Smartphones opened limitless possibilities of throwing your free time out of the window. These range from push-y ‘sync’ of your business email, to games with names evocative of hours of sophisticated fun, such as iPeePeeNo, I am not making this up.. But are there more creative uses too?
As the title indicates, the answer is yes. Join me for a look at some interesting artistic tools available for the iPhone. (Of course, you can find similar applications for other platforms too.) When you check the galleryActivate galleries by clicking on the picture (a magnifying glass appears), or click this link. Navigate between pictures by clicking the right or left half of the image. or the audio example, bear in mind that I am not an artist: Using samples of my own work eliminates the risk of infringing someone’s intellectual property, but more importantly demonstrates that really anyone can create digital art.
Let me start with some music you can play while reading. You might recognize a feeble attempt at the solo from the 2nd movement of Antonín Dvořák’s symphony “From the New World”Interestingly, Neil Armstrong took the recording of the “New World” symphony on the moon-landing mission of Apollo 11.. It was played on, and recorded with iPhone using Ocarina. It serves to showcase the application’s sound and dynamics but to do any justice to Dvořák, I recommend you listen to an orchestra rendition of this piece.
Ocarina benefits from a very clever idea: It combines multi-touch capability with the microphone input to simulate a wind instrument: You play notes by covering the “holes” and modulate the volume by how hard you blow at the microphone. You can share your creations and listen to other Ocarina players around the world too. It can be not only fun but also educationalOcarina on the iPhone has only four holes. To spread the available sixteen tones over a usable range, not all half tones are available, so you need to select “the right ocarina” for the song by choosing the ‘mode’ and ‘key note’ to match the scale.. But for the beginning, you can find plenty of songs on the internet with picture reference of how to play.
A wonderful painting application that uses “only” the touch features is Brushes. It allows you to zoom in up to 800% to really capture the details, and all your “brush” strokes are recorded, so they can be recreated at higher resolutions. Brushes has an enviable user interface. All features are readily accessible and the design is clean and clear. A good example is the dialog for manipulating layersThe layers are a recently added feature. The examples you see here were actually created without layers. But for experienced people, this can be very powerful feature..
If you like type faces be sure to check my article on typography on the web but also the iPhone incarnation of the online TypeDrawing project. The difference is, you can paint the text with your finger. On the other hand, if you are more into music, there are numerous applications to explore. One sophisticated example is Guitarist although it lacks the volume dynamicsSomething you could actually have on a piano simulation depending on where on the key (down/up) you press. I am not sure this method is around, and if I (or you) could claim a patent for this.. If only the touch screen was larger and registered how hard you press!
Granted, smartphones are not a platform for creating sophisticated art. But as with many things digital, it is actually easier to learn and do things because you can easily try or amend until you get it right. And I know because the only time I painted in my life before trying out Brushes was in elementary school.