I have three questions for you:
1. Do you want to become an artist of some kind?
2. Are you willing to put in the long hours that it takes to become skillful at the kind of art you want to do?
3. Do you have absolutely no money to spend?
If you answered YES to those three questions, this is the page for you. I will list every single free piece of art software that I know, along with other things you can do without spending money to become the best artist you possibly can. Let’s get started!
- ArtRage – (Windows and Mac) If you don’t have enough money for Photoshop, but want painting tools like the pros, this is the way to go. It can create some amazing painter effects very quickly (although having a Wacom tablet helps… sorry, those things aren’t free).
- Blender – (Windows, Mac, Linux, other) Blender is an Open-Source 3D program, and once you get past the little quirks of the interface, it is very powerful. In fact, it’s the most powerful free 3D program that I know, and I plan on using it to make 3D models for games in the future. If you need a tutorial to start working with it, this is the best one to start with.
- GIMP – (Windows and Linux) GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program”, and it’s one of the highest recommended free art tools out there. I don’t know how good it is, because I honestly have never used it, but the sheer number of sites I’ve seen with people recommending it is enough for me to recommend it too.
- Irfanview – (Windows only) You can’t actually draw anything with Irfanview, but I’m including it anyway because it is the best program I’ve found for quickly opening up almost any type of image file. I use it all the time at home, and it’s a much quicker way to view art files than any art program.
Don’t forget, most of the other high-end programs out there have free demos of the program that are limited in some way (30-day demo, only outputs black-and-white files, etc.). Programs like Flash, Photoshop, 3D Studio Max, Adobe Premiere all have demos for you to try out.
Some of the best info about art can be found, not online, but in books. So, get yourself a library card and start finding these at your local library!
- The Animator’s Survival Kit – This is an animator’s dream come true. No other book quite captures the variety that you can accomplish with animation (although some books come close).
- Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – This is one of the best books for learning drawing. If you’ve never read it, go to the library and get it. The book’s whole message is that if you are unable to draw, it’s not a problem with your hand, it’s a problem with your brain, and if you learn to think like an artist, your drawing will immediately improve.