Learning to be Creative

By Malik Baker-Gore 18

Scratch is a program where you make animations and share them. If you’re new to animations, it’s a good place to start because it’s simple. Anyone can see and comment on something that you share publicly. That means you can see other people’s projects, too. Even if you don’t plan to be an animator, Scratch is a fun program to use, and it sparks your imagination.

            Scratch give you a clean feeling. The pages are mostly white, and the things that are colored are bright and stand out. It makes the things that are there seem more significant. In a way, it makes you feel like you have to add to the community and that you’re important. Your profile can be as “beefy” as you want it to be. The more projects you make, the more fleshed out it will seem. When someone has been making projects for a long time, their profile certainly radiates a feeling of depth.

            The animations you make are based on sprites. Sprites are pictures. Each sprite can have its own script. A script is a series of commands, for example, “When cat touches wall, stop.” These commands make up the “animation.” They allow you to make things move, change color, make sounds, and many more. There are pre-made sprites, but you can also make your own. There isn’t a big variety of tools to draw with, other than “Paint,” but it inspires you to be creative. When you put all these components together, you can make slide shows, cartoons, even games if you’re ready for the work.

            This leads us to the purpose of Scratch. It isn’t about making super-realistic graphics. It’s about learning the basics of programming and being creative. You get what you put into it. If you just use a bunch of pre-made sprites and don’t spend time on the project, it won’t be that unique or impressive. If you spend time and effort on it, it will be worth your while. You learn from your mistakes and successes.

            One of the best parts about Scratch is the community. When you share a project, people can watch or use it and give you feedback. The critique of others really helps you along the way. You hear what things they liked, what things that need more work, and tips to make it even better. You can also see the work of others which gives you ideas to work with. I started a forum on tools that should be added, and someone responded within the next day or two. It’s a fairly active community and you’ll always find someone with similar interests.

            Although nothing really happens when you make a lot of projects or post a lot on the forums, I believe there is a reward system. When someone comments, favorites, or loves one of your projects, a little orange circle appears next to your mailbox with the number of activities that have happened pertaining to you. It’s satisfying to know that my work is being seen by other people and maybe even enjoyed. It fills me with confidence to hear the support of others. Watching my library of projects grow and grow makes me feel accomplished and proud of my work. The only real “promotion” is the change from “New Scratcher” to “Scratcher.” You achieve this by being active, and it takes the limitations off your forum posts.

            In essence, Scratch is a program and website designed to teach you the basics of programming and give you confidence in being creative. Although it may seem complicated at first, it’s not. Trust me. Even if you aren’t that into “computer stuff,” you might enjoy Scratch if you give it a chance.