877. An underrated tool for creative expression is MSPaint. Seriously.
Remember (well, okay, not all of you, back when Macs were new and people were trying to press both Intels and Macs into service to create art? Certanly all of us remember the friendly "hello." we were all introduced to.
MacPaint (and its PC analogue, MSPaint) were (and are) bitmap editors. Hardly advanced and far from sophisticated, but with applied manipulation and diligence, you could come up with some rather surprising images. The number of surprisingly apt digital sketches were quite impressive.
Now, with programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, Corel DRAW!, &c, &c, artworks of stunning complexity and amazing effects can be performed. One might think that people are no longer trying much interesting in elementary bitmap editors. One would be wrong.
For instance, via YouTube (what isn't these days), here's nine minutes of drawing a Lamborghini in MSPaint, with a guitar-driven soundtrack:
And here's a fellow drawing a rather realistic-looking iPod (similar to the one I own):
And, just to push the envelope, here's someone doing the Mona Lisa:
The neat thing about MSPaint is it's a gimme that goeth with the Windows system. Macintosh, at least my version, actually had some nice bundled goodies but MacPaint has gone the way of something that is now extinct (though I think you can find an OS X port somewhere, I had one once, but it ran badly). For OS X users there is this nifty freeware program called Paintbrush, which has the same level of functionality.
This and a graphics tablet, and you can do some wicked cool things.
Update: There's also another free bitpusher, Seashore, for MacOS X. Free, has layers and some advanced effect features–it's like MSPaint or MacPaint to the next level. Based on the GIMP, but reduced to just the basics, Ma'am. Downside; does not save as BMP. Upsides:Saves as JPG, JPG2000, GIF, TIFF, and XGF (GIMP's native format)
Tags: design, tech, drawing programs, MSPaint, computer art