Art Tools

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  Visual Art comes in many forms, from scribbles on cave walls to animated digital murals. I myself have only had experience in a limited number of media, but my experience with them is fairly extensive. These include pencils, inks, watercolours and most recently, digital art.

In this space, I intend to share with you my favourite PC graphic tools, be they hardware, software or otherwise. As you scroll down this page, you will find short descriptions of products and hopefully links to them or information about them.

If you would like me to review a tool you use or have created, please contact me and I will gladly consider it.

Clipart / Photo CDs

Corel Gallery Magic 65,000If you are looking for an inexpensive collection of clipart and low-res royalty-free photos, try Corel Gallery Magic 65,000 out. It comes on 2 CDs, has a decent interface and contains a whopping collection of 40,000 photos, over 500 fonts and around 25,000 vector clipart images. One of the best parts of the package is that a book (about an inch thick, full colour) is included in which all of the clipart is shown by category. I paid $30 Canadian for my copy of this package.

Photo-Editing Software

COREL Photopaint This is my all-time favourite photo-editing tool. It not only comes bundled with Corel Draw, but supports Photoshop plug-ins at a fraction of the cost of Photoshop. In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated pieces of graphics software on the market. All of the graphoce on this site were done using Photopaint. My student copy of the Corel Draw 8 Suite cost $127 Canadian, which is a lot of money but still about a quarter of the full price.

Image Browsing/Viewing

XN-View Picture ViewerAlthough image browsers are a dime a dozen, my all-time favourite tool for quick image browsing, simple editing and batch conversion is XN-View, hands-down. It supports an incredible number of image formats, is extremely fast and is as simple as mud to use. Oh, and I forgot, it's FREEWARE!

Ray-Tracing Renderer

Pov Ray is the single best known freeware ray-tracing package in the world. Not only is it free, but it renders incredibly photo-realistic scenes and most every modelling program supports its format. In case you don't know what a ray-tracer or a modeller is, here goes... A modeller allows you to "sculpt" objects in 3D using your computer. Once the file describing the objects is saved, it can be passed into the ray-tracer. The ray-tracer renders a photo-realistic image that simulates how light would bounce off of the objects (hence the word "ray"). Just think of it as a program that can make imaginary scenes come to life.

Cheap Digital Camera

JamCam 2.0I bought a really cheap digital camera at Future Shop this summer, hoping to have a little fun without spending a fortune... and boy have I! It's a camera meant for kids called JamCam 2.0 that allows you to take full-colour pictures at a resolution of up to 640x480 pixels. Although they aren't particularly clear and you need a lot of light to get enough exposure, the pictures can still allow you to make sweet web-graphics or to just let your imagination go. I bought mine for about $60 Canadian. It comes packaged with some easy to use but useful photo retouching software, to boot.

Drawing Tablet

Wacom is recognized as the industry leader in professional (and lesser) graphic tablets. The one I bought two years ago is pressure-sensitive and features a stylus with two buttons and a patented "eraser" end. I paid about $150 Canadian, but you can probably get an even better one now for less. I would suggest you focus on getting good software before you bother shelling out for one of these, however. If you do want one, just remember that with graphic tablets, bigger is better.



All of the materials on this page -- written, graphical or intellectual -- are Copyright Taylor Bastien and should not be reproduced in any way, shape or form. E-mail for more info. This is one thing about which I am very serious.