Okay, so computers.
If you’re considering Art School or are a Freshman in Art School you’ll find out just how important having a computer is. An increasing amount of Art Schools are requiring students to have a laptop upon entry. You may be saying “Hey guy on tumblr, I have little or no money, how can I get a laptop, that cost fucking money!” And you’re totally right. You have a few options and none of them involve turning tricks for money.
First of all, and I’m sure everyone has told you this, but used computers stores aint a half bad option to check out. They’re a little more than they cost on the internet (because that’s how the seller makes a profit!) but you can get some meaningful input from a real person. Ask around and see if anyone has a used laptop - family are especially good sources for that.
You can always go through Ebay and Amazon to find a used or refurbished laptop and a there are some trustworthy venders on those sites.
Now if you’re not currently employed or make next to nothing, don’t worry. There are grants and loans to help less fortunate students pay for college and in some cases may pay for your computer and supplies, depending on scholarships and etc. When your tuition gets payed up, you may find yourself with a refund check from the college-
DO NOT USE THAT CHECK ON WEED AND BEER YOU SODDING IDIOT!
Instead when you get it, place it in a bank account and buy a laptop and if you afford it, the software your school may tell you that you need. If you happen to have enough left over for a dime or a bottle of something cheap and strong, I can’t say I never did that.
Now as to what sort of computer, that depends on alot of things. There are some pretty emphatic people out there who will tell you that a particular OS matters and as a person who has used Windows, Mac and Linux its really just a matter of what you prioritize and what you spend your free time doing. Windows are great for games and will typically kick a Mac’s ass at running a current gen video game. Macs are very hassle free and are designed that you don’t need to know programming, which is good for someone who doesn’t.
Specs are also a thing. You’re going to need a hard drive with at least 500gb, especially if you’re in photo or animation. You need a video card running at at least 2.0 Ghz. If you’re getting something with at least Windows Vista (for windows) or Mac OSX 10.5 (for Macs) then hypothetically you should be good to go.
So I guess, do the research and get the computer that fits your budget? It’s really up to you.
K, so now we move onto the stuff inside the computer.
Just like laptops, a number of art schools are requiring you to get required software (most often Adobe CS6 and Windows Office). These will be used for your homework assignments, both Liberal Arts and freshman art classes.
Now some of you may be like “random tumblr guy, I don’t want to use computers, they aren’t real and technology is the degradation of art.”
Shut the fuck up and deal. Take your long board and your handlebar mustache and your kombucha tea and deal.
Adobe Software is usually extremely important. CS6 Design & Web Premium is the package my school (and many others) use. CS6 Is the last non-cloud based version of the software. The ‘Creative Cloud’ is non-disk software that must be downloaded from the website. You’ll likely get discount if your school is endorsing the product, which may shave a few bucks off the price.
It has all the basics for Illustrators, Photographers, Web Designers & Animators. It contains:
Flash Professional CS6
This package runs for at least $580 to $600. It’s pricy I know. Combined with the laptop you may be looking at least a grand.
Let’s not forget that microsoft office runs for about $80
if you’re animation, you’ll eventually begin using Toon Boom
It’s $174 dollars for the full studio, but alot of the animators I know work exclusively on campus at school computers and rarely needed the full studio.
If this is getting overwhelming, I have some alternatives.
First be aware that everything I suggest I have done at some point or another.
If you’re an illustrator and you like to work digitally, here are some options:
Gimp is a free-ware digital painting program. The user interface take a little getting used to but it’s not bad. It’s free, but my personal opinion is that it deserves to be free. It’s available for windows and mac os.
Next is Paint Tool Sai. It’s used alot by the anime crowd is basically Japanese photoshop…if photoshop were only meant for painting. The interface is good, the running price is under 80 dollars, but the free trial is cool. It also allows you to save photshop documents, which is incredibly useful when you want to fool your teachers. Sai is made for Windows only, but there are extensions out on the web to run it on mac- results may vary.
Firealpaca is also a free program that works on both mac and windows. It’s efficient and runs well, but the interface is somewhat lacking. The brushes are limited, but as with all these programs, you can find custom brush sets on places like DeviantArt and tumblr.
Then there’s Inkscape, which is a freeware vector program, making it similar to Illustrator. You can get it for both windows and macs.
Despite the fact that I’m showing you these programs, your professor wil more than likely demand to see the document you made, meaning if they demand a phoshop document, you better damn well give them a .psd file.
If you’re extremely hard up and have no, but still need photoshop I would suggest this: http://portableappz.blogspot.com/search?q=adobe
Portable apps are programs that have stripped to their barebones and can be run off a flash drive if need be, ensuring if you load it onto your laptop it shouldn’t have too much trouble running them. Beware of formatting issues, sometimes saving a document may be trickier than expected.
For you animation folks, I’d suggest Pencil as an alternative to ToonBoom
It has a similar interface to ToonBoom, and is also a free program. It’s available for windows and macs.
When if comes to writing programs, with the ability to write office documents and make spreadsheets I recommend
Open Office is Free and has virtually identical tools to Microsoft Office, with the ability to create files in the same format as MS office programs, and I would argue it’s actually better. Like a lot of these freeware programs, you can find this for both mac and windows.
If all else fails and you’re in a pinch, these guys may be your only hope:
The pirate bay is a limitless source of illegal material. It’s easy to find programs on there, its hard finding the key to use the program. If you want to use pirate bay, you’ll need a bittorrent program such a utorrent or bittorrent. If you take this route, be aware that legal ramifications are always possible.
I hope this has helped someone. My goal is to help you solve the financial struggle of being an art student as fast as possible- time is for rich kids.
May the winds guide you
is the package my school (and many others) use.