A Brief History of Digital Art

December 2 is the day to congratulate all 2D artists on their professional holiday. The date was chosen not by chance, but due to a lucky consonance: December 2 -> 2D Day. In honor of this unofficial but familiar holiday we decided to talk about how graphic editors appeared and evolved.

Now digital art is rightly considered a full-fledged source of art. Works can be created, sold and bought. By the way, there is already the first pan-European digital art fair edaf.art.

When did the first division into bitmap and vector graphics occur?

Twenty-one years later, in 1984, MacPaint, the program for the first Macintosh computer, appeared. It was quite simple, both in terms of features and interface. Curiously enough, it is easy for a modern artist to understand the MacPaint tools, since the icons have hardly changed to this day.

The core of MacPaint is over 8,000 lines of code in Pascal and Assembler. Now that’s very little, especially for a graphics editor. For example, modern versions of Adobe PS have over 120 million lines of code. But back then, the standards were different.

MacPaint users could only work in one window and with one picture. You couldn’t change the size or position of the window or move the toolbars. Other Mac programs already knew how to do these things, so all of these restrictions hurt MacPaint badly. This restriction was removed in version 2.0.

In MacPaint, however, it was already possible to move an image, even without the flicker effect! To do this, the program used two separate clipboards: one held the pixels of the current state, and the other held the pixels of the previous state. The ability to go back to the previous state of the image gave digital artists their favorite function: undoing the last action.

Instead of the usual zoom, the program used the FatBits function: with it you could enlarge a small area of the canvas 8 times and change the position of individual pixels.

For the Mac, there was not only a raster editor, but also a vector one. It was called MacDraw. The program was mainly used to create diagrams, flowcharts, and drawings. Thanks to the integration with the text editor, it was possible to add marks to drawings, which was a very necessary function.

His Majesty Adobe Photoshop

Today, Adobe Photoshop is the leader in the market of graphic editors, familiar even to those who are far from drawing and design. This program is used by many digital artists, but its creators never imagined that it would be possible to draw in it from start to finish.

When did graphic editors introduce layers?

The advent of more powerful processors expanded the capabilities of graphics editors, and artists were able to work with images of greater resolution. In the past, the standard image size was 640×480 pixels. If the image was enlarged, the computer would simply freeze.

The revolution in digital painting was the introduction of layers in Photoshop 3.0, which made it possible to combine different parts of an image.

The origins of layer technology lie in printing and animation. Transparent film was used to arrange elements on an editing table or to draw the movements of characters. In a graphic editor they work on a similar principle.

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