JoyLevine is passionate for science, math, nature, & all things wild/outdoors. It influences her writing, artistry, photography & video.
Art: A Big Part Of Our Lives
Humans have always seemed to have an inner appreciation of art. From the time we are little, usually one of our favorite past times is to draw. Do you remember learning how to fingerpaint? Or do you remember being taught how to draw a stick figure?
In elementary classes, art is usually a staple class. In the upper grades, it's an elective we can choose. I still remember learning techniques I use to this day. Relief crayon paintings, paper mache, collages.. these are all things we learn in art class. There is quite a variety of art forms out there.
I wish I had been able to take more art classes. I loved art as a child. However, when I went into high school, I opted to get the 'heavy' classes out of the way first, so I neglected enrolling in the advanced art classes. I regret that decision, because art has always been a very big part of my life. I know with the proper instruction I could have gone far, at least as far as my own satisfaction is concerned. Drawing and sketching is easy enough, but in art class you learn all about different techniques. That's what I lack... technique.
Sometimes I have felt like a tradesman who is given an entirely new set of tools that he has never worked with before. You can get in there and figure it out, but without the proper training you are never at peak performance.
However, this does not mean that one cannot learn those techniques, even if you've missed the opportunity early in life. There are so many online resources now, we can do so much that we weren't able to before. There are also a lot of online resources for free drawing tools and programs, which is an incredible commodity for inspiring the budding artist.
So what if all you can draw is a stick figure?
Whether you have a little one at home who enjoys art, or whether you yourself want to dabble a little more, come with me as I show you a few online resources I have found to be helpful, and most importantly, FREE!
The Easiest (And Possibly The Simplest) Program of All: MS PAINT
Almost all PC users have access to MS PAINT. This is the simple paint program built into Windows computers. If you have a MAC, it's PAINTBRUSH. This is the simplest resource to use, as it is already on your computer. The tools are very basic, but I have seen some pretty elaborate artwork done on these programs by skillful people (not myself!).
They have an array of tools, including a background filler, paintbrushes with adjustable width, airbrush technique, polygon and circular, and oval tools with or without fill, and more. There are some very basic examples of what you can do with PAINT on the side.
As a sidenote, PAINT can also be used as a screen capture for your computer.
Disclaimer: I have never claimed to be an artist. I simply have fun trying. I will always have fun trying. I have good hand and eye coordination, which means I don't draw as well abstractly out of my head. I do better at looking at a picture or an object and drawing it. There are some talented people out there. When you see a picture that looks like a photograph, to me, that is true talent. Bob Ross, for one, had true talent. I just enjoy drawing.
There are seemingly endless online art programs on the market, ranging in quality. So how do you know which one to use? What I will do here is list some that I have used and found useful, easy to navigate, and most importantly, they are free.
First off, you can try Pencil Madness. Pencil Madness is a flash program where you can use fancy brushes to create your own special work of art. Editing is easy with undo/redo buttons, eraser, and delete/clear image feature. You can choose to register and save your work as a JPG file. There is a gallery where the latest artwork is displayed as well as top rated.
This program does require Flash version 10. You can also get this program app for Amazon and Android Markets.
Sketch and Paint is a program that is free, no registration required. This program has more features, including varying brush strokes, varying width of strokes, opacity control, layering effect, pick up color feature, and more. It also is very easy to edit and you have the ability to save your work.
Deviant Art is another great little program packed with powerful features. You have all the normal functions such as background fill, varying brushes, edit buttons, layering, a neat little finger smudge feature along with other blending options, twenty two types of effects and even twelve choices of patterns to erase (which was a new feature for me). This really helps gives greater control over everything, and lends itself well to finer detail. You also have the ability to move parts of the picture around. This program is one you need some time to play around with. I wouldn't recommend this for the real young ones.
It's a powerful program for the size, but still simple enough it won't take you long to learn.
Slimber is an additional program with much the same features. It has added polygon effects and you have to just play around with this one to get the feel for it. I find this one gives nice steady control on the brushes as well.
Harmony is a program with lots of neat effects. It's much like Brushster (discussed below), though not nearly as advanced. Harmony is a good program for the intermediate artist or someone who wants to experiment around a bit.
If Picasso style artwork is your thing, there is an extremely interesting program at Picasso Head that you should check out. If you have ever dreamed of creating your own Picasso, this is the place to do it.
This is a really fun little program. You can get very creative with this particular program.
It is full of shapes that you can put together and create portraits, landscapes, or anything your heart desires, or your brain can figure out. All the pictures to the right were created using this program. Once you get started, the possibilities are endless. This is a simple and fun little program that kids will love, especially the younger ones.
A Favorite of Mine: Scribbler
I love this program. Scribbler is a program where you initially draw a figure, whatever it may be. Then, you press a button ("Start Scribbler") and Scribbler begins creating small lines between your initial lines. You can control the density, size, and color of the 'scribbling' effect. I love the effect of this program. It really makes a normal picture come out looking very 'artsy.'
As you get used to using Scribbler, you will get more accustomed as to how to create the lines to obtain the exact effect you are looking for. This one takes a little practice, but the program is a wonderful and simple program that provides fun for the whole family.
ArtPad is also a nifty little program. This is a simple drawing and painting program, with all the normal features that the whole family will enjoy. You can even 'frame' your own picture.
The added feature that kids will love is that they can create a drawing and once they're done, they can hit "replay painting" and the program will actually start the painting from the beginning and play it as if it were a video. They can actually see their own creation being created.
Brushster: Probably My Favorite Program Next To ArtRage
Brushster is an art program with many advanced features. I can't believe this program is free. I have loved using this program. It has well over 30 features with brushes, strokes, and other effects and each one is individually adjustable. You can blur, sharpen, smudge, distort, and otherwise apply effects to your finished product. You can, of course, save your files, also. The versatility of this program makes it my favorite next to ArtRage, which is a full functioning art program for real painters.
ArtRage is a program I am listing here even though it is not free. Why am I listing it, then?
Only because this is probably the best digital painting program I have ever used. The features are amazing and if you paint at all, you will see that the sky is the limit when it comes to this program. You are limited only by your imagination.
This program has more features than you can imagine. If you want to check it out, you can download a free trial version for 14 days. After that, the prices vary depending on what features you get. Again, I only list this here because if you are serious about painting, this is a program worth its weight in gold.
Below is an example of one of my sketches that I scanned in, and then used ArtRage to "paint" the picture in oil painting style. You can choose oil painting or acrylic.
Get Out There and Draw, Sketch and Paint!
I hope this has helped you to find some great little programs for entertainment. Perhaps it will provide you and your family with some hours of fun. Whatever program you use, the most important thing is to have fun while you're doing it.
Art is a means of expressing yourself. So get out there, and express yourself! Feel free to share any links to other programs you think some may be interested in.