Monthly Archives: January 2017

Amazing VR drawing work from Tilt Brush Artists in Residence

I see stuff like this & think, “It’s pretty clear I’m wasting my life.” How am I not working directly to help artists create next-gen radness? Check out what a diverse set of creators, from graffiti artists to New Yorker stalwart Roz Chast, can do in 3D space:

Google has been working closely with more than 60 artists to help them explore their style in virtual reality as part of the Tilt Brush Artist in Residence program (AiR). Coming from a wide range of disciplines, these graffiti artists, painters, illustrators, graphic designers, dancers, concept artists, creative technologists and cartoonists have all brought their passion and talent to create some amazing art with Tilt Brush.





Chromebooks get Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop Mix, and more

I love it when my peeps work together. 🙂 Engadget writes,

Expect Adobe’s Photoshop Mix, Lightroom mobile, Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Sketch, Comp CC and Creative Cloud Mobile to be available later this month… If you’re using an ASUS Flip, Acer R11/C738T or Google Pixel (2015), that collection of software will be available for you to use today. All you have to to do is head over to the Play Store to nab it.


New drawing tools: Astropad & Remarkable

reMarkable is an e-ink tablet that promises serious sketching chops:

The Marker is a super precise tool – down to the smallest details. It puts digital ink on the reMarkable with incredibly low lag. It’s designed to let you focus on the task at hand. No battery charging or Bluetooth set-up. The tip is carefully designed with just the right friction to deliver a paper-like experience.


Meanwhile Astropad, which lets you use an iPad & Apple Pencil to draw in Mac apps, has been around for a couple of years, but the new Astropad Studio ups its game:

TechCrunch writes,

Astropad Studio connects to a client on your Mac (which you download separately) and lets you select a portion of your existing display or displays to define as the interaction surface for use on your iPad Pro. A small disc icon on the iPad screen allows you to tweak the shortcut settings and check for additional commands. The commands available are terrific…

Astropad Studio requires a $7.99 monthly or $64.99 yearly subscription, but with math you get settings sync, additional support and a promise from Astropad that it’ll be updated monthly with new features and improvements.


[YouTube 1 and 2]

Adobe’s new 3D tool is ready for download

Somehow I missed this news back in December, but if you’re a Creative Cloud member, you can download Adobe’s new 2D/3D compositing tool, Project Felix.

If your specs measure up…

On Windows 10, you’ll need at least 8 GB of RAM and a Geforce GTX 770 or better graphics card. On macOS, the minimum is also 8 GB of RAM and either an Intel Iris Graphics 540 or GeForce GT 750M card, though here, too, Adobe recommends 16 GB of RAM or more.

…maybe you, too, can make a weird Velvet Underground homage (?).


I’m really eager to see what my Adobe friends can devise, but boy is this a tough nut to crack (or giant banana to peel, if you prefer). I think there’s real hotness to be had by rethinking creation & compositing in a 3D context, but making people wrestle with & care about traditional 3D concepts isn’t what I have in mind. We’ll see.


Photo zoom returns to Google+

I’m pleased to say that by very popular demand, you can now really enjoy the details of high-resolution images shared on Google+ by zooming in via your Web browser. This feature—previously available only via the classic Web experience—is now part of the new G+.

With large images (e.g. try these) you can start zooming in by:

  • Clicking the zoom button
  • Tapping the ‘Z’ key
  • Using your mouse wheel (or two-finger drag)
  • Double clicking on the photo
  • Pinching on the photo (via touchscreen/touchpad)

Once the image is zoomed in, you can:

  • Use ‘+’ key and ‘-‘ keys (plus without shift) to zoom in/out incrementally
  • Use arrow keys to pan around the zoomed image

Enjoy—and “Enhance!”

UX: BMW shows off their HoloActive Touch

Help me, Bavarian Motor Works, you’re my only hope…

TechCrunch writes,

HoloActive Touch appears to float in air, and also provides actual felt, tactile feedback in response to interactions.

As for the tech used to make the interface feel somewhat physical, even though you’re just poking around in mid-air, we’ve heard it might be sourced from Ultrahaptics, a company whose whole mission is to make it possible to feel things including “invisible buttons and dials” when you want them to be tangible, and then not when you don’t.



