Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Tuesday 18th January 2011 - Alchemy Drawing Project

http://al.chemy.org/ - This is Alchemy. 

"Alchemy is an open drawing project aimed at exploring how we can sketch, draw, and create on computers in new ways. Alchemy isn’t software for creating finished artwork, but rather a sketching environment that focuses on the absolute initial stage of the creation process. Experimental in nature, Alchemy lets you brainstorm visually to explore an expanded range of ideas and possibilities in a serendipitous way."

I was introduced to this powerful little programme about a year ago, although I didn’t actively experiment with it until yesterday, and I must say, if suffering artistic block, or simply feeling like playing around, this tool is amazing. It is in no way a substitute for suites such as Painter and Photoshop, but, it isn’t meant to be. Purposefully leaving out tools such as undo, layers and complex rendering options, it is instead more of a digital sketcher. 

My first dabble with Alchemy
The best analogy I can think of is, it’s a collection of those things you keep in the studio, which have no obvious place in a finely honed finished piece, but which make interesting marks and so you keep for that day when they seem an apt weapon to attack a canvas with. Its tools are simple, but interesting. Having options to use the mic input to create marks, pen pressure, manipulating typography into abstract polygons and even using images selected at random from files leaves the user with loads of ways to amass a variety of shapes, which can then be ported into Photoshop, abused, and possibly implemented into another composition or used as one by itself. 

Left; the final sketch, Right; the Alchemy product.
As well as the variety of brush inputs, there are also a number of effects one can then use to adjust the image (the image you create is a vector, so is open to very complex changes), my favourite of these is ‘Mirror’ which really helps to spark creativity.

After using 'Mirror'; Robots are a common subject, due to the angular results Alchemy offers.
The best way to record these thumbnails is through Alchemy’s screen capturing function. This saves your canvas at a specific time (I use 2 minutes). And once the session is finished, it saves all pages in a pdf, which you can then browse, use in combining multiple thumbnails, and I guess a lot more that I haven’t found out yet. 

The results of 15 minutes playing whilst using the capture function.
 For a free programme, this is definitely something everybody should use, even if it's just when bored, the human mind is the best pattern recognizing machine in the world (how we see faces in clouds, crisps, toast, etc), and Alchemy really makes the most of it, letting the user create silhouettes, then reading their own ideas into it for further rendering. Futuristic space ships, robotic killing machines, an arm, a leg, a wing, have a play!

This is Andrew (A.k.a. Android) Jones and his take on Alchemy. He explains, creates, manipulates and polishes it all much better than me... But then again... I do hope that pro's would.

In conclusion; Alchemy offers a refreshing way to be innovative and original with your concepts, allowing your subconscious to identify silhouettes, ones you may not have thought of otherwise. It's an interesting addition to the beginning of a practitioners work flow, which many have agreed is the hardest part - formulating the idea. If anyone else is like me; they'll jump at free ideation software!

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