Colorists who use digital coloring books for adults are being unfairly criticized.
Digital colorists are getting a bad rap in online coloring communities. For one reason or another, a large part of the community feels that coloring apps are somehow less legitimate than physical coloring books. I've seen digital colorists called "cheaters" online, and the fact of the matter is, that's simply not true. Almost all the skills that go into coloring a physical page come into play when you're coloring on your phone or on your computer.
Arguments Against Coloring Apps
A huge portion of the coloring community is focused on coloring techniques. Artists who can masterfully blend and shade with colored pencils and markers receive endless praise on Instagram and in Facebook groups. Traditional art techniques take a lot of experience to master. They also take a lot of time and focus to execute correctly. When these techniques are done well, all that time and effort is recognized, and admirers are quick to heap on the praise.
But knowing how to use a colored pencil is not the only skill that goes into creating an amazing finished coloring page. Color theory is just as important (if not more so) in creating a visually-striking piece of art. You could post an absolutely perfect brown-to-brown blend online, and you would be lucky to get any attention at all. Post a rougher work with a carefully-crafted color scheme instead, and watch the flood of likes roll in.
The coloring page itself also plays a role in how others will react to your work. The detailed, intricate pages from the most famous coloring artists always get a good amount of attention because they are very intensive to color. Less complicated pages are seen as "easier", and the coloring community does not seem to be as impressed when they see one of these pages after completion.
So what is it that the online coloring community really respects? Is it just the time and effort that goes into traditional coloring that the online community respects? Clearly not! Rather, it's a combination of all the various aspects of artistic knowledge that really impresses colorists. Perfect coloring techniques, a calculated color scheme, and a well-designed coloring page all play a role in getting positive feedback and respect from others online.
Appreciating Coloring Apps For What They Are
If someone is using a coloring app or coloring with Photoshop, they are not demonstrating mastery of traditional coloring techniques. But that doesn't mean that their work is any less legitimate. They are simply putting more emphasis on color selection, contrast, and all the artistic knowledge that makes up color theory. Knowing how to create an impressive color scheme is almost more science than art, and it takes a serious amount of knowledge and focus. Next time you see a digital coloring page posted online, keep that in mind. You will begin to get a whole new appreciation for the skills that digital colorists display.
We all know that traditional coloring techniques take time to get right. There are a lot of colorists out there who love the craft, but don't have hours to spend on a single coloring page. Sometimes it's nice to work through a page in fifteen minutes instead of fifteen hours. Digital colorists shouldn't be shamed or punished because they want to get involved in the community but can't devote the same amount of time as traditional colorists.
In addition to time, the quality of colored pencils plays a huge role in perfecting blends and shades. As every colorist knows, premium colored pencils aren't cheap. Are we really going to ridicule our fellow artists because they may not be able to afford anything more than a $1 coloring application? That's pretty messed up.
How Can you Help?
The simplest way to fix this problem is to encourage the digital colorists you see online. Knowing what you now know, you should be able to recognize good digital coloring techniques. Using that knowledge, you can provide relevant feedback that doesn't make the artist feel less-valued than other members of the community.
When you see others criticize digital artists, try and step in. Don't attack the critic, but rather try and educate them. Show them this post, and if they truly respect the coloring craft, they will realize that they are in the wrong.
The one thing I love most about the coloring community is its inclusiveness. If we start excluding new members who genuinely want to interact with us, we are putting the first nail in the coloring coffin. So get out there and let every type of colorist know that they are a valued member of our tight-knit community!