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Thread: An ArtRage Mobile Review/Inquiry for the developers

  1. #1
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    An ArtRage Mobile Review/Inquiry for the developers

    Greetings, ArtRage team.

    I've always loved ArtRace for PC. It's lightweight, affordable, extremely capable, wonderfully fun to use, and the user community that comes with it is as helpful and talented as any. When I got a Galaxy Note Pro tablet a couple of years ago, my very first app purchase was ArtRage mobile, back when it was exclusively available on the Galaxy App store. Unfortunately, my first impressions of the app lead me to give up on using it shortly after. It was slow/laggy (and I'm not talking about "stroke gap"), imprecise with faster strokes (the brush does not follow the cursor's/pen's/finger's path, but instead approximates to it, and not very closely), and damn near half the features that made me a fan of the PC version were not implemented in the mobile version. At least, not the Android version, as far as I knew. "This is a new launch" I thought. "The app will get faster and more responsive in a few revisions." I had in fact bought one of the top devices at the time, so "Certainly, it can't be my hardware." With apps like Sketchbook Pro and ArtFlow available on the Play Store there was just no point to keep messing with the app, as it was. So I waited... waiting for revisions, until I lost interest.

    Yesterday, by chance, when checking again to see if AR for Android had made any significant progress, I came to realize that script export had been implemented. I quickly ran a test, and voila! Voi effin la!! Finally, I can merge the wonderful experience of PC AR with the lackluster, though often convenient benefits of AR mobile.

    Still, AR Mobile, as it is, is not a drawing app. With pencil and ink pen tools as unresponsive and laggy as they are in the current version (remember, I'm using a 12" tablet with a stylus), it would take Buddha like patience to get any serious sketching done. AR Mobile is, in fact, a painter's app and no more. I can live with that... I guess. Other than the three dimensional realism of paint blobs and oil brush strokes, the realism of the watercolor engine, and script export, Art rage offers very little to nothing that ArtFlow, Sketchbook Pro, LayerPaint, SeriousPaint, Artecture, Clover Paint, Infinite Painter, and so on don't. PaintRage may have been a more apt title.
    I'll continue to experiment with AR Mobile. Maybe some day I'll get to a point of familiarity where all the problems I currently perceive will simply dissolve. If not, I'll still have AR PC to create my art with.



    A few questions for the team:

    1) Some time ago, a user on this forum inquired about the real color blending feature for the mobile app. The answer given by a Rage team member was essentially that the feature used up a lot of processing power, and so, was not implemented. That post was back in 2011. Has the processing power of our mobile devices gotten to where that feature can now be implemented? It's a drag not being able to naturally blend colors in a "natural media" app. I've tried to mix yellow and cyan and ended up getting white at some point. The unavailability of this feature leaves the mobile painting experience wanting.

    2)
    I've noticed that there are a few intuitive touch shortcuts/gestures that are available for the iOS version that aren't available in the Android counterpart. For example, the "Tap and drag out from the closed Color Picker to get this pop up and quickly choose a new color" tip from https://www.artrage.com/manuals/artr...e-ipad/colors/ doesn't seem to work on Android. Why not?

    2b) The quick add color icon that is below the color picker on the iOS version doesn't exist on Android. Why not? The less interface taps, the better.

    3) There is no support for stylus buttons on Android. Why not?

    4) Three fingers up/down changes brush size and presents a floating brush size indicator, while three fingers left/right does nothing. It would be cool if this gesture could call up a preset indicator that shows scrolling presets for the current tool. Can this be implemented?

    Thanks, again!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThwWayofNoWay View Post

    Still, AR Mobile, as it is, is not a drawing app. With pencil and ink pen tools as unresponsive and laggy as they are in the current version (remember, I'm using a 12" tablet with a stylus), it would take Buddha like patience to get any serious sketching done.
    Okay, that's not normal. Those two should be by far the fastest tools (assuming you have tried with Smoothing and Taper turned off? As that adds some post-stroke correction that can slow things down a little). We have seen on some devices that *sometimes* something is causing severe lag, which goes away when we reset the device. But it's hard to tell whether people are seeing this unusual lag or are just pushing their device too hard/have a battery saving app throttling ArtRage/no memory left/ quite used to the way ArtRage works. In your case, it does sound like something else is going on.

    A quick way to check:

    Close all other apps to make sure you have enough memory. If you have any battery saving apps, make sure they are not limiting ArtRage’s performance.

    Start with a completely new canvas and pick the Oil brush (the square paint brush).

