One tool that accounts for about 15-20% of my art creations (all of abstract art, basically) is ancient by today's standards. It's from an open source image manipulation program called GIMP, which you can download from GIMP.org. (To give you some idea of what I mean by ancient - I've been using this program since it launched in 1996 - 24 years. )
|Some of the artwork I've created using GIMP QBist.|
For it's time, it was amazing - a real challenger to PhotoShop when there was damn little out there - and certainly nothing that was free. While it's still a unique and valuable tool, it's become slow and a little clunky compared to its rivals which, thanks to the subscription model, have become much more affordable.
Even so, there is one tool that will always keep me coming back to GIMP - QBist. If you have GIMP installed, it's buried under Filters --> Render --> Pattern--> and at the bottom "QBist".
It's more of a toy than a tool, for me. I use it the way other people use coloring books - to relax. You're given small (really too small) dialog box with 9 randomly generated gradient/fractal renders. Click on one, and 8 more appear with the one chose in the middle. The generations of new images aren't exactly random - but they're not predictable either. Click away before you mean to, and the design you were thinking about keeping will be gone and irretrievable.
My process is simply click the boxes until something vaguely pleasing appears then choose that one. Wait 30-60 seconds for GIMP to render it into the size of canvas I'd already selected. Once I decide that's the one I'm going with, I export it as .png and open it in PhtoScape X or something similar to manipulate it. It's not that GIMP doesn't have the tools, just that it's so slow that using its tools is a little painful.
I've attached my workflow pictures to this post to give you an idea of what I do with it. If you're into fractal or abstract art, you might want to give this free tool a go. It's slow, but I find it worth it. It makes me slow down, set aside any expectations, and just play. Sometimes I end up with a great image to work with - sometimes I don't. But I always feel better after I play.
|Getting to QBist in GIMP|
|The QBist Dialog Box - that's as big as gets, folks.|
|The next set of generated thumbnails. Just keep clicking until you find one you like.|
|The image I finally settle on to play with. I may still use this for other projects.|
|Getting the shape, structure and basic palette I wanted to work with in PhotoScape X|
|My final version of this particular piece - "Abstract Peach". Beginning to end about 30 minutes.|