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ShadowCaster
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Joined: 23 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2004 4:46 am    Post subject: Computer techie willing to help artists Reply with quote

I'm no artist, unless you use Scott's definition of art, but I love comics and think there must be webcomic's artist who's imagination doesn't end as comic because of technical problems.
I'm willing to help those artists.
Merlin's tarqin engine is a good counter example : some people have the talent, the technical competence and the time to make their dreamed comics come true. (If you're reading this, Merlin, I have made a svg version (not perfect yet) of externality if you're interessed)


What I'm asking is to explain your dreams. For example, how would you like an interface to make 3D webcomics to be ? What would the comic look like, and how would the reader read it ?


I'd also like to know if web cartoonists would be interessed in me building user friendly tools for building as small (in file size) image files as possible.
An example, jpg format is best suited for photographic images while png is best suited for graphics with fewer colors and brutal color changes like this emoticon. Images containing both are either small but with visible jpg artefacts around brutal color changes, or far too big if image quality is set too high, just for the sake of those few brutal color changes that will anyway not look perfect. What most people don't know because no tool to my knowlege allows this is that the jpg format splits the image into small 8x8 pixel squares, then apply a lossy color changing function on it (how lossy depends on the quality setting when saving), then compresses the sequence of modified squares with a lossless compression and stores the result in a file. I can write a program where you could open a TIFF file for exemple, then select areas of 8x8 tiles and choose the quality for the given area and have as a result a jpg that would both be small and have few arefacts around choosen important areas like bubbles.
A "convert for the web" tool could also be built to convert TIFF to png, with the artist giving hints about the image.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. I'm not exactly a professional comic artist, either - more of an avocation . . . but that's quite the offer.

Certainly the file thing has been something I've been struggling with - I've been told that 150 kb is about all that should be expected from a comic image of reasonable size. I've played with jpegs (they get blocky), pngs (which don't seem to display properly on several test pages I've done), and gifs, which don't seem to reduce quite enough at high quality, and get kind of iffy at lower qualities. I've just started producing my work online, and it's kind of a pain. In a way, I guess it depends on how much time it would take - if it's easy, then great. Otherwise, I can play with my images some more. They almost always come out okay with enough experimentation.

As for other things . . . ideally, I think the presentation engine would vary for each comic. If we're really talking about design to enhance, and not just support the art, then it needs to be flexible enough to suit a lot of different possibilities, packaged into a pretty clean set of options. Naturally, simplicity wars with options. I have a hard time envisioning a 3D engine without more artwork than I can really create right now.

Some things I'd really like to have as I've designed comics in the past:

Images that change/melt with mouse passover. Especially useful if you're taking a panel from far shot to close up.

Images that would change with time (transparency enabled). Nice for having that skull gradually fade into the back of the panel during the horror plot-layout. (Or whatever.)

Easy add-ins for sound, animation, darken image, contrast image, blur, zoom, fade, etc. tied to time or location of page or mouse position. (These could also be layovers - create two images, with a "switch" between them, but the less work, the happier I am.) Especially nice would be a color bleed in option, where the image starts black and white and gradually adds color information. God bless you if you can get this limited to just part of an image. (A panel, for example.)

Simple transition animations in place - page turn simulation from one page to another, or fades. For one story, I'd really like to have seen an animation that treated my images like they were on adjoining sides of a cube. As the reader finished, he or she could click, and the cube would visually rotate, and the next "side" of the cube would be revealed. Extra brownie points for other geometric shapes - spheres, dodecahedrons, etc.

I've been playing with ideas for two almost totally opposite ideas - hands-off reading and additional reader involvement. With hands-off, it would be nice if the screen could "follow" the flow of the comic without needing clicks or scrolling on the part of the reader. This is tricky, since it could be more distracting, and people read at such different speeds. Maybe some other people have more thoughts on this . . . all I can come up with is the "timed" interface, with perhaps different selections that the reader can make, from "superspeed reader" to "snail paced."

