When you’re stuck for what to blog, or you’re stressed out, what do you do to relax? Besides taking the dogs for a walk, I enjoy two main stress relievers: strumming on the guitar or creating “art”. I’m not a painter, and I’m an inconsistent pen and ink sketcher at best. I can spend 36 hours one weekend doing a charcoal reproduction of a David Bowie photo, then I can not pick up a pen or pencil again for several years. I can “draft” objects, but that’s kind of boring. However, I did discover an incredible 3D program called Bryce, which I started using around 1999.
Bryce is unlike any “low-end” 3D software I’ve tried – what with its photorealistic landscapes, architecture and animations. It’s a great way to implement some Art Therapy, if you don’t feel like the traditional method of using paint or chalk, etc. You don’t have to be “troubled” to use art therapy. It’s a way to relax and reduce stress, and can spark other types of creativity.
What’s even better is that slightly older versions of the software are free. Grab a fully-functioning, non-limited version of Bryce 5.5 at C|Net’s Dowload.com. (This one is Windows only, but other older versions do run on Mac.) These free downloads are often time-limited, so act fast if you’re interested. Then set aside a couple of hours to download the program – about 130Mb. Take that time to browse various Bryce galleries to get inspired. (I get addicted, so I have to leave all my Bryce sessions until after my day’s work is done.)
Here’s an example. I like to throw nonsense together for juxtaposition and to see what works. Here’s a sketch for a “waterworld” sci-fi animated project that I’m working. The world creation is in the early stages, and there are elements that probably don’t work.
The key thing is to not aim for anything in particular. Just have fun and create. Oh, and try grouping a bunch of reflective, metallic metaballs, then move them around for undulating animations set to ambient music. (See the video below as an example of the fun you can have.)
Other 2D/3D Imaging Software
Some other great free 2D/3D software to check out:
- DAZ Studio – for 3D figure posing and animation. You can export to Bryce (same company). There are also free figures available.
- POV-Ray – Photorealistic 3D modelling tool based on “ray tracing”.
- Blender – 3D content creation and animation.
- Terragen – Photorealistic landscape/ terrain generator with flythrough animation capability. (Non-commercial use is free if you can find them.) A version of Terragen was used to render parts of Star Trek: Nemesis.
- Inkscape – 2D vector graphics editor very similar to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. Warning: It’s still in pre-version 1.0, and while it has amazing features, it often crashed on me – just itself, not my computer.
Unless I’m working on something specific, I only use the above software casually, as some of the apps can get addictive. (These days, there are also loads of videos at YouTube and elsewhere that will help you along but take a lot of time to view.)
Note: Some of the above are multi-platform (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and more.)
Art therapy works for me, and often stimulates my creativity. What do you do to relax?