by: A. Martellacci
My art is made from wire, garbage and string.
Until a few years ago, I did not have a smart phone. It seems odd I would bother trying to create art with technology at all. Maybe I’m afraid to be left behind. Maybe my junk art collection is beginning to alienate people. Either way, I wanted some good clean fun.
With no idea where to start, I gamely opened the app store hoping to trip over something interesting. I did so right away because my phone is creepy and can read minds.
ArtFlow, was the first suggestion google curated. It looked just technical enough to be useful and unassuming enough to be immediately comprehensible from its short bio and pics. The reviews were glowing, except for occasional id10-T error reports.
The user interface is clean… like, blank. Tap the little white dot in the corner to view the toolbars and tap again to hide. I like it. Not all tools are available in free mode (duh), but many of the most useful brushes and pens are there.
Both RYB and HSV colour wheels are free to use, for what it’s worth. It is obviously designed for tablet and slows a bit on the phone if there’s too much going on.
Using just the tip of my finger and the charcoal setting, I was able to create gentle blends without any of the smudges of real life.
Obviously, super accurate sketching was out of the question on my tiny phone screen, but I ended up pleased with a few of the pieces. Building colours with air brushes (standard, shading and foggy) and the round brush was especially zen.
Not being much a fan of markers in real life, I was surprised to find myself enjoying them especially.
Canvas size presets are standard, and therefore useful. Saving is also standard. Save to anywhere. Send to anyone. Zooming in and spinning the canvas works great. The app’s ability to delineate between brush stokes and the zoom function taps was consistently good; so no accidental mark making The thing I was sad for but don’t begrudge, is layers can only be added in the paid version… which I have now. The layers work great and don’t cause slowdown on my (crappy) phone.
ArtFlow is the perfect pocket scratch pad. I love sketching with it when I have a spare moment. It will always have a front page spot on my phone.
Never knowing when enough is enough, I went back to the all knowing algorithm interface known as, the Play Store, and scrolled for a long time. Nothing looked immediately interesting. Searched: “art apps”. Scrolled. 8bit PhotoLab. Interesting.
8bit PhotoLab + Bonus App
Holy crap! I loaded an image of Luna. Yes, from Sailor Moon. Wut? My finger must have slipped. I scrolled to the Commodore PET monitor setting and this happened:
This is going to be awesome!
There are a million different settings. Great fun to play with. I finger sketched a cube with ArtFlow.
These are some of my favourite 8bit PhotoLab filtrates of the above cube after spending (a lot of) time messing around.
All kinds of monitor, colour palette and even vector graphics filters can be customized to create the most vintage computing or modernａｅｓｔｈｅｔｉｃ effects. I have not reached the end of this app’s free functionality (but I bought it anyway). Oh, and it goes great with another little free app I found.
TextArt. Free font selection is limited, though you can upload your own. TextArt, and the endlessly nifty, 8bit Photo Lab, created this delightful abomination.
Not comfortable drawing on a screen at all? Use Notebloc to scan and trim your meatspace sketches (and notes) instead. It does a pretty good job of it. Photographing flat things is not as easy as it seems.
Notebloc proves useful for in situ scanning and saves in pdf. I’ve already used it professionally and am creeping the Notebloc tablets on amazon.
Here are a collection of jellies and aspics. Don’t let their bouncy, colourful looks fool you. One is made from pickle relish, another from tomato soup and I think there’s even some sour cream and mayo in there.
What happens when you mash Notebloc, 8-bit Photo Lab and TextArt together? You get my new forum avatar.
This collection of apps puts a whole lot of fun and functionality in the palm of your hand. They play well together, are either free or cheap and translate well to smaller screens. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need some time alone to fingerpaint.