I was playing around with some of the new stuff inside of Photoshop CS5 and came across one of the new tools that they have included called the mixer brush. This is a great new tool that allows you to take a photo and use different settings to create a painting from it. As I started to think about it more and more, I realized that this tool could be used for some underhanded intentions.
Someone with little or no real artistic skill could take someone else’s photo, change it a little, and then use the mixer brush to create a fantastic digital painting of someone else’s work. With the mixer brush, you can change the settings to get different painting results. You can leave in or remove as much detail as you want, and honestly it would be incredibly difficult to prove that someone didn’t actually paint this inside of Photoshop. How could you prove it? This gets into the issue of Copyright and upholding the regulations that go with it. Is it really considered copyright infringement if a person takes someone else’s work and creates a new artwork based off of it? According to the law, if the new piece is different enough and has enough originality in look or concept, it can be considered a new art piece.
On top of all of this, it would be extremely difficult to look at a digital painting created using the mixer brush and prove that it originated from any certain photo, if the person was careful enough. Another thing that bothers me is that the artists out there that have honed their skills and are truly remarkable artists that create their work from scratch are going to suffer from misuse of this tool, because it takes fairly little or no effort to create a decent looking digital painting with the mixer brush, simply by playing with the settings and not going overboard with them. Anyone could essentially take a Wacom Tablet, and a photo of their subject, and create a dramatic and interesting digital painting or illustration. Is it just me, or does this tool seem to take all of the work and skill out of digital painting? Or is it a matter of being able to take this tool and create the right look? To me, it seems that this tool switches the digital painting game from who can properly render a new piece of artwork, to who can take a photo and the right settings to create a certain look.
Some people might actually use this tool to create some amazing things from scratch, but a lot of people will use it to make digital painters fade into the background. They won’t completely go away, but you will have to create truly extraordinary and innovative work to stand out from those who can simply manipulate a photo.
Do you consider the Mixer Brush cheating? Or is that dependent on how it is used?