Useful Set Of Desktop Tools Every Artist Should Know About

Designer, digital painter, 3d - and concept artists already spend a great deal on the computer to produce art, so it is inevitable that they come across and share useful tools (often free ones).

This post aims to showcase some of the most useful nifty time saver that can help you brighten everyday tasks. In my recent post I wrote already about useful website management add-ons such as start for chrome, this one goes deeper into the workflow of artists who either use the computer to assist them and is especially useful for those working directly in Photoshop with a tablet.

Personally I use 80% of them - the newest addition refboard does a great job in being a replacement for the deskpins method to make reference images float on top of any application. Many apps are also available on the web, which makes it easy to use on mobile devices as well, such as the lighting tool, model drawing practice tool and webchemy - which allows to paint abstract figures like alchemy does.

Reference Board Tool (Download): 
This little AIR application will allow you to gather images from your library into one or more boards that float on top of any other application and thus allow you to draw from them, it also allows you to save boards, very useful when working on various projects.
Another version with more function and web application would be
An alternative solution I used to have before I knew about refboard, was using deskpins to pin any image with nomacs image viewer on the desktop (also floating on top through desk pins - which also allows to use a hotkey for pinning) the downside of this was I had to close or minimize every single image.

Lighting Tools (web):  
The first link is probably the best, it allows you to set up a virtual photography and thus lighting studio. The second tool is for download and probably won´t work with 64bit systems.
The third link will start with a audio commentary, explaining the visual depiction.

Photoshop Light and Coloring Actions (Download): 
Tony Kuyper explains his action panels and offers these as downloads for Photoshop, you better read his explanation to get the whole scope of usefulness.

Tablet Pressure Tools (Download): 
The first link is an app that helps to change the pressure level so that it becomes easier on your wrist. The second link is to add a widget that gives you options for better line drawing in a way that you get a handle to pull smooth lines.

Drawing Model Reference (web): 
Model references are all over the Internet, when it comes to study, the first tool helps you to randomly find images to show (for speed paintings or life drawing sessions) and the second link shows animated sequences, which go further to explain movements, muscles and behaviour.

Color Tools (web): 
Some web application that helps you to understand gamut masking and color schemes, regardless which software you use.

 Screencaps Database (web): 
Screen captures from movies, also called movie stills, are frequently used for inspiration on colors and composition, but it is also useful to draw them for exercise.

Anatomy Proportions Tools (web + app): 
Anatomical proportions are a valuable thing to know as an artist, this tool somewhat helps you with measurements by calculating the correct proportions.

Texture-Ripper (Download): 
A nice tool to rip textures from photographs and to help apply them in your workflow that requires repeated patterns and such.

PS Color Wheels (Download):
The color wheel is a very useful guide to work with colors in any program. Photoshop lacks this feature but there are lots of paid and free options. I recommend the Painters wheel from Coolorus and Anastasiy, the latter provides nice features such as tone-lock to always match the right brightness when changing colors.

Work-Life-Balance Tools (Download):
Basically the first is a Windows, the latter an OSX approach, both programs interrupt your work to remind you doing a break - to prevent wrist injuries or other health issues.

Photoshop Perspective/Grid Tools (Download): 
Some options to help you set up perspective grid in Photoshop for correct perspective drawing.

Photoshop Brushes Helper (Download) 
Helps creating brushstrokes to visually sort brushes in a new way.

Symmetry In Photoshop (Download): 
Symmetry in Photoshop is a much desired option and yet only achievable with workarounds

Abstract Painting Tools (web)
For relaxation or to inspire, or simply to produce patterns to use in your artworks.:

Special thanks for suggestions go out to: Anker Illustration & Wolkenfels.

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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