Restoring Creativity in A Clicking World

General Moho topics.

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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:46 pm

DK wrote:Cool :) So you're ideas come to you as you are working? Is it that the freedom the computer gives you to play with pixels,points etc is how you create your ideas? Do you think about what you are going to create while you are sitting down at the computer or do you have some thought as to what you are going to create before hand?

D.K
In the past for as long as I could remember since I was a child, a blank piece of paper and a pencil or pen... or crayon... was an inspiration. I am never "daunted" by the blank canvas. Sometimes the ideas are difficult to pull out of my head... but I never feel afraid of a blank page that needs to be filled.

A blank computer document holds the same excitement for me. I often open a document in Photoshop, or Anime Studio and just... start to draw something. Maybe it is an idea already in my head or I experiment with textures or shapes. Photoshop is better sometimes because of the wacom pad. It feels like sketching with the benefit of the "undo".

Here's another situation that came up for me a couple of times recently. A client INSISTED on logo "sketches". He said the people approving designs could not look at "clean" logo ideas to choose from. They had to be rough and look like they were drawn by hand....

:twisted:

No problem! I used photoshop to "dirty up" my computer roughs. I even used a scan of some sketch paper I had on my computer to add some texture. Talk about a waste of time though. ;)

Having now defended the computer as a legitimate creative artform ;) I will say that I have been doing more "traditional" painting and drawing lately.

I did a painting this past summer. A REAL painting... wet paint on a canvas. It was TERRIFYING... I hadn't touched a paint brush in 10 years, but it turned out okay. The terrifying part was NO UNDO. It was so difficult to get past that. It is so engrained in my brain.

I had so much fun doing that painting I promised to do a large format portrait of my grandparents on the old farm for our family reunion. The painting will be in an auction to family members who attend to raise money to pay for the reunion. I have already heard some scary rumors about the potential bids on this painting.... I am under great pressure to do something incredible... it's a bit frightening and exciting.

So, it all depends on what you need to get something done. There will always be a need for "hand done" art work or design and the computer isn't more or less a medium for creative expression.

Check this out:

http://www.canvaspress.com/photos_on_ca ... Hgod3zohIA

-vern
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DK
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Post by DK » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:54 pm

Vern. Why do I not recieve auto replies when you respond? You just responded to this thread but I did not recieve an auto response for the second time?

D.K
Last edited by DK on Sun Jan 27, 2008 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Sun Jan 27, 2008 1:01 pm

I don't say computer is better than paper, but working on a computer is totally different from working on paper. I won't say computers spoil creativity - but they restrict creativity, as every tool does.

I don't trust any theory with the underlying premise that all artists are equal. They're not. There are the ones that can't draw a straight line, but they might be wizards with a computer. There are the ones who see the finished work completely in their imagination when they start (that's me), and there are the ones who need to play around with stuff for a certain time until their idea begins to form. Who says which of them is superior over the other? Who has defined the mastership of pencil drawing as the litmus test of artistry?

That said, I strongly recommend a formal training in pencil drawing and other artistic ancestries. There's lots to say in favour of it, namely the training of the fine motor skills of the hand, the enlargement of its corresponding brain area, and the general use of motoric intelligence and memory in addition to other ways of learning. This is all stuff which can be measured and verified, and it has nothing to do with any aesthetic or philosophical crusade.

There's even more to it. The more techniques an artist has command of, the more tools he knows, the more variety he's able to bring into his work - and he's got different solutions at hand when something goes wrong. This is of certain importance in a complex workflow like animation where always, always something needs to be fixed, improved, or just made plain possible. If you are just a one trick pony, you'll be laid off at the next software upgrade.
There's something about paper and pencil that is too permanent.
I've heard this quite often, and many times from people who didn't know the concepts of sketch, tracing, and preliminary against final artwork. I wonder if we ever would know the name Rodin if he had the same attitude: "There's something about stone that is too permanent ... I feel restricted in my creativity when I have to work with stone." As you can research, Rodin worked with sketches, clay models, smaller versions a lot, before he sculpted the final work.

