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Author   Topic : "I'm building a sketching progam... and you can help test it!"
Menno
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Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:53 am     Reply with quote
Hello artists of Sijun,

My name is Menno Nijboer. My current occupation is writing my master's thesis for my computer science degree. As subject matter for the thesis I've managed to combine my interest in CS with my love for drawing: I'm working on some new ways to interact with freehand sketching on a computer. So essentially I'm developing a little sketching system.

My thesis will address several issues: scalable artwork, methods of interacting with lines and techniques for an accessible and intuitive interface.

The reason I'm posting this here is that I need your help. Finding people to evaluate a system is always a problem when it comes to CS research. Often research systems are only tested with less than a handful of people. However, when there is such a large online community of artists, it would be ignorant not to use it!

So I come before you with a humble request: please try out my little application. Poke it, prod it, try to break it even. Hell, try to make some art with it. What I need is feedback: what did you like, what did you hate? What was useful and what was useless? Any comments are appreciated. Also, when exiting by using ESC the program writes a log file of your drawing session. I'm very interesting in these logs and the drawings that go with them. If you want to share those, please do! (Oh, I'm not sure how large the logs will be, but they should compress fairly well)

But take note: this program is a proof of concept, not even close to a production quality application. It will have bugs, and it will likely crash at some point (though it shouldn't kill your system). It will also have a *lot* of rough edges, performance being one (it's not going to be fast). What I'm researching are the concepts, not the fine details. (That doesn't mean you can't point out such shortcomings Wink)

What I can give you in return? Sadly, being a poor student, not that much. What I can offer is that your (real) name appears in the acknowledgment section of the thesis. Also, with your permission of course, some of your artwork might be featured in the thesis! Everyone will of course be given proper acknowledgment of their work.

The binary is a fresh compile from my own system. It should be virus free, but if you're welcome to check (and report it here if you do by some freak-chance find anything). It should run on any XP/Vista system. I'll try to keep this post updated with recent program versions and known issues.



----
SHORT MANUAL


The application is designed around use with a wacom tablet. The functionality of the pen and eraser tips depend on the current draw mode.

## Draw Modes

Draw: Default mode. Drawing with the pen draws lines. The eraser tip erases.
- Click on (and then drag from) the size and smoothness buttons to change brush properties.
- Smoothness determines how much your lines are smoothed out (more loosely approximated)
- Pressure and speed buttons can be clicked to define what is varied (alpha, size or nothing)

Edit: Drawing with the pen tip activates the move brush. This can be used to alter line shapes by pushing them. The eraser tip activates the move stroke. A pencil stroke that has been defined as the move stroke will be used to push

lines in this mode.
- Two parameters (softness and size) can be varied just like the drawing brush parameters (click and drag).

## Other buttons

Clear: Clears canvas
Reset: Resets the canvas view

## Canvas Interaction

Dragging from the blue edge of the canvas to the middle moves the view. Dragging parallel to the edges rotates the canvas. Dragging from the round corners to the center either zooms in or zooms out (each corner is divided into two, one zooms out, the other in).


Clicking the left bended page corner goes to the previous sketch, the right one to the next.

A line can be clicked to select it. A selection has three buttons in the corner: cancel, erase and "set as move brush"
Tapping the canvas produces a red blip. Dragging from the blip creates a multi selection border.

Dragging outwards from a selection edge moves the selection. Dragging parallel/inward rotates it. Dragging from or

to the center from the corners scales and dragging perpendicular to this from the corners also rotates the selection.

Tapping the canvas and tapping the blip that appears moves the menu. The menu position resets once you've performed an action on it.

Tapping with the eraser, and dragging from the blip with the eraser draws a line. All pencil strokes that cross this line will be erased.

## Additional

While flipping from sketch to sketch saves changes automatically, ending the program does not. Use Shift+S to save

and Shift+L to load the sketch.

Use ESC to exit the program. This will also save a log file that contains a report of which commands you used during the drawing session, and at what time.

Be sure to use *thick* strokes as move strokes. This has to do with the collision detection between the shape and the lines.

----
KNOWN ISSUES

- Lines can be moved out of the canvas with the move brush, after which part of the stroke cannot be interacted with anymore


----
DOWNLOADS:

Version 0.1: Click to download. (Around 7 megs): http://www.brainbeam.net/thesis/menno_sketch_0.1.zip
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zHowie
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Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 135

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:20 am     Reply with quote
Hello there.

