Zip Art lets even the totally talent-free express their creative potential
Some people seem to be born with great artistic talent, able to produce amazing work with just a few strokes of a pencil or some well-placed dabs of paint. If, like the rest of us, you’re not so lucky, though, you’re probably going to need to help to produce anything which deserves to be called “art”. And that’s where Zip Art comes in.
The program was created by light sculptor, scientific artist and former physicist Paul Friedlander, in an effort to help anyone, even the totally talent-free, express their creative potential. And while, as a software developer Friedlander is clearly a great artist, Zip Art is an interesting way to produce appealing abstract images, often in just a few seconds.
Launch the program and you’ll probably be a little confused by the odd interface, which ignores convention and does things very much its own way. Fortunately the core of Zip Art is very straightforward: just choose a drawing tool -- waves, curves, rectangles, and a whole lot more -- then click and drag with the mouse. And immediately you’ll be generating colourful abstract designs, and shaping them however you like.
Despite Zip Art’s small size (the core executable is a mere 506KB), there are plenty of options here. You can change the colour palette, background and pen width, for instance. You get various customisations to help tweak the program’s algorithms, and it can even record your efforts, replaying them later as an animation.
And what might you be able to create? There’s a small gallery on Friedlander’s site which will give you a general idea, but even our brief experience with the program suggested most people will probably be able to produce something much better. If you like this kind of abstract imagery then there’s a lot of fun to be had here.
You’ll probably have to fight through more than a little frustration first, though, because the program’s interface is something of a mess. Zip Art doesn’t use regular toolbars, buttons, help menus or anything else, choosing instead to generate everything itself, and initially it all feels quite strange. Persevere, though, and you’ll soon be feeling more at home, producing spectacular abstract designs with the absolute minimum of effort.