February 26, 2008

Fun with physics-based drawing

The great thing about computer-based drawing and painting tools is that they do exactly what you expect, over and over [reliability => productivity.]. That’s also what kind of sucks about them, though: happy accidents can be hard to come by.

Taking a different spin on things, UmeĆ„ University’s Phun is “an educational, entertaining and somewhat addictive piece of software for designing and exploring 2D multi-physics simulations in a cartoony fashion.”  Although it’s not a drawing tool per se, Phun mixes literalness with a measure of unpredictability.  Check out this video of it in action. [Via Jerry Harris & Jim Geduldick]

If that’s up your alley, take a look at Nelson Chu’s amazing MoXi watercolor simulation (details).  Computer power (GPU power in particular) is starting to enable sophisticated simulations on every desktop.  Look at the way an app like Little Big Planet leverages a great physics engine and redefines the process of computer-based creation (in this case using a PlayStation, but so what?).

It seems like every other day I read about some app or other using the Flash platform to partially emulate old versions of Photoshop.  That’s all fine, but I’m much more excited about harnessing the platform to build much richer, more immersive, and (optionally) less predictable creation experiences.  We can have the best of both worlds, and that’s what keeps me amped & in the game.

Posted by John Nack at 10:27 PM on February 26, 2008

Comments

  • Avi Muchnick — 12:10 AM on February 27, 2008

    Hi John, please email me at avi(-a-) worth1000.com and I’ll share some of the other tools with you that also tie into the image editing experience. I guarantee you’ll find their use quite novel…. especially our pattern generator, that can be used as a customizable filter creator.
    [Sounds good, Avi, and thanks for the offer. Sorry if I was painting with an excessively large brush. I'm just a little tired of people forwarding me links every day saying, "Oh my God, some other app in this world can adjust pixels; Photoshop must be toast!" It's as if these people have never heard of Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Express, iPhoto, Picasa, Lightroom, GIMP, etc. Show them one curves dialog or layer palette and the sky is falling. In reality, of course, people will use different tools for different tasks. --J.]
    As an aside, we don’t view online editing tools as the truly novel element here… I mean, what is the point if you aren’t creating something new? Desktop software is more powerful than Flash. What we view as novel is the new ability to work and collaborate with others, sharing revisions, opening up other people’s original layer files and making further changes… etc.
    [That is indeed cool, and I look forward to seeing how you guys push the limits there. I disagree with the notion (not yours) that creation tools must be Web-hosted in order to facilitate collaboration. I've been sketching out ways to Net-enable the desktop editing experience. Whether an app lives in a Web browser or on the desktop should be just an implementation detail, not something that governs whether the app is community-savvy. --J.]
    With Phoenix specifically, we weren’t going to deviate from the layer-based interface that Photoshop users love because our userbase at Worth1000 knows Photoshop and we’re not going to try to force a new learning experience. That being said, Phoenix is a very small part of our story and I’d be thrilled if you’d take a look at the rest to judge our innovation from that standpoint. :)
    [Cool--looking forward to it. And again, I'm not taking issue with you guys; rather, it's with truly uninformed commentators (including at least one from well known publications) who really ought to know better than to lump every pixel-adjusting tool into the same bucket. To do otherwise is unhelpful to all users and apps concerned. --J.]

  • David — 4:41 AM on February 27, 2008

    Phun reminds me of the upcoming game Crayon Physics Deluxe. If you haven’t seen it, watch the video on that page. Looks like fun.
    [Neat! --J.]

  • Art Swalwell — 4:24 AM on February 29, 2008

    “they do exactly what you expect, over and over [reliability => productivity.]”
    Oh? Have you tried doing a smooth color blend between two amorphous shapes in Illustrator lately? I love the program but it would be nice if my blends didn’t rotate.
    Art

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