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Thread: Blend menu User-interface: redesign, please?

  1. #1
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    Blend menu User-interface: redesign, please?

    Hiya ArtRage blokes and lasses...

    I'm really in very dire need of an easier-to-navigate and faster-operating blend menu. Seriously.

    I use ArtRage professionally as a visual facilitator, and I simply cannot use the blend menu in the very high-pressured visual facilitation environment.

    There are two separate and distinct issues I have with the blending options.

    1. The user interface requires WAY too many mouseclicks. At the same time, it has no keyboard shortcuts. I want to be able to roll through the options using my arrow keys, or my mouse roller (yes... I use a mouse AND my tablet pc pen, cos I need the speed). Just like Photoshop lets me do.

    2. The speed of execution is simply unusable. ArtRage is WAY too slow. For me to use the blend tool while I'm painting live is not even something I'm prepared to think about in the current incarnation of ArtRage. And I really don't understand why ArtRage's blend engine takes so long, while bloated Photoshop CS3 is instant. How come? It makes ArtRage significantly weaker as a professional art-making tool.

    Is there a possibility of having ArtRage plug seamlessly into Photoshop? That way it could use Photoshop's blend options and engine, while retaining ArtRage's look and feel. Any chance?

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy
    ROY BLUMENTHAL

    Visual Facilitator: http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio

    ArtRage 3.5.5 and 4.0.4 on:
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  2. #2
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    Maybe Iīm missing something here. I donīt recall seeing a blend menu in ArtRage. Yes, I know how to blend, but maybe youīre referring to something different. I donīt use ArtRage professionally, but then itīs not a program touted as professional, is it?

    I get the feeling that you want ArtRage to behave like PhotoShop. I have ArtRage precisely because it doesnīt work like PhotoShop--as in itīs easy to use and itīs not bloatware. Price is not a problem for me, but whatever Adobe products Iīve used (and Iīve used many successfully/professionally in the past) are far from user friendly. I hate how all Adobe products ruin the registry and slow down everything. I do have a very fast machine, but I donīt want anything Adobe on it--except for Acrobat Reader. I used Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, and Authorware when they were Macromedia. When Adobe acquired them, I went elsewhere.

    Maybe you should stick with PhotoShop or seek another program.

    Sorry for the rant!
    Last edited by ScottF; 08-30-2008 at 03:41 AM.
    The only problem with humor is that no one takes it seriously.

  3. #3
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    Scott, I think we all would like to stop using photoshop and paying for the upgrades every year or so. Actually the layer blend modes are pretty much identical to Photoshop already...as far as effects. So why not have them work as smoothly. It would just be nice if they were not so cumbersome to get to. Sometimes it takes a few tries just to get the pull down menu to stay in place long enough to select a blend mode. It wastes a lot of time trying to get there. It is the other blend modes step that is really cumbersome. It would be great if it worked as smoothly as photoshop to change layer blend modes. All the less we would have to open up the photoshop.

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    Hiya Scott and GZAIRBORNE...

    Thanks for your replies!

    Scott... Nah... I don't want ArtRage to be Photoshop. I simply want the blend tools to work fast enough and with enough ease for me to actually be able to use them.

    Even when I'm not doing a visual facilitation session (where every second counts), even when I'm making a painting away from time pressure, I don't use ArtRage's built-in blend tools. I pretty much have to finish my painting in Photoshop. And trust me, I don't wanna do that. I want to do my entire painting in ArtRage.

    And I can also assure you that I'm one of the biggest evangelists for the program. In every painting I make, I mention which tools I used to make the pic. If you head to my Flickr gallery -- at http://flickr.com/royblumenthal -- you'll find hundreds of my pics with references to ArtRage.

    Just a quick note to you on finding the blend modes... When you right click on a layer in the layer palette, you'll see a window that shows you the layer opacity. Below that is a little arrow marked 'more'. Click that, and you get all the Photoshop blend modes.

    Thanks for engaging me in this conversation.

    I'd love to hear from the ArtRage blokes though.

    (Oh... One more thing... The modify layer tool is way too slow as well. And so is the resize canvas tool. These need to be almost instantaneous, if that's at all possible. Please please please?)

    Blue skies, love, Roy
    ROY BLUMENTHAL

    Visual Facilitator: http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio

    ArtRage 3.5.5 and 4.0.4 on:
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the input, I'll make sure to look at this as I'm working on the new revision. The main reason we don't put all the blend modes in the first tier menu for blend is to avoid overloading users who don't really know what they are but want to use the basic artistic type blends we provide. I'm not really considering putting all the blend modes in the first tier, or even in the first menu tier, but I might put in a shortcut for users who understand them and want quick access.

    The work I'm doing at the moment is focusing heavily on rapid access and usability, so this is the ideal time for this sort of discussion!
    Matt
    ArtRage UI
    Ambient Design.

  6. #6
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    I have to chime in with a thumbs up to the idea of improving access to the various blend modes. I have the same frustrations with moving a little too fast to get there and my aim being poor enough for me to have to start over. It would be lovely to have a toggle in the preferences that gives us an expert mode or something. Don't get me wrong, I love the simplicity of ArtRage and the philosophy behind it, but I also want to be able to power through projects without having to run up against constraints put in place that feel like training wheels on a Harley.
    Be well,

    "Teach, Learn, Thrive"~DM


  7. #7
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    Hiya Matt...

    Thanks for the quick response!

