In simple terms, a digital painting is a picture painted in a computer, utilising graphics programs such as Photoshop.
It should be stressed that it is not simply the application of built in program utilities. Within most image programs there are facilities that, by the simple press of a button, a photograph is automatically manipulated to mimic a work of art. This is not digital painting.
It is the use of brush and pen tools within the program, controlled by the mouse or a tablet, to literally draw or paint an image on screen. It is not that dissimilar to the way an artist would use conventional pencils, brushes, paints, paper or canvas.
The fundamental difference is that with a digital painting, there is no original at the end of the process, just a digital file. Nevertheless, this file can be printed on paper or canvas. If total exclusivity is required, it can be printed only once and that print, in effect, becomes the original art work. However, if more than one copy is required, obviously, it is no problem.
The process has been likened to certain traditional print making techniques. Etchings, engravings and lithographs are processes whereby either a metal plate- in the case of etchings or engravings - or a stone tablet - in the case of lithography - is utilised by the artist to create an image. Prints can then be taken from these plates or tablets but they themselves are not really practical as works of art. They are simply a means to an end.
For me it is a significantly quicker process than traditional painting. This, therefore, is reflected in the cost.
The technique has been highlighted and popularised by the British artist, David Hockney, in recent years