My introduction to digital artforms.
Being an 80's baby I was surprisingly young when I was introduced to the idea of making computer generated images. When I was 3 my father was invited to be a guest lecturer at a university in America for about 6 months, I am not sure where, he was invited to so many different places and I was so young on this occasion. My father was quite famous in his field he studied engineering science, had a doctorate and was a well known researcher in fluid mechanics.
(link to his bio is as follows if your interested, https://www.science.org.au/fellowship/fellows/biographical-memoirs/anthony-edward-perry-1937%E2%80%932001#5)
I remember very little of this trip, a few snippets here and there. I believe we were staying in Palo Alto a lot of the time. One night we attended a scientific exhibition where all kinds of new technology and gadgets were on display. One in particular stands out strongly in my memory. There was a lady sitting infront of a colour screen, in front of her instead of a keyboard was what I remember looking like a pad with circles on it, each circle was a different colour, there was about 8 colours in total. She touched a colour then drew on the screen with her finger and a line appeared resembling what she had drawn with her finger in the colour she had selected. I was blown away and thought this was fantastic! I never forgot about how amazing I thought it was to be able to draw straight on a screen. I was in love with this concept and waited many years for it to become a reality.
Owing to my father's work he would bring home a variety of digital images including digitised portraits of himself he had them printed on tshirts, they looked so pixelated and cool, like an 8 bit photo! He brought home a very early 'magic eye' picture, it was black and white and if you squinted just right it showed a lady behind a bar and there was a lot of detail including the bottles on the shelf and a clock on the wall. He showed me fractal programs that were so colourful and inspiring. I enjoyed seeing his scientific drawings done free hand then seeing the computer generated version later.
We had our first computer in the late 80's, it was a macintosh plus, they were upgrading at my father's work and basically throwing them away ( crazy when you think about how much they would be worth today!) They were a pretty basic black and white display home pc. I loved spending hours creating pictures on it in paint.
Near the end of my highschool years digital art technology as we know it was only beginning to emerge. I decided in my last year to change high schools to one that offered a more comprehensive digital art course and still offered a variety of other visual art disciplines. The course they offered was called "computer graphics art and design", they had an 'iMac' lab with over 30 computers. The teacher for this course was an easy going, cool, hippie artist. As long as I had finished the course work he let me use the remaining time in my lesson to create whatever I wanted using the facilities including access to photoshop and to the high res colour laser printer in the classroom. I scanned in many drawings including some of my fiery faerie warriors, experimented way using photoshop with great delight. This was also a time where I got great feedback and ideas from my awesome teacher.
Photo shop was something I always played around with when I could get my hands on it. Being way too expensive to buy, after some searching I soon learned of other programs that were cheaper or free but offered some of the same perks of photoshop. The first of these programs I used was GIMP. Now I often turn to FireAlpaca on my mac. They are both pretty good.
Recent years and now
Now I create a vast variety of digital art works in many styles. I will cover few different styles in this post but leave some for another time.
There are quite a lot of advantages to drawing and painting digitally so here are my top five:
UNDO -This is definitely my number one favorite tool or function, good old control Z. There is no undo in real time painting what's done is done. Make a mistake and no worries undo and try again.
DRYING TIME- You don't have to wait in between stages of your artwork for paint, ink etc. to dry, you have total control with some software even offering the option of keeping your paint wet or workable.
LAYERS- having separate layers that you can move back and forth and manipulate separately has so many applications and has dramatically affected the course of how we create images for commercial graphic art, not to mention visual art in general. I suggest for those interested, to look up the history of how images were made in the past. The amount of work that went into the creation of images in the early years of the printing press was outstanding. It took many processes and great technical skills to construct an image that would take a hour using modern means.
COLLABORATION -Artists of all disciplines can digitise their work and share it worldwide. This has led to global collaborations. This is a fantastic and growing world of ideas and creativity opening many doors of opportunity to artists who can work on creative projects that are based in other countries or join up with artists they admire and create beautiful collaborative masterpieces.
ART STUDIO IN YOUR POCKET - Most software for drawing offers a range of tools and materials that you might not ever even own all at once let alone be able to carry around with you. Just setting up an airbrush and getting your paint mixed and the machine calibrated can take a while.
So theres my top five, I wont deny there's nothing like the real thing but I do enjoy having so many options at my fingertips.
Two years ago my mother upgraded her 'iPad' so I inherited her old one. I love drawing and painting with it. There are a huge number of fantastic programs to try. Below Ill discuss the ones I use the most currently. I will share a few pictures and some timelapse video. The stylus I currently use is a 'paper 53' pencil. It's not the best but I find it quite responsive and comfortable to hold. I believe this stylus is no longer supported so I wouldn't necessarily suggest buying one but they are very cheap. The 'paper 53' app is pretty fun to play with but I find it a bit limited, however it presents itself really beautifully and responds well with the stylus.