    It's not -- for me -- a matter of where in the menu the blend options live. It's actually a usability thing.

    Disregarding the speed issue for now, here's my outline of why the accessibility issue needs addressing...

    When I use blend modes, it's almost ALWAYS an experimental 'see what looks best' kind of process. There are only two specific blend modes that yield 100% predictable results -- MULTIPLY and SCREEN. Every other blend mode, more or less, relies on 'playing around' for an optimum result.

    What this means for my work process is that I want to run through each blend mode VERY fast, on one opacity setting, so that I can choose which one I'm going to go with.

    Currently, in ArtRage, I have to go through the laborious process of going through the entire menu to try the next blend.

    Now add the time taken to render the blend, and you've got a pretty unworkable tool when time is important.

    The reason I mentioned Photoshop is not because I want ArtRage to BE Photoshop. It's that it's an easy benchmark to show what I mean.

    In Photoshop, the blend modes can be scrolled through in two ways (probably more). You choose ONE blend mode. And then, using the arrow keys OR the scroll wheel on your mouse, you simply flip through each blend in the list. This is SO easy.

    In ArtRage it is prohibitively difficult and time-wasting.

    For me, it truly stops me from using the blend tool at all in ArtRage. I do ALL of my blending in Photoshop. And that's a shame. When I write my little shpiel at the end of every drawing, I want to say, 'Painted entirely in ArtRage.' Nowadays, I say, 'Painted in ArtRage 2.5 with adjustments and texturing in Photoshop CS3.'

    ---

    For me, the ability to speedily do what I need to do is of paramount importance.

    For instance, here's a pic I made during an hour-long talk given by Alvin Law, a motivational speaker born with no arms. He plays the piano and drums with his toes.



    The pic started off a standard format. But as the chat went on, I had to increase the canvas size several times. About three times, if I recall correctly. Each canvas resize took about 30 seconds to accomplish. And that's just wayyyyyyyyyy too long. It means my frantically trying to hold all the details in my brain while the software works. Naturally, my brain is fallible. So I miss stuff.

    Not the BIGGEST trainsmash in the world. But frustrating.

    Also, I wanted this pic to have a texture to it. If I had a fast blend tool, there's a good chance I'd simply pop a texture file into a layer, blend it using an overlay, change the opacity, and voila! But with ArtRage, that's not possible in the timeframe I'm working in. EACH action takes about 30 seconds -- importing the file, resizing it, blending it, changing the opacity. That's roughly two minutes of process that in Photoshop is literally instantaneous.

    People might say, 'Well, why don't you do your finishing in Photoshop?'

    And my answer is, 'I DO my finishing in Photoshop. But not during visual facilitations. I just don't have the time.'

    One possible way round this might be to enable macros.

    The way I do my visual facilitations is that I open several instances of ArtRage at once. One instance for each 'topic' I'm covering. So when I finish one topic, I simply alt-tab over to the next open canvas, and start working there.

    If I could simply slap a macro into action on a 'finished' piece, it could run in the background as I moved over to the next picture.

    ---

    I'm going to be doing ArtRage paintings on television across the African continent from 4 October. And I'd REALLLLLLLLLY love to be able to use blends and quick and easy resizes at that point.

    ---

    This entire debate, however, is a no-brainer for me. I don't really actually care whether or not ArtRage 'improves' itself with these enhancements. I use the package. And that's that. I'll use it for visual facilitation pretty much forever, no matter what. The 'limitations' for me are almost irrelevant. My requests are really nice-to-haves, not have-to-haves.

    That said, I want my visual facilitations to look as awesome as I can make them look. And it would truly just be better if I could use ArtRage to make that happen.

    ---

    I'm really chuffed that the people at ArtRage are open to hearing feedback from their users. I'm a self-styled 'power-user' of ArtRage, and I really put it under the most extreme pressure imaginable. And it's never failed me. The WORST that happens is that things take time.

    Thank you for THE killer app!

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy
    Last edited by royblumenthal; 08-31-2008 at 09:08 AM. Reason: Adding link to bigger version of picture
    ROY BLUMENTHAL

    Visual Facilitator: http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio

    ArtRage 3.5.5 and 4.0.4 on:
    Fujitsu T901, Asus R1E

  8. #8
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    Roy,

    Thanks for taking my rant in stride.

    Now that I understand your problem/concern, I see how the blend thing is indeed a problem. Sorry for sticking my [fill in the blank] in it before I was clear on the issue.

    Best of luck with your television project. Too bad we wonīt be able to see it here.
    The only problem with humor is that no one takes it seriously.

  9. #9
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    No hassle whatsoever, ScottF!

    I'm an ArtRage loyalist too. So I know the feeling!

    Regarding seeing me in action, I'll be putting my slots onto YouTube, and letting the ArtRage forum know they're there.

    Pretty exciting.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment first time round, and for your humility second time round.

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy
    ROY BLUMENTHAL

    Visual Facilitator: http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio

    ArtRage 3.5.5 and 4.0.4 on:
    Fujitsu T901, Asus R1E

  10. #10
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    Try turning off the lighting by pressing <F5>, then see if your blendmodes work faster.

    ArtRage is doing way more work than Photoshop when it comes to layer compositing. Photoshop just has to deal with colour on the layer. ArtRage has to deal with colour, bump, shininess and reflectivity, and then add a 3D lighting model on top of that.
    AndyRage's mantra for graphics engine code:
    "Sure - how hard can it be?"

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