I havn't had this long obviously but something that immediately strikes me is that its quite easy to get unwanted things happening, like the selection box. Just from double-clicking some interaction will be made, this would be quite frustrating when you're doing quick sketching where your stylus is going to make strokes in quick succession, perhaps involving some shortcuts for that sort of thing would be better.

another thing is that sometimes i move the tool bar (double click) which i can deal with because i just move it back but on its return journey it leaves a rectangle from the co-ordinate it was moved to, to the location it was moved back to, i'm pretty sure this wasnt a selection box either.

Sometimes i get unwanted diagonal lines coming from the bottom right, usually they just sort of 'flash' but they do stick sometimes.

I liked the edit tool, that was fun. Also the ability to change the abruptness of the line was useful, like i could shade or do more curvacious lines.

seeing that i've only had this a short while limits me to giving you much real insight and some of the problems i have mentioned are likely to be my own faults because of the lack of familiarity with the program!
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sometimes
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Joined: 04 Dec 2008
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:23 am     Reply with quote
I tried it and it crashed, deleted it directly. Sorry.

It was to slow for me, things have to flow in order to be able to draw. you cannot sit around and wait for strokes.
thanks for the post though. Always like to try out new software.
Think I have tried out all of the freeware art programs, staying with Gimp as it is now.
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B0b
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Joined: 14 Jul 2002
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Location: Sunny Dorset, England

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:09 am     Reply with quote
incredibly slow..
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Ranath
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Joined: 02 Apr 2004
Posts: 595
Location: Helsinki, Finland

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:30 am     Reply with quote
wasn't slow for me, but couldn't get it to read pressure sensitivity.. oh, and eraser would be nice, I didn't see it anywhere? Edit was kinda interesting to play with.
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Petri.J
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Joined: 04 Dec 2003
Posts: 437
Location: Helsinki, Finland

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:39 am     Reply with quote
You might want to look at ArtRage for intuitive UI.
http://www.ambientdesign.com/

Nice POC.
When drawing something, you always want as large area to draw as possible and as small menus as possible. So I would suggest you to make those borders smaller, or get rid of them completely if possible.

Nice work, and good luck with the thesis.
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Menno
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Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:56 am     Reply with quote
zHowie: yes, those would be the rough edges I talked about Wink My proff. wants it to be a wacom only tool, so using a keyboard is out of the question. That's why I had to get creative with some of the interactions. Still, there is definitely room for improvement. Great that you liked the edit tool. Been getting a lot of positive feedback from that thankfully!

sometimes: sorry to hear that. On the machines I've tested it with the response time is pretty much instant.

B0b: Given that it's an unoptimized proof of concept, a fairly good computer/video card combi is needed to run the program.

Ranath: Strange, I'm using QT to get pressure data, and sofar it's worked for both my intuos 1 and graphire 4. What kind of tablet are you using?

Petri.J: thanks, I'm familiar with ArtRage. However, one of the thesis goals is to try out new things. Yeah, the menu is kind of big. Mostly this is because there are plans to run the program on a Large Display with touch interaction.

Regarding the borders, they are context sensitive. Dragging the cursor along the border rotates the canvas. Dragging towards the center moves the canvas. They were left big intentionally so they are easier to interact with.[/b]
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B0b
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Joined: 14 Jul 2002
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Location: Sunny Dorset, England

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:11 pm     Reply with quote
Menno wrote:
B0b: Given that it's an unoptimized proof of concept, a fairly good computer/video card combi is needed to run the program.

well i have a 3.4GHz Dual Core2, 8GB RAM, with a GeForce 7600GT in it..
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Ranath
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Joined: 02 Apr 2004
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:23 am     Reply with quote
Menno wrote:


Ranath: Strange, I'm using QT to get pressure data, and sofar it's worked for both my intuos 1 and graphire 4. What kind of tablet are you using?



Wacom Intuos3
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Menno
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Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:48 am     Reply with quote
B0b: Hm... that is strange. It runs quite well even on my 1.6Ghz laptop with a crappy ATI card. Haven't had any speed problems on other computers either. Guess it's back to profiling the code.

Ranath: Might be a driver related problem. I'll have to look into that.
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B0b
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Location: Sunny Dorset, England

PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:45 am     Reply with quote
im running Vista 64 if that helps?
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