Voice-driven photo editing: Here we go again

Four years ago Adobe showed off a prototype of voice-driven photo editing:

Now they’re back, showing a slicker but shallower (?) version of the same idea:

Well, we’ll see. Hopefully there’s a lot more to the Adobe tech. Meanwhile, I’m reminded of various VR photo-related demos. After donning a mask & shuffling around a room waving wands in the air like a goof, you realize, “Oh… so I just did the equivalent of zooming in & showing the caption?!”

Who f’ing cares?

You know what would be actually worth a damn? Let me say, “Okay, take all my shots where Henry is making the ‘Henry Face,’ then make an animated face collage made up of those faces—and while you’re at it, P-shop him into a bunch of funny scenes.” Don’t give me a novel but cumbersome rehash, gimme some GD superpowers already.

But hey, they’re making a new Blade Runner, so maybe now Ryan Gosling will edit his pics by voice, and they’ll bring back talking cameras, and in the words of Stephen Colbert, “It’s funny because nothing matters.



Introducing Toontastic 3D!

I’m thrilled to announce that my friends Andy, Thushan, Mike, and their merry band of Google toymakers have totally reinvented their storytelling app for kids, Toontastic 3D! Now available for both iOS and (for the first time) Android, the award-winning Toontastic—which my kids & I first dug back in 2011 (!)—has leaped into the third dimension. Check it out!

Thushan writes,

With Toontastic 3D, kids can draw, animate and narrate their own adventures, news stories, school reports, and anything else they might dream up. All they need to do is move characters around on the screen and tell their story. It’s like a digital puppet theater… but with enormous interactive 3D worlds, dozens of customizable characters, 3D drawing tools, and an idea lab with sample stories to inspire new creations.

I hope you love it, and we can’t wait to see what you make!



The Dell Canvas looks beautiful

Changes aren’t permanent, but change is…

Back when Mac users were departing the platform in droves, Adobe did Apple a favor, making it hard to find info about how to transfer your Mac serial number to Windows. Then Apple sprang back to life, customers started asking to make the opposite transition easy, and we obliged. Now the pendulum seems to be swinging back, with Mac pros cheekily bemoaning their neglect and companies like Microsoft & Dell (yes, really) making what appears to be kickass creative hardware:

PetaPixel writes,

Like the Surface Studio, the Dell Canvas works with a pen and dial (in this case, Dell’s ‘totems’); like the Cintiq 27QUD, it’s meant to be used as a peripheral, a 27-inch QHD touchscreen ‘workspace’ that connects to your existing Windows 10 computer and makes it a whole lot more creatively useful when using programs like Photoshop or Autodesk.

It should cost $1800 & be available to order at the end of March.



Animation: Making champagne supernovae in the tub

CGI is for wimps! Who needs fancy particle systems when you’ve got ink, water, and After Effects?

By only using an aquarium, ink and water, this film is also an attempt to represent the giant with the small without any computed generated imagery. As a tribute to Kubrick or Nolan’s filmography, Novae is a cosmic poem that want to introduce the viewer to the nebulae’s infinite beauty.

Of course, I find the making-of to be the really interesting part:

And here’s a second peek:

By the way, if these visuals are up your alley, check out this entry on The Daily Overview, “a massive bloom of cyanobacteria—more than 100 square kilometers—in the Baltic Sea.”


Big Dater: Hilariously hacking OKCupid’s match algorithm

Monastic brainiac Chris McKinlay put his Ph.D & supercomputer access to work figuring out how to make himself the single most attractive man for thousands of women on OKCupid, as he recounts in this great 15-minute piece for The Moth. I got a kick out of hearing about so many tools of our trade (optimization, retention analysis, etc.) applied to such squishy human problems. I think you’d dig it. [Via Maria Brenny]


Augmented reality sketching?

Hmm—is this a useful aid to novice artists, the Centrifugal Bumblepuppy version of paint-by-numbers, or both? It’d be fun to try it & find out.

SketchAR is an application through which the user sees a virtual image on the surface of which is planning to transfer a sketch. In one hand, the user holds a phone and a screen sees a virtual image, while the other hand encircles virtual sketch lines already on paper.