In a continuation of our “Technology and X” series, we turn our focus to technology and art. In the rapid rise of the digital age, technology has helped create entirely new mediums for artists to produce works with. Digital art and photography, animation, special effects, music and more have all been made possible by new technology. To explore the vast array of topics associated with art and technology, I’m going to break up this blog post into a few sections to talk about each of these genres in further detail, and show how you can use your tech skills to create works of art!
Digital Art and Photography
Digital art and photography are lumped together in this section due to the overlap of tech tools many professionals use to produce or enhance their work. Out of all the tools, Adobe Photoshop is perhaps the most popular. Originally created as a powerful image editing platform, Photoshop has gone through several iterations and contains many tools digital artists utilize in order to create dreamy and surreal paintings. With more customizable settings than you could ever hope to use, Photoshop lets users control every aspect of the design process. Color correction, digital paint brushes, special effects, filters, typography tools, and more. This program has everything, and is a must have for many photographers. The rest of the Adobe Creative Suite is also quite powerful, with programs such as Fireworks, Illustrator and InDesign, which are other artistic programs meant for producing pieces of design.
If you want to get started with any of the Adobe products, you can try them out for a 30 day free trial period. If you’re a teacher or a student, you can get a discount on a monthly Creative Cloud subscription. Since Photoshop and other programs can have a bit of a learning curve, I definitely recommended walking through some video tutorials on the Adobe website or Youtube. Video tutorials are great because you get to see the workflow and creative process of other users. To try some walkthrough project tutorials, I highly recommend design.tutsplus.com or abduzeedo.com – they have some fantastic project based tutorials.
Animation and Special Effects
The animation and SFX industry are certainly booming right now. There are seldom movies nowadays produced without any form of technical enhancement. If you want to dive into animation, prepare for a creative yet technical adventure. In most major animation studios, there are hundreds of people working on different aspects of any single film, ranging from creating better graphics algorithms to just sketching designs. Depending on how technical you want to get, you might consider going to school or taking some classes on animation and graphics.
However, if you just want to practice at home, there are some great alternatives for some lightweight experimentation. Blender is a popular and free 3D software rendering program. This program is great for beginners, and is open source, so it’s being updated all the time. If you want to try something a little more powerful, I recommend Maya or 3DS Max, both provided by Autodesk. These programs are free to download for students, but can be otherwise be a bit expensive. Blender.org has some great Blender tutorials for beginners. For Maya and 3DS Max, I would again recommend video tutorials to orient yourself with the interface and starting some projects. As a side note, all of these 3D programs are great ways to make prototypes of any sort of 3D physical project you might be planning. And if you have a 3D printer, you can design objects to 3D print through most of these programs! Talk about powerful!
Music is the final subtopic on this list. Digital music, including the rise of the EDM genre, rely heavily on modern technology. Sound can be recorded at top notch quality with fancy microphones, and edited to perfection with music editing programs. If you think you could be the next top music artist, digital or otherwise, technology will most certainly be a factor in producing your work.
The most popular (and free, if you have a Mac) music editor is GarageBand. It’s a powerful program with a simple interface that lets you drag and drop audio tracks, layer original and provided music and fade in and out clips. There’s also some support for noise cleanup and special effects. If you don’t have a Mac, a comparable option is Audacity, which you can download for free on both Mac and Windows. The interface isn’t as nice looking as GarageBand, but it does the same work. This site has a great intro tutorial for GarageBand, broken into different parts (http://blog.macformusicians.com/garageband-tutorial/) , but as with any creative process, I would actually just recommend playing around with these two programs to see what they’re capable of. And if you have an idea for a song, you can make it happen with these tools!
So that’s it for tech and art. That really only scratched the surface, but hopefully one of these areas caught your eye. If not, feel free to email me for more ideas and ways you can integrate technology with your artistic pursuits!