Sunday, December 8, 2013

People often ask me about which digital art tools to use, and how to afford them. I use a combination of free open source programs along with expensive traditional programs. Here's a list of programs I use, and free or under $10-alternatives. Most of these are open source, although a few are freeware (free software) and cheap apps.

Tools I Use, and their free/cheap alternatives:

Adobe Photoshop CS

Type: Pixel art program.
Uses: Photo retouching, airbrushing, adding color to lineart, enhancements.
Complex Alternatives: Gimp, Gimpshop
Easy Alternatives: Paint.NET (Windows Only!)
App Alternatives (under $10, but not free): AutoDesk Sketchbook Pro (Android), LayerPaint (Android), Layers (iPad)
Note: Students qualify for educational discounts for Adobe products. Campus stores offer them, and often have year-end sales to sell off older technology. Students can also qualify for free copies by getting involved with student publications, working for a professor, or simply asking faculty members for their spare copies. Technology departments keep extra versions or access codes on hand, and many let you keep the software. Microsoft-compatible versions are harder to find than Mac-compatible ones.

Adobe Illustrator

Type: Vector art program
Uses: Lineart, logos, signs, font creation, art that is resized a lot
Complex Alternatives: Inkscape
Simple Alternative: Inkscape and Illustrator both have an "easy button" called "Auto Trace." It has a sub-settings menu to adjust the type of inking. Auto-Trace is very powerful feature that is useful for tracing lineart and handwritten letters (for authentic "hand written" font creation.)
Note: Students can get deep educational discounts for Adobe products. The student store is usually cheapest, especially when selling off older technology. Students may also qualify for free copies by getting involved with student publications, working for a professor, or simply asking faculty members for their spare copies. Many technology departments keep extra versions or access codes on hand, and let you keep the technology. Microsoft-compatible versions are harder to find than Mac-compatible ones.

Sculptris (free)

Type: 3D Modeling Computer Assisted Design (CAD) Program
Uses: "Hand sculpting" 3D content, organic shapes, jewelry, faces, "sketching out" a 3D project
Note: Sculptris does not "hollow" out your work. Since hollowing saves as much as 90% of money on 3D printing, export your Sculptris work into another software for hollowing.

Blender (free and open source):

Type: 3D Modeling Computer Assisted Design (CAD) Program, 3D Animation Program
Uses: Retopology, hollowing out a model, engineering, creating complex mechanical parts with exact measurements, sculpting (sculpting interface is less intuitive than Sculptris is), 3D animation, 3D games. Blender "does everything."
Notes: Blender's Boolean (i.e. hole punching) feature isn't good for complex sculpts. So make holes, don't break holes.

Adobe Flash (OUTDATED)

Type: 2D Animation Software
Uses: Cartoon animation, games (not recommended), websites (not recommended)
Alternatives: HTML5 (strongly recommended), Synfig, Pencil
Note: Flash has serious compatibility issues with smartphones and touchscreens. I still use Flash for fun, but use HTML 5 for professional projects.


Type: Desktop Publishing and Formatting Tool
Uses: Magazine, eReader, document layouts, pamphlets, books
Alternatives: Scribus
Easy Alternatives: Libre Office

... And counting. Stay tuned :D!

These "Lava Lamp Series" illustrations were made using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I used individual pixel shading techniques and gradient tools for all textures. Photographic textures (i.e. metal and plastic effects) were not used for these drawings.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Photograph of a Marta Train. Photo by Josh Hellett.
Since I take public transportation whenever possible, I see all sorts of weird, interesting things. The top five weird things that ever happened to me on public transportation this year:

1. Man walks up to me randomly, and asks me if I have a "nervous problem." I tell him that "I don't think I do." He insists I am wrong, then asks "are you pregnant? You must be pregnant." I stare at my phone and say nothing. He turns to his reflection, and speaks for it for the rest of the ride.

2.  Five different men asking me why my boyfriend "allowed you to leave" and travel cross-country. I guess I forgot to ask for permission, but this can of military-grade pepper spray should keep me warm at night.

3. A very thin 30-something woman in a tight snakeskin skirt and bantu knots in her hair stands in line with me. I board the bus, and she starts to snarl, snort, and growl behind my back.

4. A drunk homeless senior citizen insisting that I was trying to pick him up, then yelling at me to talk to him. No reply came from me. Another girl answered instead: "She don't want to talk to you!" He asks her for money.

5. A guy getting off the bus, and insisting on walking me home. I stop a long way before my house, and pretend another house is my house. He grabs my hand and kisses it forcefully. I pry away and he informs me that he is a gentleman. I had not not realized.

Credits: Top photo is a Creative Commons photograph by Josh Hallett. Small photograph below it is mine.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I created these landscapes with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop for an unreleased online game. The game featured scenes with pieces that could be dragged, dropped, and deleted according to user specifications. Every piece (buildings, plants, mountains, locker doors, etc.) was saved in a separate file. These pieces were later used for other online games.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Background art, created for an interactive game.
Software used: Illustrator
Technique: I sketched the basis for this with pencil and paper, imported this into Illustrator, then created new vector layers for each part. The items (room, skeleton, table, baby carriage, etc.) each fill a separate layer, which allows them to be moved, resized, and deleted independently. Since everything in the original drawing is vector-based, all textures and artwork can be scaled and re-sized without pixelating.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A quick vector ink-job on Illustrator.
© 2014 Roxy Said What. Content belongs to Roxy Said What. Design courtesy of Main-Blogger - Blogger Template and Blogging Stuff.