D shapes and designating colors in isolation.

4. Adding the background basics to establish shading and environment colors.

5. Adding hilights and shadows to the background.

6. Adding more elements to the composition.

7. Fleshing out the remaining basic elements.

8. Adding details and accessories to each element.

9. Rendering the final lighting and fine details.

10. Adding the final touches to the composition.

11. Enhancing the environment with tinting, depth of field and vignetting.

12. Finished version with final touch ups applied.

Copyright 2010 Aaron Rutten. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Featured Artwork from 2009 by AARON RUTTEN

The Greatest Hits of 2009

Thousand Arm Buddha


Son Of Magritte

The Satyr

Drowning In Sleep

Tea Party
(Published In Drink Me Magazine, San Francisco)

A Textbook Surrealist Landscape

Escape Route
(Awarded as the 5 Millionth image featured on

Rabbit Hole
(Published In Drink Me Magazine, San Francisco)


Copyright 2008-2010 Aaron Rutten

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jan 2010 Surrealist Artwork - Digital Paintings by Aaron Rutten


"Pablo 2"


Copyright 2009-2010 Aaron Rutten. All Rights Reserved.

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