Classically trained animators don't have a problem with pencils. They know erasers, and they know when it's time to start all over. If you can't inbetween or cleanup your way out of Hanna-Barbera's, then classical animation is not your art of choice. (I leave out the part that an assistant has to be a better artist than an animator: this only works in a well-developed studio system.)

My way of animation is a hybrid of all available techniques. What I draw on paper will eventually be used in the computer, and the final result is on screen. This feels just normal to me: I spent my whole professional life with transferring artwork from one medium to another, from sketch to cleanup, from paper to film, from film to print, whatever. In each step something is "finished", only to be changed in the next.
where exactly does the pencil end and the computer begin?
Oh, I just look at them. My pencil is much smaller, so it's easy to distinguish between them ...

Each tool has its own set of advantages and restrictions. For me, a felt-tip pen already restricts me more than a pencil. Artistry arises when someone knows exactly which tool to chose at any given moment, and when this tool is used with a certain virtuosity.

You all know the old joke of the mechanic who repaired the car with just one hit of his hammer and charged 31$ for it? Furiously asked by the customer why he charged so much he explained the bill: "1 hit with hammer: 1$. Know where to hit: 30$." I might be able to do a drawing with only one line which is perfect, but I will not let the client see how fast I can do that because then he will not pay my price. He's unable to see the life of training behind that line - and the waste bin full of crumbled paper with failed attempts.
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Post by AngryMonster » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:08 pm

For what its worth ... I reckon learning to draw on paper is a good process to go through.

Because you don't end up relying on 'undo' all the time. Instead you have to think about where you put your pencil - Which is a big thing - you are visualising the drawing.

If you went to a life drawing class with a cintiq or tablet - thats great but you (I) would spend half the time undoing and trying to get the perfect drawing ... instead of pounding out nice loose drawings.

I reckon pencil/paper makes you a faster and more efficient for when you hop on a computer.

I don't think computers stifle your creativity ... you just have to try your best not to get lazy. Once you have mastered that ... you will become one with the pixel and your work will be so creative that your cpu explodes (apparently!?)

In Saying all that ... we use Cintiqs at work - and we love them - and our work flow is paperless (but I have done my time) :oops: :wink:
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Post by mkelley » Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:33 pm

It's not just the title -- with the exception of those few short brainstorming guidelines the bulk of the information is about how much better pencil and paper is. But let's set that aside for a moment.

I think the biggest issue I have with his article is that it tends to be misleading. He doesn't appear to be talking about "creatvity" as most of us would define it here, but simply problem solving but both the title of his article as well as some things he writes appear to point to him talking about how to create things (he makes that confusion by starting off with the paragraph about folks being able to create movies and/or stories with the touch of a button).

It's true that problem solving involves creativity, and if that's what he wants to suggest I think he could have written it much clearer. And I think the title should have been "Problem Solving in a Computerized World" or some such.

But making a movie or writing a story isn't problem solving per se (unless we're talking about canned "Hollywood" type productions). Just like there are *some* creative aspects involved in problem solving, there are *some* problem solving aspects involved in creativity. But the two are very different beasts. Problem solving is a linear process and his tips aren't even particularly good for that.

If you sit down and follow his tips to try and "solve the problem" of creativity you'll be taking a very bad path -- it's anti-brainstorming, which is one of the tried and true methods of being creative. So let me see (doing it on the computer, right off the top of my head) if I can outline those steps.

1. Get started. Don't wait until you're feeling in the mood, or inspiration strikes, or the kids are quiet, or there's nothing else pressing. As the Nike ad says, just do it.

2. Using *whatever* tools you like, put your ideas down. Don't censor yourself and don't limit yourself. Put down any crazy thing that comes into your head, along with the other half dozen crazy things that *that* brings to mind. The biggest rule here, the number one key in the brainstorming process, is not to edit yourself.

Note that you may be thinking of writing a children's book and your ideas will come out with horror elements, blood and guts. That's okay -- you might be thinking the next Grimm fairy tales. Just don't second guess yourself during the brainstorming phase because you just never know.

