“Cheating” in art… well, that’s a complex argument.
First of all, one must understand if digital art itself isn’t a form of cheating if compared to traditional art. For this reason one can use as many excuses as he pleases (like : " I want to spare money, I want to save the rainforest, I want to feel modern, etc… " )
Second, once it feels morally ok to produce digital art, there would be still picky people trying to bring you down and considering, for example, the use of 3d background as form of “cheating”…
It’s up to you, some people don’t blame themselves not even if they steal shutterstock cliparts just to achieve some kind of result (ego, money, whatever…)
Again, what is “cheating” ? Is art itself a way to cheat on perception, anatomy, etc… ?
If I copy another artist, am I “cheating” ? Same goes for “inspiration” and “fan-art”.
If I copy natural elements onto a canvas, is it “cheating” ?
If I use the most common ways of illustration to portray a character in a specific way, to make him look bad or good, nice or ugly… am I “cheating” on the viewer’s interpretation ?
If I play a game on easy difficulty… is it “cheating” ?
If I play a bugged or glitched game using cheats (just development tools, actually) to skip an impossible or badly developed part of the game… is it “cheating” ?
Too broad argument, to solve it up: if you like it and it doesn’t harm anybody, well you can feel morally safe ( I guess). Just don’t focus too much on this argument, for the risk of becoming cynical.
To me, art is already a form of cheat.
With art one can cheat on reality itself, one can cheat on other people’s mind (and this “science” is called " semiology / semiotics " ), one can cheat on nature, anatomy, science, whatever.
It’s about creating illusions. Taht’s why people aim at becoming “pro’s” so they could master any aspect of representation and make people say “wow!”
That “Wow!” is the wonder. Yeah, people want to become monsters, lol (“monstrum”, latin, means “something that generates stupor”).
If this isn’t dishonest by itself, I wonder what it is.
Yet, we need it, welcome to this paradox.
You, for example, make furry art. That’s a cheat on nature because beings like those don’t exist. So you’re actually fooling yourself… but it’s good anyway because, you would direct that sexual desire toward a real-life subject and become an animal-sexual-predator.
Don’t get me wrong, this is psychology.
It’s the same reason why drawing violent stuff restrains one from committing violent actions.
Art is a technical purge, where technically everything should be admitted.
“Oh no I’ve said too much” lol