Digital art would not be possible without several programs available on the market. These programs aid in everything from rendering humans to creating graphics effects which manually would take several hours.
In short, digital art software allows those of us who were born with two left hands to create like the pros.
If you want to get started in digital art, try the programs described below. And, most importantly, read the freakin' manuals, there's tons of good information in them!
Bryce is one of the most complete and useful "computer landscape generation for dummies" programs there is. Bryce allows you to create virtual landscapes, with everything from mountains to trees to bodies of water. The textures included are quite nice, and surprisingly real in some cases (check out the water texture on Ice Fantasy).
Bryce can also import files from other programs such as Poser, which allows you to render everything in one piece, and saves you a bit of time on the postprocessing part.
If you're like me, and were born with two left hands for drawing human figures, Poser is a major help for those scenes requiring virtual actors.
Poser allows you to render many types of beings, from men and women to dogs and cats, even Robotech style machinery is included in the basic package. Most characters can be easily adjusted to meet your needs in terms of fisiology, anatomy, clothing, accesories, etc.
There's also quite a few websites on the Internet offering addins and characters for Poser, if you should want to use them. Check the links section for more information.
These are two freeware tools that in my opinion are well worth having on your computer. They can be real timesavers depeding on the type of work you're doing.
Spiralizer is a utility to create spiral shapes, such as springs or seashells. The program will create the wireframe model depending on the parameters your specify, and then you can save the wireframe and import it into Bryce (for example) to add texture.
Elefont does the same thing but with Truetype Fonts. You type in the message, specify the font, size, and type of lettering you want and the program will generate the wireframe you need for your letters.
Adobe Photoshop 6|
Photoshop is a program especially for postprocessing work and image editing. It's similar to JASC's Paint Shop Pro 7, except I find Photoshop is a bit smarter and easier to use once you get the hang of it.
Photoshop lets you take images and combine them in any way you can imagine to generate new works. It also lets you retouch your images, add missing parts, remove existing parts, balance colors and even generate lighting effects such as spotlights.
Worth having too is Alien Skin's Eye Candy 4000, a collection of effects plugins for Photoshop. Eye Candy offers more real life effects than Photoshop's original filters, and makes for a very useful add in to have around.