Archive for the 'Art Stuff' Category

Jul 01 2009

Forget Photoshop

Here on Stuff for Starving Students we have talked about cool stuff for starving artists before. There is yet another tool that I have played with for some time now (back when it was still in private beta) and while I don’t have ton of use for it as a boring old history major this has to be one of the most powerful online creation tools out there.

Addiction by mpeutz on AviaryAddiction by mpeutz on Aviary.

The above image was created on Aviary a web based tool that is an image editor, image markup, effects editor, swatch editor, and vector editor. Each of these tools has their own clever bird inspired name, e.g. Peacock, Phoenix, Toucan and a few others. What you create in one can easily be brought into another editor, making the process of creating a visually amazing image simple. There are many great tutorials and documentation available for those of you who don’t know where to begin or need a little help getting some stuff done. I wish I could talk more extensively about the image editor, Peacock, but not often needing such a powerful editor I have not used it. I’m willing to bet that many of the tools on Aviary would impress those artists who understand color swatches, vectors, and other artsy terms. As I mentioned before though I am a boring history major, so why am I bringing up Aviary anyway?

Recently Aviary released a new editor called Falcon that works alongside a Firefox extension called Talon. As a long time PC user (no comments about that please) I have never really impressed by Windows screen capture options or MS paint. In fact I don’t think MS paint has changed as long as I can remember that application, that is besides the point though. This simple add-on that so innocently sits right next to the Delicious add-on (you did install it like we told you to right?) has already made my life so much easier. With Talon you can easily capture just a portion of the screen, the visible portion of the page, or the page in its entirety. After you have taken the screen shot you have several options. You could save it to your desktop and call it a day. Or if you are feeling more adventurous open it up in Falcon which is similar to MS Paint but doesn’t look so ugly and also gives you the option to go to a more advanced editor which totally kicks MS Paint butt. Even more than that you could open the image in the other editors we mentioned earlier in this post and do more fancy stuff!

And would you believe all this editing stuff is free? So instead of shelling out big money to use Photoshop, and lets face it you won’t even use half the features in Photoshop if you are anything like me, get a FREE account at Aviary. Even if you want to upgrade to a premium account the cost won’t make you cry yourself to sleep at night and eat ramen noodles for the rest of the semester. For the awesome screen capturing goodness alone this is worth it but, as long as you are going to sign up for account might as well play around, right?

Keep on doodling you starving students!

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Jun 12 2009

Create & Collaborate

This latest cool stuff was pointed out to me by Patrick Murray-John who once again has found a rockin’ tool. Creately is an online tool that lets you create diagrams and designs and collaborate with others on said stuff. This is one of the best programs I have seen for diagram and design collaboration because not only is it intuitive but it also comes jam-packed with lots of useful features and lots of granular control.

Creately Screenshot

The objects are smart and have features that only appear when you need them to by clicking on them. The tool has hundreds of features but does not overwhelm you with a myriad of menus and buttons. The toolbar is simple and elegant too. Images can be stretched, skewed, and inverted. You can change colors, size, font and there is an infinite undo and redo button (yay!). The tool saves revisions so you can revert back (like wikipedia) if necessary. There are lots more features I could talk about but it is better if you go there and try it out for yourself. Creately is a powerful tool and most importantly (to this site at least) it is free!

Collaboration is made easy by clicking the share button in the upper-right hand corner and sending it off to your fellow collaborators. You can also leave comments to discuss the diagram/design and Creately allows you to intelligently point to a specific piece within the diagram/design so other people know exactly what you are talking about. There is little confusion when using this tool, it is really user friendly. Another great feature that is simple but important is the ability to export what you have created. There is the option of creating an image, PDF, XML, or to send it off in an e-mail. You’d be surprised how many tools that work great don’t have great options for exporting what you create, for this Creately gets extra bonus points.

As of today (6/12/09) it is in private beta but, I got an account easily enough and within half an hour I was playing around with Creately. So next time you have a group project that requires designing or diagramming I expect you will enlighten your group about this awesome tool. And go ahead and take the glory for making the group project much easier through your “discovery” of this cool tool, I won’t tell them where you heard about it.

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Feb 18 2009

Stuff for Starving Artists

At SfSS, we know that starving artists are an important subspecies of starving students. That’s why I’ve hand-picked five useful resources for all you tormented, creative types out there.

First, the Louvre! Luckily, you don’t have to go all the way to Paris to visit. The Louvre’s website provides images of the museum’s artwork, plenty of corresponding information, and–joy of all joys–a totally badass virtual tour. You can wander through the wings of the Louvre, clicking on any painting for a closer view and description. You can even save your favorite works in custom albums, using their ‘my personal space‘ feature. Want to be the next Van Gogh? Nothing’s stopping you now!

If you’re a musician, I’m about to make you very happy. No, I haven’t just kicked Paul McCartney in the balls, but I think you’ll like this too. Chordie is a website dedicated to providing guitar, banjo, ukelele, and mandolin chord progressions for pretty much every song you can think of. And, because it’s just made of awesome, it will transpose these songs into any key you want! Imagine the possibilities.

But what about writers? Try Duotrope! I know it sounds like a sleazy, non-FDA approved drug, but I promise it won’t give you cancer. Duotrope’s Digest is the largest database of literary journals on the web. If you’re looking to get published, this is a fantastic resource for finding journals to submit to. You can search by genre, length, payscale, and a whole host of other attributes. Do you write experimental post-apocalyptic short fiction about mice and root beer floats? There’s a journal for that. Well, probably.

Maybe you write something that can’t be published in a traditional way, like screenplays. While certainly not the most attractive website, the Internet Movie Script Database has screenplays available for most movies, word-for-word. Recent additions include “Slumdog Millionaire“, “Revolutionary Road“, and (unfortunately) “Twilight“. If you want to write like the Coen Brothers, the best way to start is by studying their work. IMSDb makes that easy.

Hey graphic artists, you didn’t think I forgot about you, right? Check out Vecteezy for free creative commons vector art. You can search by category, file type, or license, and there are even sections for flash animation, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator brushes, and all kinds of nifty icons. Web designers, I’m looking at you too. Think how shiny your sites will be now that you’ve got this resource at your fingertips. People will follow you around, in awe of your design skills. Small children, cuddly animals, and generous millionaires will flock to you.

So go create art, you beautiful people!

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