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.

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