So, you’ve decided that a career in creative arts is the one for you, but maybe you’re not quite sure on what particular area you’d like to work in. You might also be looking to develop a solid foundation so that you have an understanding of the work that your contemporaries are doing, or because you like the idea of working as a generalist. If any of that sounds familiar, then this is probably the right blog for you.
I’m going to be working through some of best pieces of creative software to start with so that you have a strong understanding and knowledge base to build upon in the future. These pieces of software might not be the best of their kind out there, but they are the best place to start.
Even if you’ve never been anywhere near the digital arts, you’ll probably still know of Photoshop. This ubiquitous software is used everywhere from games development and video production to web design and journalism. Photoshop is a robust tool that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, and although it is not particularly specialised in any individual area, it is able to perform well in the vast majority of tasks. If you’re going to be picking up any piece of creative software, it should probably be Photoshop.
Some people might recommend GIMP, the free alternative to Photoshop, but GIMP can require a lot of manipulation to perform the same functions as Photoshop. Since you’re just getting started, it’s also worth using Photoshop so that you can familiarise yourself with the Adobe UI, since Adobe produces a significant portion of the industry standard creative software.
3D modelling is a complicated subject to learn, and I’ll be honest when I say that Blender won’t make it any easier for you. Blender has a rather inscrutable UI, but it is both free and powerful when used for a wide range of different tasks. I would recommend altering the Blender UI and controls to match the industry standard software (Maya & 3Ds Max) so that if you ever move over to these pieces of software you won’t be entirely lost.
Blender can be difficult to master but is an extremely robust tool that will see you through your first years in the creative industry and beyond. If you’re looking to make your experience of learning Blender smoother, then you can take advantage of great tutorials and educational packages online.
Learning to effectively use video editing software is a valuable skill that will help you in almost all creative careers and is a particularly attractive thing to list on your resume/portfolio. While Adobe Premiere Pro might be a more powerful piece of software, Sony Vegas is a fairly comprehensive choice for video editing software. A license for Sony Vegas is less expensive than Premiere Pro, and the fundamentals of using the software mostly transfer universally between editing tools.
Audacity is an old workhorse for audio recording and editing, that is neither particularly powerful, not particularly efficient. However, Audacity offers just features and controls to develop a baseline knowledge in audio recording and editing. Most importantly, it is also free, so there is absolutely no harm in downloading it first and using it for some small projects, before moving on the more professional (and expensive) software.