Monday 20 November 2017

Progress on the Wrinkle-Free Engine

I've had another busy month working on Omber. I know some users have wanted better tutorials showing how to get the most of out Omber, so I sponsored the creation of a new tutorial at Envato Tuts+, which should come out in the next couple of weeks. The tutorial writer pointed out some improvements that would make Omber easier to use, so I went and implemented those. I actually had all of those issues plus many more on my To Do list already, but I have workarounds for those problems when I use the software myself, so I never prioritized fixing them. It's good to have feedback from real users about what sort of improvements they need for their workflows because as the designer of the software, it's easy for me to be blinded about what's difficult to use for normal people.

The main things I've been working on though, is the new Wrinkle-Free gradient engine for Omber. This is the engine that does the actual shading and blending of colors across a shape. There's still a lot of work to go, but I now have an early version of the engine running. The new Wrinkle-Free engine uses a new mathematical model of how to blend colors that takes into account the psychology of how users perceive "smoothness."  It's endlessly complicated, but the new Wrinkle-Free engine should be able to make gradients that seem much smoother and easier to control than before.

The picture above is from Omber's Wrinkle-Free engine, and it shows the benefits that the Wrinkle-Free engine is able to bring. On the left, are the shapes that are being drawn. It is a circle that is split in half. The outside edge of the circle is a light grey, while the middle point of the circle is black. The middle picture shows how the current version of Omber will shade the shape. Although the shading is smooth, you can still sort of see the line where the circle is divided in half. On the right is the shading done by the new Wrinkle-Free engine. The Wrinkle-Free engine smudges the black color in the middle much further out from the center of the circle, making a smoother-looking gradient.

The old engine was already very complicated, but the new Wrinkle-Free engine is even more complex, so it might still be a while before it stabilizes enough that I'll be able to release it. The early results are so good that I'm really looking forward to getting it out there for you.