- Procreate -
I have briefly discussed procreate in my previous post on photography. I use it for a lot of different projects, I think it's very versatile. It offers a large brush/pen library and it is possible to import your own or download other artists brushes online. Included are some great texture and effect brushes. Customising your own pallets and saving them for different projects is also very easy. The interface is really good, I was able to familiarize myself with where everything was quite quickly. There is an option for adding perspective lines which comes in quite handy. The ability to have a lot of layers is awesome, I am not sure of the limit as I have never reached it. Endless undo is fantastic. The smudge tool is versatile, customisable and awesome fun to play with, I use this a lot on certain pieces. You can organise your work really easily, I love using it as my digital sketchbook! Best of all it has timelapse recording which records at pretty high quality. One type of artwork I have been creating recently is 'painting over photos. Now I don't mean simply tracing them. I import them and use no layers , I just draw and smudge right onto the photo. I guess in a way the photo I start with is like a wet workable canvas waiting for me to manipulate it!
Below are two videos of me using Procreate the first shows some of my sketches while the second shows my process of painting over photos. For more detail I suggest watching full screen if possible
- Sketch club-
This is another great drawing app, it offers a huge library of brushes uploaded by users. There is a social media side to it that I haven't explored ever but there is a lot of support online if you have any 'how to' questions or questions about performance. You can have 64 layers. The user interface is similar to to Procreate. Copying layers from one app to another is very easy. It's very reasonably priced and quite easy to get used to. My favorite feature is that you can export as transparent png. So as long as you drop out the opacity of bottom layer to zero you can save your other layer as a transparency. This is fantastic for making clip art, web graphics etc. I use the transparencies over my photographs to get different effects. I use the Transparent layers like stamps. Sometimes I enlarge them and erase away section. Most often I will use 3 or 4 different transparencies over one image.
Above is an example of a transparency on the left and a finished photo on the right, I would have used about 3 or 4 different transparencies on this photo.
A drawing I made in sketch club
So this is a fantastic and addictive app, even if you never use the social media aspect of it. There isn't a better in your pocket editor for photography that I know of that's such a great price, its free. There are in app purchases but you don't need them to use the editor, the purchases are stickers, frames etc. If you are interested in stickers you still won't have to pull out your wallet straight away there are a few free packs and the app allows you to make your own and use other users custom stickers made by other users. Daily and weekly competitions are great for when you have a creative block and need some direction or want to give yourself a challenge. I love the social media side of this app, you can share your work with other artist and get feedback and create friendships with other artists or users. If you wish you can make your photos available for others to edit or have fun editing other people's work. There's a lot of skills you can learn playing around with this program. The app offers a lot of pre loaded masks and effects if your not sure where to start, I have found myself using them less in particular the magic filters as I want to create a more unique style. Having said that, they are really great fun to play around with to get your creative energy charged and flowing.
Recently I have been using PicsArt to import my transparencies in to my private library then use the import photo option to place them over the photo I have chosen to work with. I like that each transparency I introduce does not become its own layer, once I've placed it, blended it and pressed apply, it's there, the decision is made. You can't change your mind later, I like this because it challenges me to make careful decisions. I know the image is finished when it conveys the emotions I want, reflecting the state of mind I was in when I took the photo. Most of these types of pieces are dealing with my traumatic past and how it still affects my ability to function to this day. I suffer from PTSD and my symptoms include extreme anxiety and depression, I find the anxiety effects my daily living the most. Pictured below are some pieces from the dealing with trauma genre.
I don't use the PicsArt app for drawing much, I don't really like the interface or how it responds, but it is useful occasionally. A tip if you plan to use the drawing functions: it launches better from the PicsArt app as opposed to the separate drawing app that is available called PicsArt Colour.
I want to quickly mention Adobe Capture app again its free. I have been using this very recently to make vectors and patterns, I have been importing them in to 'PicsArt' with some really interesting results. This app has great potential and I am sure with more experimenting I am going to discover some more uses for it. I will discuss it more thoroughly in a future post.
Quick note on two lesser used drawing apps on my ipad.
Pen & Ink- Offers a large range of tools but I don't use it that often, If i remember correctly it was free but I had to buy extra pencils and other tools. I still think its pretty good and perhaps I will find uses for it down the track. Here's a painting I made with Pen & Ink.
I really love the interface of this app. How it presents itself as a virtual art box looks really beautiful and makes it fun to use, there's a few different paper options but by far I love it's simplicity. It's totally worth a play with, doing this post has reminded me how much I like using it so Ill be having a drawing session on Paintbox latter tonight for sure. Here's a sketch I made using Painbox.
I will wind it up with a final piece of digital art, this is from a collaborative series that is ongoing. I am currently working on at least 5 more images. I am also working on 3 more series each with a unique feel and technique. The work is in close collaboration with another digital artist who has an interesting background and skill set. I am super excited about these pieces. I am not going to give much away on how it was created yet, I think its best to wait for the projects we are currently working on to be closer to completion and for my collaborator to obtain their own steemit account. This piece took many hours and was made possible with the use of some of the apps I have mentioned in this post. It's final purpose will be as a stand alone piece of artwork as well as possible game content. I am really looking forward to being able to share more of these types of artworks with you.
Please excuse time between posts my father in law has been quite ill and I have spent most of my free time, now that he is out of hospital, getting him settled back in at home and making sure he's taking care of himself.
Until next time
love each other and peaceout