The PC revolution has been great for opening up the arts…

One of the best things to have happened during the ‘home computer revolution’ of the last 25 years is the development of programs and apps which put the creative arts within reach for all.

Photos, drawing, painting, filmmaking, music recording and more have all become something everyone can do. Well, we say ‘can do’. We mean ‘have a go at’. In every art form or creative endeavour if you don’t already have that ‘special something’ (the eye, the ear, the idea, the joined-up thinking) then you’re almost certainly not going to achieve ground-breaking work but you will have a great deal of fun along the way.

That ‘special something’ is important – but it’s not crucial if you’re just looking to have fun or hone your skills. It’s actually sometimes hard to quantify what the exact ‘x factor’ is in the arts. But whether you have natural talent or not, it’s always worth educating yourself to complement technical skills.

If video editing is your thing, and you fancy ‘getting into it’ on your PC, then Adobe Premiere is the ‘go to’ software… But you should probably study films and TV a little bit before you have a go. Give yourself a crash course in what’s great about films. Read around the aesthetics of the subject a little bit – books or online are great resources. Watch the great movies.

JAWS (Universal)

Take Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws, for instance. Study what works in this film and spend some time working out why. Look at things like the pacing of the editing, the way shots are framed, the use of sound, the way music is used, the quality of the dialogue… absolutely everything is an opportunity to learn something – and Jaws is not only a bit of a source from which you can learn (and steal), it’s a blummin’ good romp so you’ll be entertained as well as educated!

You can pick any film, really, and learn something from it – even if it’s how not to do something! But here’s a brief list of some very well-made and beautiful looking movies worth studying in detail: The Godfather, The Exorcist, Doctor Zhivago, Amelie, Citizen Kane, Pulp Fiction, The Shape Of Water and Goodfellas. Obviously make sure you watch them on a 4K UHD TV for that ultra-special quality!

Even at a basic level (with basic meaning the app does 97% of the work), you are now able to use your mobile phone to churn out stunning pictures. Imagery you wouldn’t have dreamed possible even only ten years ago. Adding filters or AI-produced backgrounds and effects… On your PC it’s even better.

Things like Photoshop have made ‘advanced digital image manipulation’ a possibility for those who are prepared to put in a bit of time to learn tips and tricks. Very high quality design work and fine art projects can be undertaken in Photoshop. And Illustrator is great for those who prefer to create their own imagery from scratch. Make sure you have a decent graphics card and a powerful enough processor in your PC for any sort of work with images.

A very good laptop for creatives is the Microsoft Surface Pro, available in various iterations. If you’re working on complex illustrations, a more powerful model is probably advisable. But for sketching and low-level digital image manipulation the ‘budget’ models will be more than enough. Surface devices are slick and capable, and a range of quality accessories make it even more attractive.

Obviously a renowned name in the world of design is the Mac. Apple’s flagship PC has been a longstanding part of the digital design revolution. One of the finest examples of highly capable Apple devices is the Mac Mini. Any modern Mac is suitable for most design work, but if you’re a light user or starting out in design and can’t afford the higher end Macs, a Mac Mini will be perfect.

Things like Adobe Premiere have put video editing capabilities within reach for a generation of Spielberg wannabes. And things like Audacity (which is relatively basic but a free and easily-findable software download) have made control of audio-editing a relatively simple process. There are more technically involved programs available on the market for music-making.

Even mid-level like Garage Band requires a bit of a learning curve… Musician Lloyd Cole recorded a whole album on his Mac in the early 2000s, using relatively rudimentary software. But Audacity (if you don’t mind a bit of cutting-and-pasting and ‘sort of’ hands-on work) brings a level of satisfaction the more advanced stuff can’t quite match. You’ll also find loads of help, and tips and tricks, in online forums. In terms of your PC, a decent sound card will help you here! Home recording no longer means lo-fi…

In a way, the advances in arts software are a digital equivalent to the punk revolution in music during the mid-to-late 1970s. Back then young musicians were encouraged by the idea that “all you need is a guitar and three chords”. And from out of that boom of punk and new wave creativity arose some truly spectacular art and long-lasting legacies – think of Joy Division, for a start!

We’d encourage you to have a go at whatever takes your fancy. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as being creative. Of course, the finished ‘product’ can be worthwhile, but it’s ‘the journey’ to reach it which ultimately proves more rewarding. Go on, have a go!

Ebuyer stocks many PCs capable of assisting you in your creative endeavours, including the highly reputable AlphaSync workstations. You must also remember that any creative software you install on your device should be licensed. We stock a variety of licenses here. Check out our website for creative products here.

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