I still love to get out real paints, pencils, inks, etc., but I've found computers to be incredibly helpful with my artwork. These are three of the greatest benefits of working digitally:
#1 Time Saver! When I sketched the little guy above, I didn't know what color he would be. I scanned the sketch into a vector program (FlexiExpert in this case) and started experimenting with color fills. Sketching, scanning, coloring, and uploading to this blog took less than 15 minutes. This is a quick way to see what direction I want to take.
#2 Ultimate Eraser Some artists argue that computers steal all the "happy accidents" that happen while working with traditional media. I can agree with that, but I've had plenty of "happy accidents" using the computer as well. I have had "Unhappy accidents" using traditional paints, inks, etc. that have completely ruined a piece (sometimes 3 or 4 hours into a project!). I am a fan of the undo button.
#3 Easy Access to multiple projects. I have a fairly large library of original sketches and paintings in my computer. They are at all different levels of completion. Having most of my work digitized allows me to access it for things like online portfolios, this blog, and hundreds of other digital applications. I can pull them into various programs as reference or as an actual part of a project. I often use my original abstract paintings to give my digital work a more organic/handmade look. For example, I think the little guy above looks good in red. I looked through my digital library of abstracts for some red areas and then combine them with the sketch using the mask tool. From this point, I could open one or more of these little guys into Photoshop or Painter and add some shadows and highlights or play around with some of the other great tools and tricks in those programs. Sometimes it's the subtlest variation that makes a piece work. Computers allow me to experiment without destroying the piece in the process.