    • When you make a stroke and take the cursor away, does the ‘undo’ arrow update (become highlighted) instantly? Or does it take a second or two?
    • If you make two or more strokes very quickly, does the lag suddenly get a lot worse?






    Quote Originally Posted by ThwWayofNoWay View Post

    Has the processing power of our mobile devices gotten to where that feature can now be implemented?
    Definitely not. Mobile devices may be a lot more powerful than they used to be, but they can't compare to a computer. If you're not sure what I mean, try setting the canvas on Android to the max size (2048x2048) and adding a few layers - you'll almost always see a worse performance than at 500x500, simply due to the lack of memory/processing power. A computer would not struggle the same way.


    Other stuff:

    - the colour picker shortcuts are new additions to the iPad app from the big 2.0 update. The Android app is still in 'wrap up all the bugs from release' mode, and we'll be slowly adding features to bring it up to the level of the iPad app over time, but we'll be focusing on the big stuff (like Transform and Scripts!) first. There are also going to be a few OS differences, and the Android app has to work on a much wider range of devices (e.g. small phones), so some of the UI has to be a bit more flexible because of that. So whether this particular shortcut makes it in, we don't know yet!

    - three fingers left/right is undo/redo, same as for iOS. All the gestures should be the same across both platforms.

    - Android styluses have, until very recently, only been the S Pen or nothing. The S Pen already has functions assigned to it by the OS. We might look at expanding stylus support over time, but it's going to depend a lot on what happens with the hardware.
    Ambient Design Tech Support & Community Manager

    This is not my signature.

    Go forth and read the tutorials. Also, check out the featured artists!

  3. #3
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    Greetings, HannahRage.

    Thank you for that quick response to my inquiries.

    RE: Three finger swipe.
    Thank you for pointing that out to me. I was, most likely, doing gestures on a blank or crowded canvas and didn't notice any change when I performed the gesture. Since I had concluded that it did nothing, who know how long it would have been before I realized it did actually serve a purpose. Please, pardon me.

    RE: Differences between Android and iOS interfaces.
    OK, I understand. Looking forward to seeing these improvements for Android. I must say, though, Android users seem to be the ugly stepchildren in the minds of mobile developers. Even with more Android devices in existence than Apple devices, we get everything last, and it's seldom as good as the iOS versions. Could fragmentation be that big of a deterrent? (rhetorical)

    RE: Stylus.
    I'm gonna call shenanigans on this explanation. When AR went mobile on Android, the first note 10" tablet and the Note II phones had been out for a while. When I bought myself a Note Pro 12, AR Mobile for Android was still exclusive to the Galaxy Store. The Samsung interface has always provided the option to turn off its use of the S pen button, making it fully available to apps (usually art apps) that sought to utilized it without interference from TouchWiz. The S button is, in fact, still available to apps while being used by TouchWiz, but the popup ring will appear every time it's pressed, and that can be annoying to deal with while working at art. So, then, let's just say Ambient Software simply decided to ignore the S Pen button. Also, after market pens that worked with the aforementioned devices often came with two buttons. Looking forward to seeing these assets put to use.

    RE: What I refered to a "lag and unresponsiveness."
    If I were actually having a problem with my devices, the solutions you've provided would have been a great help. However, my devices are fine. Maybe the way I described the problem exaggerated its true nature. What I mean when I criticize the stylus tracking is evident in the photos linked below. There, you see a drawn outline of a rectangle that has been loosely filled in using both the pencil and pen tools of ArtRage. The same test was peeformed in the apps Artecture and Sketchbook Pro, from the play store, for comparison. The problem should be obvious. In all instances of filling the shape, the stylus's path extended all the way to the shape's edge. However, in ArtRage, the fact that the tracking does not follow the stylus precisely is clearly evident by the white spaces at the edged, what I think looks like sidewalks with a street in the middle. I have a Note Pro 12.2 tablet and a Note 3 phone, both these devices run fine, and the effect occurs on both when using ArtRage. It's the app, itself. The solution is to create strokes slower. But, for one that draws with a quick hand, like myself, that's a hindrance. It appears that if the stroke were to follow the stylus's path precisely, then the lag would be that much more noticeable, and the quality of the user experience would decline, significantly. So, ultimately, I still think AR is not properly optimized for sketching.


