Friday, July 16, 2010

Creative Software for Starting a Project.

I thought this fitting as the first blog post. We all fit into certain categories when it comes to personal projects. Some of us are good at starting, some are better at finishing but most of us fall somewhere in the middle. This post is about digital tools to get a head-start on the creative process.

So what kind's of software are useful?

 For free form Brainstorming I recommend Mind mapping applications. This category of software allows you to lay out your ideas visually working out kinks in flow whilst elaborating on your ideas. Mind mapping software will appeal to the segment of users who accept function over form.

I prefer Open-source software as it is inexpensive as in free, and often provides as good a tool as many of the paid for solution's.

 One such application to look at is Vue ( IE Visual Understanding Environment). While relatively new it offers a wealth of functions to kick start any creative process and doesn't lock you into the regular methodology normally found in this form of software. Vue will work just as well for the poet, painter or musician, allowing you to track folders, word's, list's, picture's and audio easily. Vue is free and can be found here here.

Vue Screen Shot.

 Next up is FreeMind it is a free mind mapping application written in Java. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X via the Java Runtime Environment. Much like Vue FreeMind allows the user to edit a hierarchical set of ideas around a central concept. The non-linear approach assists in brainstorming new outlines and projects as ideas are added around the mind map. As with most Mind mapping software it will appeal to the segment of users who accept function over form. You can find it free of charge  here.

FreeMind Screen Shot

For a list of other Mind Mapping software check out Wikipedia here.

 I can hear some of you asking how-about software specific to different creative mediums. I will approach this by artistic category so lets start.

 One of my favorite programs in this category is Liptikl, it's not open source but well worth a look. It is meant for creating lyrics but is adept at poetry as well. Liptikl is a 'cut up' word arranger; and lyric generator. It mixes together words from up to 3 different sources, and, according to some inbuilt rules, then generates word arrangements from these. The results can be surprising and inspirational. For writers block it is what what this doctor prescribes and for starting projects it is one of the better writers brainstorming tools you can find. The price on it is $49.99 and it runs on Mac or Pc. You can find it here.

Liptikl Screen Shot

Visual Art and Graphics
 I could type away here for 50 days and still not cover all the software in these category's so I am concentrating on the best of the unique and lessor known programs. If you don't know about Photoshop or Gimp then you should start there. Here are a few that are not well known but great for starting Visual projects.

Project Dogwaffle version 1.2 is freeware. The free version of Dogwaffle is an amazing paint program that has brush technology that looks very much like real watercolor oil or chalk. It is a powerful tool for artistic expression and for sketching out ideas it is brilliant. You can find it here.

Project Dogwaffle version 1.2 Screen Shot

Traditional Animation

 As I stated earlier I have a soft spot for Open Source software, often you will find that author's of this type of software are in it for the love of it and have created a unique tool that may well out perform a commercial offering. In the Traditional Animation section we have just that, its called Pencil and when you use this software it is obvious that the author loves what he does. Pencil allows for all the things you would expect from a traditional style animation system. You have onion skinning, layers and a timeline with an intuitive Ui so you wont get lost.

There are the typical pen, pencil, brush, and paint bucket.

 Your layers.

 This could well sell for hundreds of dollars but it is free and created with much love by the author. You can 
 find pencil here. here.

Pencil Screen Shot

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