I've just purchased artrage today and really love the speed and real media feel of it. I do have a few suggestions I hope you guys consider however.
I think the way AR hides it's pallets while painting in that area is pretty clever, but it is also kinda scarey because i may lift my brush a few times while painting strokes which always causes an accidental click somewhere on a pallet.
Instead of having the pallets always visible, why not have them all hidden except for when the user taps the side of the screen/window with the cursor. This is the behavior of a taskbar 8) . I've found this extremely useful in a script I coded for Photoshop and Opencanvas and use it daily. I really think this would help eliminate the uncertainty of painting near a pallet. There's a few different ways I've hidden pallets:
1) Hiding every pallet until the cursor is near any edge of the monitor, then all pallet reappear staying visible while the user uses one of them, and disappearing when the cursor moves away.
2)Same as above except only the pallet that appears is one near the cursor...not all of them.
3)All pallets are hidden, when the user hits a screen edge with his cursor that edge's pallets appear. IE. the cursor hits the right edge and all pallets located on the right edge appear.
#3 So far is my favorite because it keeps the screen uncluttered and still gives you a group of pallet is that spot. :P
Changing brush settings is a hassle
I can kinda understand why there hasn't been a brush settings pallet yet with so many pallet on screen all the time. It can get big pretty fast with so many brush variaties! How about a brush panel that only appears for as long as you hold down a hotkey? Or toggled off and on with a hotkey? It would have small thumbnails giving the user an idea of what the brush's stroke looked like. This is basically what photoshop has, but I bet you guys can do a better job with yours. Oh, and for brush type there could be an icon to the left of each stroke thumbnail depicting what kind of brush it is. I think the icons in the brush pallet are great as they are. Just stand them up vertically and they're ready to put into a menu. :wink:
Changing brush size and other settings could be quicker. SAI has it's brush resizing down very well. While holding CTRL & ALT it shows a small percentage bar. You can use this bar to resize the brush or drag on the cavas and it will show a circle depicting the brush size as you drag. Having something like this for each brush setting would be pretty cool. For example, holding a hotkey give the user a bar where his cursor is and he could drag along it to change the setting. Or...have the brush settings bar be horizontal instead of vertical and have it appear at the cursor's location when holding a hot key. It'd be nice to have the option to have the hotkey in ethier "toggle" or "hold" mode too I especially like the idea of pallets appearing where the cursor is right where you need them and only when you need them. It would be quick to use and keep the interface clutter down.
The stencils idea is pretty cool, but I think being able to directly draw a mask might be a bit more practical. Almost every painting I do requires a new type of shape for an area that needs to be masked off. I'll ethier draw the mask myself of select pixels with a wand tool (in SAI or photoshop). I do like the stencils however. They could be useful elements in a painting sometime. :wink:
I do love the mouse wheel zoom and panning around the image using the spacebar. The reference image idea is pure gold! Keep up the great work!