View Full Version : How I'd like a painting program to work

06-17-2004, 06:41 PM
I voted "the one I really would like doesnt exist yet" in the recently revived "favourite software for digital art" poll. I started explaining why, but my explanation got so long and specialised, it seemed best to start a new thread.

It is NOT because I want some fancy feature that is not available. It is because all programs I've tried get the basic interaction between person, tablet, screen, and keyboard wrong (for me). I should emphasise I am talking about painting, not photo manips, vector, fractals, etc.

Preview brush

The first thing I want is a preview brush, NOT like the 'ghost' preview in Painter 8. I mean a proper, full preview. For example if I have a circular brush with blue colour, 50% opaque, I want the pointer to show a circle which shows the effect of this on the image, so it would be pale blue over white areas, purple over red areas, etc, but without changing the image itself. The same should apply to 'filter' brushes. If I choose a 'sharpen' brush, I want to see the area near the pointer become sharp as I move it around.

I only know one program that works like this: an obscure and discontinued program called ArtGem. If there are others, I'd be interested to hear.

Brush controls

I don't know about the rest of you, but most of the time I'm painting digitally, I am doing the same few things over and over: Picking up colour, making small adjustments to the current brush colour, changing the brush size, etc. - more details below. (Other common actions are zooming, scrolling, undoing and redoing, but most programs do these OK.)

I wish I could make all the common brush adjustments by pressing single keys. For example:

2 keys to increase/decrease hue
2 keys to increase/decrease saturation
2 keys to increase/decrease value (lightness of colour)
2 keys to increase/decrease brush size
2 keys to increase/decrease brush opacity (or strength of effect for a filter brush)
2 keys to increase/decrease brush feathering (=softness of edge of brush stroke)
1 key to turn on or off whether stylus pressure affects brush size
1 key to turn on or off whether stylus pressure affects brush opacity

All the increase/decrease ones should change the property by small steps, and the choice of step size needs to be made carefully.

Note that these controls work together in an essential way with the brush preview. You need to see what you are doing when you press a key to (say) decrease the saturation, and that is what the preview achieves.

The result would be that for nearly all the time while painting, I would need no menus, dialog boxes, tool palettes, sliders and what-not cluttering my screen. I could focus on my image and my brush and hardly have to look at anything else.

If anyone knows of a program that works like this, please let me know. Again, ArtGem is the closest I know of, and if it had been developed just a little more instead of being shelved, I might have answered the poll differently.

06-17-2004, 06:50 PM
Thanks Graham,
..this is getting to be an interesting thread...


06-17-2004, 07:20 PM
This sounds like an interesting program when are you going to write it. LOL I'd love to Beta test it.

06-17-2004, 07:26 PM
That would be an outstanding program!!!...if you ever find one. please let me know!

06-17-2004, 08:24 PM

I highly recommend you writing to Corel with your suggestions. They are very interested in suggestions like this. I took a (loooong) survey about a month or so ago from them re: Painter and aside from all the questions about pricing, they were very interested in suggestions about how to improve the program. :)

06-17-2004, 11:01 PM
Graham , some of those shortcuts are already in PS7, but there is a way to program your keys with this extra keyboard special for photoshop 7 whre you program any combination for doing anything you like
have you heard of that ?

Here is your solution - X-keys keyboard (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2428557&postcount=82)

Hope this is what you're looking for


06-18-2004, 10:41 AM
Thanks for the replies.

Edie: you remembered I'm a programmer! I plan to start work just as soon as I have a spare moment , er month, er year.

Michael: glad you like the idea. It shouldn't be that hard for any of the companies making painting programs to make theirs work like this. In a way it going back to 'old' technology, before GUIs (graphical user interfaces) took over. It may seem paradoxical, but GUIs, wonderful as they are for 99% of what people do on computers, just don't suit painting (IMO).

April: you mean the folk at Corel don't monitor every word written in this forum? :eek: Personally I don't like Painter (and I don't want get into that discussion) but there are other programs that I do like (in most ways). I may well write to some companies - but I wanted some feedback on my ideas first.

Jet: the X-keys thing looks interesting, but... You'd really need a program that showed a full preview brush or you'd be doing: dab, undo, adjust, dab, undo, adjust, .... when you could just be doing adjust, adjust, .... and using the auto-repeat of the keyboard to speed things up further. Does PS7 have a full preview brush? Also, you don't really need more keys than the normal keyboard, so the X-keys is solving the wrong problem (though it's probably a bit easier to use). And I think if you are going to get extra hardware for input, it would be worth getting something that allows continuous control - perhaps something designed for games?? I don't know...

One good thing about X-keys is that is not tied to any particular program. If your problem is that you can do everything you want with key combinations in your favourite program, you can reduce the combinations to one key.