I've also wanted to play with "Choose your own adventure" style comic, where the reader chooses which storyline to follow, or what decision the character makes (between two or more options). Unfortunately, that's just been really hard for me to implement without making a physical flowsheet covered with complicated pointers. It's been so ugly that I haven't even tried. Off the top of my head, my "helper" engine would need to:
Help me organize storylines that branch off, and where they re-attach. (Not essential, but really nice.)
Help create the pathways to these various pages (i.e. choice 1 leads to page 3a, choice 2 leads to page 6)
Make it clear when I've 'forgotten' threads, and make those easy to go back and fix.
Make it easy to modify 'paths' between choices.
Make it easy to add choices.
'Save' the reader's place at the last choice, and be willing to 'resurrect' them at the last branch that they picked so they don't have to push the back button lots of times or restart the entire comic. (Or last major branch, or whatever I choose.)
More stuff, I'm sure, that I haven't thought of.

Wow. That was probably way more information than you wanted. This is all purely a wish list, of course - I certainly don't expect this software. But hey - you asked, and it's something I've been kind of brooding over for a while.
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ShadowCaster
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Joined: 23 Sep 2003
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Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Guest, next time please login and post url to your work.

jpegs get blocky because each time you save them you lose some information. So if youu do it a lot, they end blocky event with correct compression ratio. Work on a lossless format and only convert a copy to jpg for uploading on the web.

pngs : palette based pngs with simple transparency look good on any browser supporting pngs. IE has problsms with transparent non palette pngs (drawn aginst grey background) and index semi transparent ones (semi transparent pixels are not displayed at all).

Gif : convert them to palette png and optimize the png's to gain file size.

Quote:
Images that change/melt with mouse passover

Be more specific please.

Quote:

Easy add-ins for sound, animation, darken image, contrast image, blur, zoom, fade, etc. tied to time or location of page or mouse position. (These could also be layovers - create two images, with a "switch" between them, but the less work, the happier I am.) Especially nice would be a color bleed in option, where the image starts black and white and gradually adds color information. God bless you if you can get this limited to just part of an image. (A panel, for example.)

Simplest way to implement these is to use java applets. I could write a general purpouse applet to do these effect.
Look at http://www.boutell.com/JpegAnim/ for an example of an applet that can be used as a comic effect, then specify precisely the parameters you want and theire effect and I'll see if I can implement these effects.


Quote:

Simple transition animations in place - page turn simulation from one page to another, or fades. For one story, I'd really like to have seen an animation that treated my images like they were on adjoining sides of a cube. As the reader finished, he or she could click, and the cube would visually rotate, and the next "side" of the cube would be revealed. Extra brownie points for other geometric shapes - spheres, dodecahedrons, etc

There again be more specific : where do you click, how do you define the reading order ? How do you read a comic on a sphere ?
For the cube, i't's quite easy to do : I can write an applet that takes 6 square image urls, another parameter to specify the reading order (like order="126435" but the comic would be 6 pannels at most, and I'm not sure it would add much against a simple side by side 6 pannels comics.
dodecahedrons and other shapes like that sound much promissing to me, especially because thevisible neigbourhood of the current pannel/face could be used for nice narrative effects. Biggest problem is that images are rectangular, the image passed to the script could be a rectangular flat vertion containing all the shapes ? How would you specify the reading orientation of a pannel ?

Hands off is nice, as long as the reading path is unique. the interface could be just a slider to specify the reader's speed. Effect like Scott's falling giant pannel would work well with this. The interface for defining the comic could be a bit like that of the tarkin engine : you place panels for the global layout of the comic with drag and drop, but instead of putting special pannels for the navigation, you would specify a segmented path for the camera to follow. Each segment could have a time value, an each point a zoom value. I'll do it once the engine is released.

Quote:
without making a physical flowsheet covered with complicated pointers

That's how all these stories are done.
Usually, a big linear story is planned, and every part of that story is a point in the story that the player can't avoid. The pointer mess is delt in beetween.
A simple way to "time rewind" is to show thumbnails of all the pannels the players has read so far (use the full size images reduces with the width attribute, they've been read before so the browther has the in the cache)
Clicking on a thumbnail rewinds time to that pannel by just linking to the page.
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Rip Tanion
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2004 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Images that change/melt with mouse passover
Gee, I didn't know mice celebrated Passover. I never saw Jerry, Mickey, or Pixie and Dixie at a sedar.

I'm sorry, but I just couldn't resist that one.
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ShadowCaster
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Joined: 23 Sep 2003
Posts: 93
Location: France

PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2004 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a free java very customizable fading effect see http://www.oliverlabs.net/tools/fader/
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