Making Digital Abstract Art
October 22, 2012
I’ve mentioned before my love of abstract art. There’s something about swirly masses of color on canvas applied in a random fashion that makes me swoon! I’ve tried in the past to make my own authentic abstract artwork but after hours of time spent applying brush stokes to canvas, I’ve never been satisfied with the final result. I can never get the brush strokes to look like they should or how I see them in my head, but I’ve promised myself someday I’ll take the time to get it right.
Meanwhile, I was thinking about a way to add some art to walls at the emergency shelter great room that is nearing completion and I came up with a way to make digital abstract art without ever picking up a paintbrush or canvas.
Making digital abstract art can be done in Photoshop but I know many of you don’t have Photoshop so here’s how to make a comparable version of digital abstract art with a free online tool comparable to Photoshop called Pixlr that I’ve mentioned before.
Start by opening a new document in the Advanced Pixlr Editor and choose a large resolution with a minimum 2500 wide x 3600 px height (so you can print at a quality resolution). Being by selecting the “Brush” tool that looks like a paintbrush, then select the “MORE” tab to add additional paintbrushes.
You’ll open the Brush browser and you’ll see the Smudge, Charcoal, and Dirt brushes – click “Add” and these brushes will now be available under the Brush tool for your use.
Next, choose your brush from among the collection and enlarge the diameter.
Choose your color by triggering the color Selector tool.
After you’ve chosen your color, start “painting” by dragging your brush on the blank canvas. (Note, to get the color extra intense, you have to go over that painted section a few times.)
Use the same Color Selector tool to change color and add a second color on top.
One way to erase is with Edit>Undo but it will only erase your last step or most recent brush stroke.
A better way to do it is to use Layers. Each time you choose a new brush, add a new Layer. That way if you want to go back 5 steps and erase the blue layer you can without undoing all the work after that. As you layer, name them “Blue 1”, “Red 1” etc.
In the future, checking or unchecking the box will remove that particular layer and not force you to “Undo” everything else.
A few more tips:
1. To use a color you’ve used before, choose the Colorpicker tool to select any color from the colors you’ve already used (it looks like an eyedropper) and then next click on the color on your painting that you want to use again.
2. Experiment with different brushes to change the edges of the brush strokes so they’re more like a real paintbrush.
3. Rotate the canvas under the Image function to use the brushes at different angles for a more authentic look.
I used Brush #868 along the edges a lot to achieve this look.
4. It’s a good idea to save your artwork after you’ve done a few steps. You can save it as a JPEG or PNG or BMP but also a layered Pixlr (PXD) document in case you want to work on it in the future and preserve all the multiple layers. This is important because a couple of times the program shut down on me without warning – not sure why – just make sure you save every few steps and you won’t lose your artwork.
It took me about 90 minutes to create four separate bright colored abstract “paintings”
And here they are framed on the wall.
I printed each 11 x 14” for $3 at my local Costco, spray painted some inexpensive frames red and there you have it, original art for pennies!
I chose red for the frames because that’s the accent color I’m using in the great room over at the emergency shelter, but you can imagine them in any color you love that goes with your chosen palette.
It’s not the same as original abstracts – there’s nothing quite like an original luminous work on a canvas with amazing texture and color, but it’s the next best thing. You can create your own abstract art in any palette that appeals to you. It’s an affordable substitute, especially in a series or displayed in a gallery wall!