Hello folks. I have this idea to create a specialized painting
program, something that would allow you to paint (with a tablet),
while getting as little as possible in the way of the actual painting.
Currently I am investigating different possibilities and approaches,
and I would really appreciate some input here. If you would be so kind
to bear with me, I'll provide some background. Please forgive the
I am a student at a game developers school in Sweden, and one of the
things we do for fun is to "compete" in speed painting with weekly
themes - lots of people draw a lot more than that, but I'm no gfx
artist, just in it for the fun. Anyway, some people use Photoshop,
some use more specialized programs like OpenCanvas in different
versions and so on.
General feeling is that there is some fundamental flaw with most of
these programs when it comes to doing paintings. Photoshop, for
instance can do anything you need, but the interface is really
backwards for the job. OC on the other hand, may lack functionality or
just have some stuff that should be changed. When discussing stuff
like that back and forth, we came up with a few ideas on how a drawing
program should behave, and I started thinking that it might be
possible to actually write one - and open source would be even better,
anyone could at least theoretically get the app they wanted.
Before anything else, I started looking around for GUI toolkits and
the like that could be used for this - the musts that such a toolkit
should have were:
* Tablet support - the program would be really tablet centered, so we
want to leverage what a tablet can do. This includes tilt, using the
eraser and so on.
* Windows support - most people I know use it and won't switch no
matter what, however I would like Linux support since that is what I
use at home. If other platforms like Mac are easy to add, so much
* Enough basic image manipulation and viewing for it to be not too
hard to implement different brushes that are more than just adding
pixels to a bitmap. This should be for artists, not a MS Paint clone.
* Open source - is not an actual must, but a strong preference, and
probably the only viable way anyways.
Looking around some, what I found that seemed to fit all these things
(although I haven't actually tried tablet support, not on any
platform) would be GTK+. I read up a bit on the docs, and it seemed
that such a thing could be done in it, but would require quite some
effort (might be mistaken). I went further and had a look at GIMP,
which I use now and then, but I rarely do image manipulation, so I'm
not that familiar with it.
Anyhow, playing around with GIMP the application, most or all things
that is needed (and much, much more) already is there, but the
interface is not at all suited for this job. Don't get me wrong, for
image processing it probably is very fitting, but for drawing, you
ideally want to have the tablet under one hand and the other hand on
the keyboard, with everything common possible to do without moving
either. This is actually one of the goals I have, once the basic
colors are on the canvas, you should not need any other window, not
even the color selector, and all commands accessible under the left
(or right) half of the keyboard together with the tablet. See later
for examples. Anyhow, the GIMP as it is is not suitable for this task,
you don't want to right-click-context everything, you just want to
I also downloaded the source, read through most of the devel-docs and
looked around a little - but I find the project is really big and hard
to grasp. Add to that that I'm not all that good at C, although I can
usually modify other peoples code. ;-) I prefer to code in scripting
languages, but I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty if that is the
best approach and I can get some help.
Anyhow, now we are closing in on my actual questions; it is pretty
hard to formulate them, because first and foremost I actually need
advice on the best approach for something like this, if it is viable
at all. I can think of several ways to go:
* Writing an application from scratch, using GTK+ and GIMP
widgets/functions/etc. Question here is if that is possible, at least
easily enough. Can the GIMP libraries be used like that?
* Modifying the GIMPs interface somehow:
- By actually forking, tearing apart and rearranging - not a tempting
idea for many reasons
- By creating a parallell main and building it up that way, using
only the parts needed
- By modifying the UI somehow, via plugins or the like - is that
possible? The absolute ideal on many levels would actually be a plugin
that allowed you to switch interface while retaining the whole GIMP.
This I like the most, because it doesn't hurt to have all the extra
functions for image manip, they should just get out of the way while
doing the painting. Especially if it could be accomplished via some
kind of scripting, so there would be no need for compiling on several
platforms. I've googled and looked around for lots of these resources,
but not found anything about controling the UI, other than some hints.
Is this a possible way?
Well, I've tons more questions really, but they are very dependant on
what approach I should take. Ideally, I'd be able to do this mainly as
a plugin which alters the interface, and via script. ;-) Some widgets
might need modifying too, like the color selector - if that is
important, would that affect the approach? I'd love to hear what you
think is the best way to go about this, and any pointers on how and
where to get started of course... or, if the answer is simply "don't",
then don't hesitate to say so either. =)
To clarify a little bit more what I had in mind, I've also sketched
out a first draft of a feature list/description, maybe that will help
clarifying what I mean. The basis is in OC 1.1, the program I use, and
which I think has the right idea, just not all the way. Yet other
stuff is things people have said to me as a wish. ;-)
"Unnamed Drawing Program"
* should focus totally on simplicity, almost everything common and
non-trivial should be possible via shortcuts mapped to tablet + what
is under the left hand on the keyboard shortcuts. Example shortcuts
could be stuff like:
- SHIFT - pick color under cursor
- CTRL+Drag - change brush size
- CTR+ALT+Drag - rotate image
- E/R - wander around in last useed brushes/brushsizes
- Q/W - zoom in /out
- SPACE + Drag - drag the image in the viewport
- Double-click - fill area under cursor with current color and so on
(examples only, some maybe silly).
* It should be possible to wander around in the choosen color in steps
of say 10 or something like that via easily accessible keys too.
Another wish is a bigger color selector for more fine grained
* Several images should be able ot be open, and you should be able to
load external images. Layers would be very nice. =)
* Stuff like multiply is needed for good drawing.
* Typical windows apart from image windows are:
- color selector, preferably with big color "pixels"
- preview window, the navigation one in gimp is good
- some kind of brush editor, size, opacity, radius etc is probably
important, as is type of brush and stuff like that. will have to be
worked out exactly what.
- if other gimp windows are available that is no minus, of course.
But not by default.
* Extremely cool features that OC has would be network drawing
collaborately and the recording of event files. But that is more wish
* Must work under Windows, Linux + other is high on wishlist.
* Must have tablet support.
There is more that is in my head, and if this takes off, or someone
simply is interested, I'll be happy to elaborate. Don't hesitate to
ask for clarifications where needed. But for now, I hope this makes
*any* sense at all, at least enough to tell me whether it is feasible
and of so, if using GIMP one way or the other is the best approach.
Thanks for your time. =)
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