3. Take a break. Just as important as getting started, now you need to leave the process for a while. How long doesn't really matter, you just need to get away and let the stuff you set on the paper/computer/easel percolate a bit. Come back to it a few minutes/hours/that evening/sometime later and start your editing process.

4. Edit, refine, create the finished product. Above all, don't be afraid to take chances! As someone pointed out in this thread, that's what creativity is all about. Your initial brainstorming efforts (in 2) should have involved a lot of chances, but even now as you refine things you can use the incredible power of the computer to save multiple versions/layers of your project, going down this or that pathway, until you find the treasures that await you.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:28 am

As to what is artistic talent rather than computer technical skills... two examples:

A computer artist years ago (before there were lots of cheap "off the shelf" consumer 3D applicaitons) who could "paint" or "create" beautiful 3D images with 1's and 0's. He typed in "machine language" directly to create these images.

An incredibly talented French programmer who lived in the mountains and didn't use the computer to write software. He wrote software with a pencil and paper... "long hand". Later he or someone else would transcribe his hand written code into the computer.

When you have that kind of gray area where technology and traditional media can cross over like that there is no way to determine which is "better" or which is "correct".

Please note a couple of points in that article that really bug me:
Video production is now possible such that almost anyone can make a semi-professional movie.
Only if you have the talent. Computers DO NOT give people talent. The computer gives everyone access to the same tools, just as when I was in high school and the football team broke into the art room supply closet and use the most expensive paint and the most expensive brushes to paint pep rally signs for the big game.

Using those high quality tools didn't make them artists.
Recently a student I know attending college was faced with a problem and gave me a call. He has been an avid computer and web user for over ten years. His teacher's problem requires basic project planning and problem solving skills.
If the student didn't have those skills it is NOT THE FAULT OF THE COMPUTER! If the student hasn't learned those processes then the teacher has failed or the student hasn't paid attention. Those two statements from that article imply failings of "computers" that aren't true. Those failings apply TO EVERYTHING whether you use a computer or a piece of paper.

How did Stephen Hawking write his books? Did he "sketch his ideas out on a yellow legal pad?" I doubt it. That's an extreme case (Stephen Hawking is a freaking genius after all) but it demonstrates my point.

I don't honestly believe that there is ANY difference between creativity on the computer or with pencil and paper. I am not the most talented artist in the world. I lack many skills I wish I had. The funny thing is my skills are the same whether I draw with pencil and paper or use the computer. My style is the same.

-vern
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DK
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Post by DK » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:53 am

Thanks for fixing that posting problem Vern.

I just had an interesting conversation with a fellow musician about this topic. They told me there is two ways that they compose music. The first is by simply playing the piano, playing through scales etc and sometimes, often by accident, they are inspired by a couple of notes. The second way is simply by clearing their mind and losing themselves completely in a mundane task like hanging out washing or taking a shower. Often a tune just pops into their head. I can see a parallel with the creation of music and the creation of animation using AS.
Personally, to create a character or a design I use both computer and a pencil. Most often I start in AS by dragging points around.....occasionally this is just not enough. That's when I pick up a pencil for extra inspiration.

When I posted the original article I honestly was not thinking about the pencil vs points issue but rather the process of inspiration some people go through to put a entire project together. To me there there are valid points to be had by all who have responded with the one exception... that I like Baloney.

Largely because I am a vegetarian. :)

D.K
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mkelley
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Post by mkelley » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:09 am

DK wrote: with the one exception... that I like Baloney.

Largely because I am a vegetarian. :)

D.K
<BG> Okay, but could I be forgiven when your symbol (indeed, the software program you created for kids' use) involves a frankfurter?

