There is a lot of confusion on the art that is produced called digital art. There are many ways in which it can be created. But there is a distinction between Digital drawing/painting and photo manipulation. I have spent this year in learning the techniques of drawing digitally and painting. The 2 definitions are from Wikipedia
In digital editing, photographs are usually taken with a digital camera and input directly into a computer. Transparencies, negatives or printed photographs may also be digitized using a scanner, or images may be obtained from stock photography databases. With the advent of computers, graphics tablets, and digital cameras, the term image editing encompasses everything that can be done to a photo, whether in a darkroom or on a computer. Photo manipulation is often much more explicit than subtle alterations to color balance or contrast and may involve overlaying a head onto a different body or changing a sign’s text, for examples. Image editing software can be used to apply effects and warp an image until the desired result is achieved. The resulting image may have little or no resemblance to the photo (or photos in the case of compositing) from which it originated. Today, photo manipulation is widely accepted as an art form.
Digital Drawing/Painting –
Apart from separation of carriers, the main difference between digital and traditional painting is the non-linear process. That is, an artist can often arrange his painting in layers that can be edited independently. Also, the ability to undo and redo strokes create nonlinear intervals in the creative process. Digital painting is also different in how it employs the techniques and study of traditional painting because of the surface differences and the wider variety of tools. The digital artist has at his disposal several tools not available to the traditional painter. Some of these include: a virtual palette consisting of millions of colors, (however these colors are ultimately limited by the capabilities of screen and printing technologies, whilst traditional forms of painting deal with pigment as a tangible material) almost any size canvas or media, and the ability to take back mistakes, as well as erasers, pencils, spray cans, brushes, combs, and a variety of 2D and 3D effect tools. A graphics tablet and a stylus allows the artist to work with precise hand movements simulating a real pen and drawing surface, while other programms (Adobe Eazel) are developed for fingerpainting directly on the screen. Both tablets and touch screens can be pressure-sensitive, allowing the artist to vary the intensity of the chosen media on the screen. There are tablets with over two thousand different levels of pressure sensitivity.
I don’t do photo manipulation by taking a photo and painting on top of it or apply filter to change it to make it look like a painting.
I do digital painting everything is drawn the same as if I was drawing on paper from observation. I use references in my art and draw from these references. It still takes the skill of drawing and learning to paint as it does on canvas just with a different media. Below is an example of digitally sketching.