Easy Applications To Make You More Like A Professional

Hard work, that’s supposed to be the secret to success… right? Technology changes that. Humans are the dominate species on this planet because of tools. We can make things that make our life easier. That’s what software developers do. They’re creating software to make your life easier. Their hard work is your gain, but some are really exceptional at their trade. There are applications that are so simple to use, so powerful by design, they can replace years of study and training.

This journey to an easier life starts in a college classroom. I was a photography student, but I was given four times as many art classes than photography classes. One of these artsy classes was called Figure Drawing. I didn’t know what this meant. I thought figures — like circles and squares. I was told to be prepared for the first day, to bring a sketch pad and charcoal. So there I was, sitting in the back of a Figure Drawing class. I was looking around to see my classmates when I noticed one of the girls was wearing a really short shirt. I leaned over in my chair to discover — she’s not wearing a shirt!

Daz Studio - VictoriaI quickly learned that “Figure Drawing” was code for nude models. And while it seems like this should be a fun time, it was actually an awkward experience. I wasn’t an illustrator. Out of nowhere I’m expected to render this girl’s body with cheap thin paper and messy black ash. I did manage to draw something half-way decent, but it really didn’t make me a better artist. I ended up dropping the class and switching schools — to something less artsy.

I could have wasted tens-of-thousands of dollars trying to become an artist, or I could do what I’m doing today — using an application called DAZ Studio. In seconds I can create photorealistic images. I’ve used this artwork for websites, videos and games. DAZ Studio is basically like playing with dolls and toys in a 3D environment. New models are available for license through the DAZ3D.com website — and they’re fairly cheap!

If you want that sketchy look, like the one I was supposed to be creating in my Figure Drawing class, there’s an application in the Mac App Store called SketchMee. Just select a picture, mess around with the settings and then let the application sketch. It does in seconds what would take me years to master.

True, these two applications are not full replacements for actual artists and advanced 3D animation software, but it’s a great way to give an art project a jumpstart. Even just to impress your family members it can be fun. Use the artwork you create and then chuck it into Comic Life. You can make your own comic books with an easy to use interface.

So now that you’ve got all this great artwork, you might want to share it with your friends. Creating your own website is a great way to do that. WordPress is great software for managing a website. It can be installed on a compatible web server in minutes. There is one problem though. The default theme might not be the professional look that you’re searching for. That’s why there’s a great program called Artisteer. Without any HTML/CSS code, you can create a theme for your WordPress site — like the one that’s currently on this website. Artisteer also works with other Content Management Systems, like Joomla, Blooger, Drupal and even SharePoint support is coming.

Coding, it’s such a chore… isn’t it? I don’t understand why that’s a respected skill in technology circles. I’ve seen it in job descriptions… “Must be able to hand-code HTML.” What year is this… 1994? Would you hire a carpenter and say, “Must not use any power tools.” Perhaps this is a crude measure of intelligence and skill, but I see coding as a colossal waste of time. Computers are tools for humans, so they should speak to us.

That’s why I like GameSalad. It’s an app making program with English and Math as the programming languages. I’m the author of The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook, so it’s not unusual for me to think highly of GameSalad. Yet, why do I think highly of the software? It goes back to a programming language called BASIC. I remember the Commodore 64 and the TRS-80, with commands like “PRINT” and “GOTO”. That was my first introduction to desktop computers. But as the hardware became obsolete, BASIC became useless. I was supposed to be learning something called COBOL, as that was the trendy language to learn… and then there was C… and C++… and Java… and JavaScript… and PHP… and blah blah blah… it’s completely backwards. The computer serves me. It should speak my language. GameSalad has a drag-and-drop interface. The actual coding, which is in Lua and Apple’s Objective-C, is hidden from the developer. GameSalad functions like an interpreter, making it easier to make apps.

BONUS APP: When you’re done making your new iOS App, there’s a program called Sound Stage, for easily creating video demonstrations of your apps.

This easy-to-use software is only in the beginning stages. As technology advances, this software will advance and become more prevalent. That might put a lot of artists and developers out of work. Why pay tens-of-thousands of dollars to build an app or website when there’s cheap — or even free — software to get the job done?

Historically, technology has replaced the back-breaking jobs. Most people (other than the ones losing their jobs) like to see robots build things faster and cheaper. What happens when the “creative” jobs are the ones being replaced?