Tom Chi  

ArtRage is like, whoa.

March 31st, 2004 by Tom Chi :: see related comic

I meant to post much earlier in the week, but my spare time has been consumed with this excellent application: ArtRage. It’s a painting program which was created by some of the crew that worked on KPT5/6/7. Check out some quick paintings from the last couple days here:

redmoons.jpg lilduck.jpg window.jpg

Working with it in has been just incredible. What amazes me most is the effort they’ve put into oil paint dynamics. By carefully modeling this medium, they’ve captured a great amount of complexity, but exposed it in a simple interface.For example, when you put down a stroke of paint, it leaves paint on the canvas which will mix with the next stroke you put down. Your brush also picks up the first color when this happens. Also if one brushes the paint back and forth several times, it changes from a painterly ridged stroke to a flat matte color. Not only is the visual quality changed, but paint flattened in this way does not readily mix with subsequent strokes. When described in words, it all sounds quite complicated, but using the tool it feels amazingly natural because this is how paint behaves in the real world.

ArtRage is also very smart about picking what to model realistically and what to simplify. While the painting experience is realistically modeled, the color mixing experience is thankfully easier, cleaner and less smelly than real life. The ArtRage color picker provides a near infinite palette, and allows control over hue, value and saturation that is amazingly helpful while painting (underpainting too light?..take the value slider down a smidge.). Other features like using right click to toggle hide/show on UI widgets demonstrate a clear understanding of their target audience’s goals. …the only thing I would add to the current interface would be buttons to change brush size by +/-10% (right now only +/-1% buttons exist, so it takes a while to switch sizes).

Overall this is an amazing application. It’s incredibly small (1.36MB), and free to boot. These people certainly deserve some serious PayPal donations though.

5 Responses to “ArtRage is like, whoa.”
Shawn wrote:

“…the only thing I would add to the current interface would be buttons to change brush size by +/-10% (right now only +/-1% buttons exist, so it takes a while to switch sizes).”

I thought that was pretty weird, too, since it’s an uncharacteristically clunky part of the interface. It turns out that you can click and drag on the brush stroke itself and quickly change to any percentage. The +/-1% buttons are just for precision.

Tom Chi wrote:

Wow. That’s awesome. Now I have no more complaints… actually maybe a feature request: wet brush technique.

AndyB wrote:

There are still a few things on the ‘to do’ list for more painting effects we can simulate.
Thanks for the really nice comments - that’s the currency we get paid in!
Andy Bearsley (one of the guys who wrote ArtRage)
Ambient Design Ltd.

Johann Smoot wrote:

You might also want to check out the “original” natural painting program, Project Dogwaffle.

shs wrote:

amazing tool. i’m impressed for it’s power and simplicity, keeping in mind, that it’s freeware…but i really miss keyboard shortcuts for ZOOM IN/ZOOM OUT and brush size (: that’s all, what is wrong here for me!

ofcourse i can add and fact, that it’s layerless and that does uncomfortable it when you want to paint locally, on the drawing, your palette, but for all such things are much more serious programs like photoshop, painter and etc, so i give 10 of 10 for this progie!


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?