Having Fun With Digital Art

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So here it is, the 20th of November already. Isn’t it funny how time seems to pass more quickly the older one gets?

I missed blogging last week. That is, I didn’t write anything, mostly because I wanted to write something profound and impactful regarding current events and the unfortunate plight of our national state of media misinformation. I decided it would be too much like shouting from a soapbox and put a post out on Facebook instead.

One of the best things about Facebook is that you can share almost anything and people won’t remember it a week later.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Switching topics, I’ve been delving deep into digital art lately and thought I’d write a blog about some interesting treasures I’ve found. But before I do that, I’d like to share some backstory. Bear with me…I’l try to make it short.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an art teacher. This was in the early 70s; no one had invented digital art yet. I think I really wanted to be an artist and a teacher, but at the time it came across as “art teacher”. I know this partly because I remember my fondness for art and also because my Nana kept a memory book for me. A “School Years” book.

At the end of each school year, she’d glue or tape my school picture on the appropriate page in the book. Then she asked me who my friends were, what I wanted to be when I grew up, and sometimes recorded my weight and height. When I was old enough, she gave me the book to finish for myself. It is now tattered and torn, but I’ve recently scanned each page so that it is stored electronically. It was fun to revisit old memories but proof positive that my memory isn’t as good as I thought it was.

In the book, years K through 4 record my future ambitions as wanting to be an “artist/teacher”. From that I went to “scientist” for a couple of years, then “lawyer”, “astronaut”, and by 12th grade it was “engineer”. The law profession occurred to me in junior high; those years are typically attributed to being mixed up and confused about everything so it’s no wonder that I put down something totally out of whack with my personality. But I’ve spent most of my life circulating around the remaining triage of art, science, and engineering.

Helpful Skills for Digital Artists


On the surface, Art, Science and Engineering are three different career paths requiring different sets of skills. As a matter of fact, during my first year of college I attended an orientation during which we were encouraged to choose one branch over another in order to define our future choice of degree.

It just made me frustrated. I never did understand why engineering students couldn’t benefit from taking art classes. It’s true we had plenty of science classes…but did the art students ever have to take engineering classes? I think not. And I’m almost positive science students didn’t have to take art or engineering classes…

But I’ve discovered, to my delight, that all three are helpful (if not necessary) in digital art. 

I’ve found that if you combine the aptitudes for creativity and imagination (required for art), with some technical precision and logic (from engineering), and the ability to use curiosity and exploration to build on theory (from science), all in one person, chances are you’ll have someone who is going to love digital art.

That person would probably agree that a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud is like a free all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet with loads of toppings and whipped cream.

I love ice cream! Thankfully Creative Cloud has zero calories.

Digital Art Treasures

So lately I’ve been playing with more of the Creative Cloud software than Photoshop and Lightroom.

Unfortunately, my poor Nanowrimo project is frozen in Chapter Two (no surprise there, but at least it’s farther along than last year). However, I’m having loads of fun learning how to use all these Adobe programs. One side effect is that the clock magically goes from noon to five pm in a heartbeat.

Or so it seems.

In addition, I’m finding lots and lots of good resources. As promised, here are a few of the “treasures”.

Envato Tuts+

Envato is a superb website for courses and content to play with while learning Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, In Design, After Effects, and probably a dozen other digital art programs. They have a subscription, but I haven’t needed it yet because I haven’t finished all the FREE classes I want to take. After trying the initial Adobe software tuts, this is the site I turn to for learning a new skill.

Skillshare

This is another superb FREE website for learning skills. This weekend I took a course called “Kickstart your Creativity: Introduction to Mood Boards” by Nancy Herrmann. I chose it at random while looking for something I could do using my new In Design skills. It only took about an hour to go through the videos but I had fun with the assigned project. A mood board is a collage of images used to communicate ideas. I decided to start one as inspiration for modifying the design of this blog. I’m finding it a fun way to brainstorm, and the result will be a good benchmark for future improvements.

Behance

If you don’t know where to start with the software and just want to look at possibilities, visit Behance. They showcase some truly amazing projects. I was completely taken with David Bookbinder’s 52 Flower Mandalas. Gorgeous. Makes me want to jump into Illustrator and start making some myself. If only I knew how to do more than make shapes!

Adobe Education Exchange

Adobe EdEx is primarily aimed at teachers or students who would like digital art careers. But anyone can join and take classes, which range from learning skills in the Adobe software to advice for incorporating digital learning in non-art curriculum. I’m currently taking a 6 week workshop in Game Design. Why? Primarily because I wanted to learn how to use Unity and Adobe Fuse, but I’ve also learned what constitutes games and why people play them. These workshops are AMAZING! Each week’s lesson includes a live class (you can attend if you want to, or you can watch the recordings) and four to six short lessons that you follow at your own pace. As you complete the assignments, you also complete a “Learning Journal” in which you keep track of your progress and add your thoughts about your learning. You also have to critique three other participants before you can move to the next lesson. Not all courses are offered all the time, but most courses are offered periodically throughout the year so if you missed it this time around you can catch it next time.

Adobe Color CC

Having the Creative Cloud subscription gives me access to Adobe Color inside Photoshop and Illustrator. This is a great tool for creating color palettes and saving them to your library. The tool lets you create your own palette using a variety of color rules, or you can explore palettes created by others. It’s easy to use and fun to manipulate the color wheel.

There are more than enough choices available to choose from, but if you want additional color inspiration check out

Color Palettes

This site lets you search through hundreds of images to find a palette that’s perfect for your project. You can browse through warm, cool, pastel, or contrasting color palettes. Or you can specify a color or colors. Or you can enter your own search tag. Check out some of the beautiful palettes I found when using the search term “Christmas”:

Wouldn’t that last one make a beautiful blog palette?

I could add more “treasures” that I’ve found, but I’d like to hear about your favorites first. What resources do you think are awesome?

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