Where would the Impressionists have been without the invention of portable paint tubes that enabled them to paint outdoors? Who would have heard of Andy Warhol without silkscreen printing? The truth is that technology has been providing artists with new ways of expressing themselves for a very long time. Still, over the decades, art and technology have become more intertwined than ever before, whether it is through providing new ways to mix different types of media, allowing more human interaction or simply making the process of creating art easier.
Some of the many examples in which technology assists or becomes involved with art and art making would be Drone Technology, 3D printing, digital photography and editing and even things like Virtual Reality and access to the internet. One of the main things we’re looking at today is the use of phone apps and how they can help us in the production of our artworks. However, we will still touch on a few of the above-mentioned technologies because the way they affect us is very interesting and almost hard to live without in our time. The three key ones here would be access to the internet, the ability to digitally alter photos and even to take those photos without having to expend a huge amount of money and time on development.
Technology has made our lives easier, certainly in many aspects. One doesn’t often think about how being able to use a digital camera could possibly assist in the act of creating a painting. Its uses are obvious but its something we very much take for granted. Even the ability to snap a photo on your phone and then make a quick sketch from it later or even to use it as a fully fledged reference photo is so important. It saves us time and money and ultimately improves the art making experience.
In this regard, I want to look at how a cellphone app could do the same thing. Not to take a photo necessarily but to improve the experience of creating an artwork. There are the obvious ones for computers like Photoshop or Design software but these require a fairly substantial learning curve. We’re looking specifically at applications that are simple, easy to use and free. I am also not focusing too much on apps that were designed as drawing tools as are there are hundreds out there and choosing what works for you is a personal choice.
Adobe (the creators of Photoshop) have created a series of apps that are free to use but offer more subscription-based services as well. This allows you access to video and photo editing in a multitude of ways so its definitely worth checking out for those times you just need to quickly tweak something on your reference photo.
This is a fairly simple app in that there isn’t a big learning curve or even a lot of features. But in its simplicity lies the key to colour inspiration. If you’re looking for a colour scheme for your next project or having trouble finding colours to match exactly what you need, this is a great and simple app to use. You can search colour schemes by hue or just by what is most popular. It is possible to save your favourites and the app even gives you digital colour information for RGB and CMYK for those of you who like to paint or draw digitally.
This app is your daily dose of art history in an easy to use and simple app. Each day, it gives you a new artwork from history to look at and also includes a small description of the work and who painted it. Its a great way of expanding your personal knowledge without throwing a huge amount of time and energy into learning about a whole new world. You also have the ability to view the archive, although in the free version this is limited. However, the app does have a relatively low once off payment that will give you access to all the features. For those interested in History of Art or in expanding their knowledge, this is a very handy app.
Pinterest is one of those apps that probably everyone knows about but it is such a valuable resource that we couldn’t leave it off the list. Pinterest has such varied content that you will need to search using keywords for what you want but the possibilities are endless. There are hundreds of thousands of art tutorials, inspirational images, reference images as well as artist tips and ideas, all contained into boards, pages and pins. It is such a useful app and website that it has truly changed the way we browse for information. The ability to save and catalogue ideas is one of the best features and the great news is that it translates beautifully from a computer to a phone app.
A great, simple and free app for placing a grid over an existing photo. You can specify how many rows and columns you want or use presets. Other parameters include line thickness, colour, and transparency, all of which you can customize. You can then export the image with the grid on it for later use. This is an excellent tool for drawing and it is something we practice in class. A grid is key in ensuring your drawing is accurate and on a digital platform, it is even more useful as you can then zoom in and out as needed.
EasyPoser is a human body pose app for artists to use as a reference. Have you ever wanted a personalized model to show various poses while drawing animation, illustration or sketching? More often than not, you won’t find a photo with the exact pose you’re looking for, so this tool is great for that situation. You pose your model exactly how you want it and see from the angle you want. It is slightly cartoonish in nature but still very workable and easy to use.
So as we can see, the advent of technology in many ways has allowed us more room to play and grow as artists. We no longer have to fuss with a live model, though it is still a good way to learn. The key thing here to note is just how much access we have to new tools via the internet. It’s actually incredible what we are capable of doing so why not harness just a little bit of that to make your life easier.