My kids like to draw. So what's the next step for computer art?
September 18, 2014 9:37 PM   Subscribe

My kids like drawing (5yrs up to 14yrs). They have played around with some animation software and computer art software as well as paper and pencils. I'd like to encourage them and give them tools to create awesome computer based drawings, but I don't know what those tools are.

Perhaps a Wacom tablet, or a pressure sensitive stylus for an ipad? We have photoshop and illustrator, but there are probably better software tools like iOS Paper maybe?

Budget is reasonably flexible as we could make a Christmas gift out of more costly things.
We have access to a PC and a Mac and an iPad.
posted by bystander to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
My daughter took an animation camp which utilized Toon Boom Studios. She absolutely loved it. She was entranced by this software and worked really hard over the course of two weeks to put together a short animated film. She wrote the story and did all of the graphics and animation. It was an amazing experience for her.

She is much less enthusiastic about Scratch. She likes the animation and graphics tutorials at Kahn Academy, though.

In terms of drawing, however, it's important for them to have the old school basics. A set of Prismacolors (not the "scholar" grade, the good stuff). A set of watercolor pencils. Micron pens. A set of oil pastels. Decent paper. The computer software approximates how these materials behave in real life, but it's important to have experience with the tangible materials to turn out truly good digital drawings.

Look at some of the great illustrators/animators, too, like Miyazaki for inspiration.

We have a Wacom tablet. In these days of touch screens, it doesn't get much use. It's got a much bigger learning curve and I've gotten frustrated with it. Your family might be different though!
posted by Ostara at 9:57 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Folks tend to dig the Bamboo tablets for thorough but entry level tablet drawing. It's a Wacom product so it's pretty durable but I wouldn't trust your 5 year old with it; it's definitely more for the careful and diligent 12+ crowd. I've never used the included software but I've heard good things about the freeing nature of ArtRage from comic artists looking to shake themselves up a little.

For apps, I've watched people play around with Do Ink, it's fun but finicky - if your kids like to collaborate it might work well with a bamboo stylus and your youngest drawing characters that your older kid animates.

One thing they're going to need is a reliable way to get something on paper onto the computer. A flatbed scanner is especially good since it can also handle spontaneous collage and mundane scanning needs, too. But a camera with a high enough resolution and a tripod to mount it on, plus a home made light box, will work great for anything that can stand vertically.
posted by Mizu at 10:10 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is 14 too young for Processing? If not, the one could do that for a couple years, move on to Open Frameworks, then take over the world after high school.
posted by univac at 12:32 AM on September 19, 2014

GEM is free, as is Processing. Sorry, I can't help with the younger one, but I'm very interested in the other replies since I'm about to have my own creature.
posted by univac at 12:36 AM on September 19, 2014

Yeah, a tablet is a great idea. The above recommendations are good, I've also heard good things about Manga Studio.
posted by Drexen at 3:32 AM on September 19, 2014

I would definitely get them a tablet! I switched to a Bamboo for myself at home as a temporary fix after my more expensive tablet died, and have found it surprisingly great for the price.

For drawing/digital painting I would just recommend Photoshop especially since you already have it. Some of the functions have a bit more of a learning curve but it's pretty easy to just choose a pencil or brush, choose a color, and draw.

For animation there might be a better alternative (especially since you can only buy it with a subscription now) but I always thought Flash would be a good program to learn animation on. You can draw directly on the stage and animate straight-ahead as if you were animating on paper, or you can turn your drawings into symbols which you can then animate using the transform tools. Or you can use a combination-- so you can animate a character's face straight-ahead, and then turn that into a symbol you put on top of a body to have it move across the screen.
posted by matcha action at 5:06 AM on September 19, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks guys, we'll see what the budding artists come up with.
posted by bystander at 1:57 AM on September 23, 2014

« Older We need a car. And we don't know anything about...   |   Designing our (little) kitchen Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.