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    RE: Real color blending
    The "too processing intensive" explanation doesn't hold up, to me.
    I can edit and process 1080p video on my tablet. I can produce studio quality music with software synthesizers, multi-track editors and DAW apps (Digital Audio Workstation apps), watch 4K video, sculpt 3d models, and play some amazingly processor intensive 3d games. All these apps are coded and optimized for the architecture of the ARM processors. Yes, you're right. The x86 and x64 CPUs of desktops are built to consume more power, hence, they will certainly perform at a different, higher level. But, the fact that this very Android tablet of mine can do so many things that I wouldn't have the patience to attempt on my 10 year old LE1700 tablet PC, which, somehow, manages to run AR for PC well enough to still be fun, makes me think this is just an optimization issue. An issue of Mathematics. We can do so much with our mobile devices because the software they run is written and optimized for their processors.

    When I changed the blending to real color blending mode on my old Tablet PC and monitored the CPU usage, each brush stroke demanded approximately 60% of processor power. The same power used when the mode was turned off. No difference in processing use, there. ArtRage for PC seems properly optimized for the processor it runs on. There are many art apps that would be a pain to run on that old machine. But, not ArtRage. It barely runs Corel Painter. I feel like the problem is that the Dev. team hasn't figured out how to implement the feature WITHOUT it using excess processing power, which is not the processor's fault. I don't however, feel that it is ultimately a feature that, if properly implemented, MUST require any excess of processing power. But, what do I know? I've seen what artists create with this mobile app and know that even without the real color blending feature, it is still a wonderful tool to have at my disposal. So, thanks again.

    Best, regards.

  4. #4
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    Couple of clarifications:

    Quote Originally Posted by ThwWayofNoWay View Post
    Greetings, HannahRage.
    RE: Stylus.
    I'm gonna call shenanigans on this explanation. When AR went mobile on Android, the first note 10" tablet and the Note II phones had been out for a while. When I bought myself a Note Pro 12, AR Mobile for Android was still exclusive to the Galaxy Store. The Samsung interface has always provided the option to turn off its use of the S pen button, making it fully available to apps (usually art apps) that sought to utilized it without interference from TouchWiz. The S button is, in fact, still available to apps while being used by TouchWiz, but the popup ring will appear every time it's pressed, and that can be annoying to deal with while working at art. So, then, let's just say Ambient Software simply decided to ignore the S Pen button. Also, after market pens that worked with the aforementioned devices often came with two buttons. Looking forward to seeing these assets put to use.
    We specifically asked about turning off TouchWiz when we first worked on ArtRage for Android as part of the Samsung bundle that enabled us to get it to market and were instructed not to. This may change in the future along with the potential for supporting other pens and their specific features in the future.


    Quote Originally Posted by ThwWayofNoWay View Post
    Greetings, HannahRage.
    RE: Real color blending
    The "too processing intensive" explanation doesn't hold up, to me.
    The examples you give are generally accelerated by specific processors. At this point in time the real colour blending code, which does some pretty odd proprietary stuff, doesn't run well enough on the mobile processors for us to be happy with it. While it may be possible to optimise it for specific processors that's not something we're working on currently.
    Matt
    ArtRage UI
    Ambient Design.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the response, Matt.

    RE: S Pen.
    I understand. It's not even that big of a deal, frankly. It's just a convenience I've gotten used to that would have been nice to have in AR. Fingers crossed.

    RE: Real color blending
    I get it. The app is still a great piece of mobile software. I'm just one nit picky user who had a dream. Still, I'm hopeful we'll see it across all platforms in the future.

    Do you mind taking a gander at the issue displayed in the screen shots posted? That of stylus tracking. This happens on both my devices. The simple test, draw and shade a shape with both pencil and pen tools. See if the shading lines follow your stylus to the edges of the shape, as expected. As evident in the screen shots, they don't for me.

    Interestingly, since posting those shots, I've installed an app called AZ Screen Recorder from the Play Store on the Note 12" tablet. While that app is screen recording the issue with the tracking seems to disappear, but only while AZ Screen Recorder is recording. I did not notice any significant performance change or degradation in AR, besides that. This app is not available for my phone, and no alternative screen recording app that I tried on that device yielded this result. AZ Recorder requires root access and also has a drawing mode where you can draw on the screen while recording. Maybe there's a correlation.

    Edit: No other screen recorder app that I tried on my Tablet yielded any improvement either. It seems AV Recorder stands alone.

    Here's a shot of those results.:
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    Kind regards.
    Last edited by ThwWayofNoWay; 05-23-2016 at 12:47 PM.

  6. #6
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    The screen recorder issue is interesting - Not sure why that would be happening but I'm chatting with Miriam who handles our Android build and I'll let you know what comes out of that.
    Matt
    ArtRage UI
    Ambient Design.

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