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Monday, October 5, 2009

iPhone Brushes: Sketches and Trials

This summer, I made a short blog post about the iPhone app "Brushes," which David Hockney was using to make morning sketches, and which Jorge Colombo had used to paint a cover for the New Yorker (the New Yorker's website keeps a blog titled "Finger Painting" where Colombo continues to post his iPhone paintings). Since then, I got an iPhone, mostly because I was sick of suffering a barely-functioning cell phone for the past year or so -- and partly because I wanted to try "brushes" out for myself.

These are my first few attempts -- painting with my finger on the screen. I found it really hard to control -- I'm used to drawing with a pencil, not fingerpainting. I tried using thin lines for the pic of my cat, trying to build little nests out of my scribbling -- then trying to go for some blending effects with wider brushes for the face below. I didn't mind the smeary look of the face, but the lack of control was getting frustrating. There are folks who can make amazing Brushes paintings with their fingers -- youtube has a bunch of clips -- but I ain't one of them.

At that point, I decided to spring for a stylus, and ended up getting a Pogo Stylus. That was a lot more comfortable to use -- it felt more like drawing. It's funny that using a stick feels like a more intimate and controlled experience than using my fingers, but there you have it. Sometimes the "extensions of man" really do supersede your actual appendages.

Finally, in the Reno airport, things started to click. I had a few faces to pick from, and enough time to worry them into something. You can actually export quicktime movies of your drawing process -- below are movies of two airport faces. The first was quick & loose, the second one I sketched out in the airport, then finished on the flight -- it took me the better part of a trip to San Diego. You can see me figure out the guy needs an ear at the last second. With some judicious editing, you could actually do a William Kentridge-style animation right on your iPhone.

I've also been enjoying the camera on the phone. I like that it's so susceptible to motion -- you can get some nice washy effects from it if you train yourself have have an unsteady hand.

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