Then again, I suppose you can draw a cow without having to eat it <g>.
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DK
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Post by DK » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:21 am

Now THAT was INSPIRED by Baloney :)

D.K
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:45 am

This is an interesting discussion. I do tend to get a bit long winded about these things and get on a high horse so to speak. I use a pencil too and I will sketch ideas, although I don't do this all the time. Less often then more so. (because I want to get on the computer!). I just love the computer. Instant gratification... no smudgy hands, no eraser crumbs, no brushes to clean, no paint to dry. ;)

It doesn't matter what you use to get your ideas "on paper"... I just don't want anyone telling me my way is "creatively stifling".

p.s. I love baloney. I must, or else I wouldn't talk so much. ;)

-vern
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Banterfield
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Post by Banterfield » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:48 pm

Vern - what was the name of that brainstorming software you use? I've been looking for something decent to organize my thoughts.
Dave
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:14 pm

It's called "Inspiration":

http://www.inspiration.com/

They pitch it towards the educational "kids" market but it is also good for business. I use it to plan out web sites.

Hold on though before you purchase. I recently found a free open source tool that is nearly identical. I have to track it down though because I don't use it since I have the other one.

-vern
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Post by GardenGuy » Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:57 pm

I create artwork, music, writing stories, polymer clay creations, even crafts using goose eggs. I am one of those people who has an idea for creating something and tries it out. I have never worried about which tool I am using and have found that has allowed me to try (and to learn) many tools. It has also allowed me to find the tools I like the best, that I work well with and that allow me to be the most creative.

I suck at playing the keyboard, for example, and found that as I grew up I would learn new tools - electronic keyboards and drum machine instruments and tape multi-track recorders to record the idea I had at the time in an attempt to make up for my lack of skill on the keyboard. I also found all of those methods to be tedious and stifle my creativity. Once my vision of recording everything on my computer became possible, I rarely go outside of it to record anything anymore. I can use the computer to help me make those keyboard riffs my hands would never accomplish. I have 8 albums worth of music (and many hours not on albums) to attest to the fact that I can be productive and encourage my creativity much more with the computer than previous tools available to me. I couldn't even begin to envision myself trying to write down on paper what I wanted to record and have that somehow make me more creative when I actually recorded.

But when it comes to writing stories, I find that my creative spark disappears on the computer. Don't ask me why but the fresh bright blank white screen does somehow reduce my creative spark. I found that out when I sat down to write my first children's novel. I spent a few days trying to cozy up to my computer, then my laptop and finally decided that I felt best with a pencil and paper. Even though I knew I would have to spend time translating what I wrote down to my computer later I felt that my creativity was higher using that method. A sort children's novella and 33 - 300 word stories later, I am happy with that choice and found that more of my ideas flowed out using that method.

So back to my computer - I suck at drawing on paper and actually got a wacom tablet for Christmas this year after being frustrated with my lack of creativity outside of the computer. Yet for the first time I tried arylic painting and loved the forgiveness of the medium for capturing my ideas.

See those paintings and a few of my music and other creations at my website (paintings under a link to cafepress):

[url]http://www.michaeldrake.net

Now that I have a wacom I may very well try "acrylic" painting on the computer or I might just pull out the paints and rice paper and get my hands dirty. As long as I feel comfortable with the tool and I don't feel that creative spark diminish...I'm good to go. The article mentions "all those drop down menus" de-rail your creative process. Well if I switched from acrylic to watercolor in mid painting don't you think there'd be a little "down-time"? Once I'm on an "idea roll", I stay focused and don't let those inbetween times effect my thoughts. They are just a needed next step to where I want to go next.

But most importantly for me is that I DON'T try to limit myself but writing down my ideas or direction before I just start to create. I have NEVER envisioned my final completed creation before I started. That is to say I have an idea(s) to start working on but I would never limit myself to sticking to a preformulated plan for creating something under the preconceived notion that that will somehow make me more creative with the final product. Even notes I jot down for a story (so I don't forget) aren't written in stone (or graphite/carbon) and are "subject to change without notice" when I actually get down to writing.

So, when it comes to creativity, my motto is: Don't be a tool-bigot. Try it, you might like it!
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DK vs MKelley

Post by nanticokerailroad » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:24 pm

I think the biggest joke about the read is that the person used a computer and posted it on the internet! Why didn't he hand write it and publish it in the Times for everyone around the world to read. Just another butt head that wants to have his cake and eat it too! Mike
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DK
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Post by DK » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:22 pm

Nanticokerailroad subject heading: DK vs MKelly? Maybe we should start a new thread for that one :)
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