Posts Tagged

Graphics

I first heard about The Settlers of Catan in CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, and I was surprised to never have played such a popular title. The board game, if you don’t already know, was invented in Germany and became extremely popular outside Europe, selling over 15 million copies in the U.S. by 2009. It’s also available as a video game on common platforms like the Nintendo DS, PC, and the Mac.

While the game has been available on iOS since late 2009, there hasn’t been an official Mac app until this July saw the release of Catan. I’ve been playing it for the past few days to get a hang of things. The board game is great, but will the legend live on in a Mac world? (more…)

In May, Adobe announced that it would be discontinuing the Creative Suite line and focus solely on Creative Cloud. While this decision left the creative professionals somewhat frustrated, it doesn’t really affect the average consumer since Photoshop was already priced out of reach.

However, May also ushered in two bits of news with particular interest to the everyday user — both Acorn and Pixelmator received major updates. While not the powerhouse that Photoshop is, don’t be too quick to dismiss them, since they’re very capable and affordable apps.

I decided to pit the two against one another to see which would fare best and was somewhat surprised by what I found.

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Web development remains one of the areas in which the Mac app ecosystem shines brightest. As the technologies underpinning the internet continue to evolve, we’re thrilled to see eager developers providing new tools to take advantage of those technologies and simplify formerly arduous tasks. Like producing graphics code, for instance.

Last year, I reviewed PaintCode, an app that facilitates the creation of Objective-C interface graphics using natural graphic design tools. PixelCut has expanded their reach with the brand new WebCode, an app that offers the same tools geared toward the creation of code-based graphics for the web.

After the jump, let’s dig in to see if the tools are as useful for web design as they were for app development.

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When it comes to image editors, Adobe Photoshop remains the gold standard for professionals. But for students, the amateur, or anyone starting their career, the $700 price tag (or even ~$200 with a student discount) is likely prohibitive. There are cheaper apps available, such as Acorn and Pixelmator, but they offer far fewer features.

Luckily, there’s GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a completely free and open source image editor that nearly matches Photoshop’s versatility. It’s long been available on the Mac if you had X11 installed, but never looked the part of a high quality Mac app. That’s all changed with the latest 2.8.2 release of Gimp, which shipped as a fully native Mac app. That’s what prompted us to take a closer look at the most popular Photoshop alternate.

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I have a Wacom tablet, and I love using it for a variety of purposes. If I want to do any sort of digital drawing or painting it is, of course, my tool of choice. Sometimes the drawings get quite detailed, full of many layers, colors, textures and more. In cases like those, opening Photoshop is completely justified. If, however, I just want to do a quick sketch or mock-up, opening Photoshop (or Corel or Sketchbook Pro or any other feature-heavy digital drawing/painting program) doesn’t always seem justified. When I find myself in that situation, I’m never quite sure what to do. Lately, however, I’ve been utilizing a great program called Inkist.

Inkist is a great new bitmap-based drawing and painting program that is great for simple drawings. The app works well with drawing tablets, boasts a small but intuitive feature set for a quick program, and is quite well designed. It’s definitely worth looking into, especially if you find yourself constantly waiting for Photoshop to load for just a few minutes worth of work. Read on to learn more about Inkist’s features, how it works and what I really think about it.

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There’s nothing easy about app design. Despite Apple’s best efforts to make the tools for OSX and iOS development as intuitive as possible, anyone who has done it knows that there’s a lot more to creating a terrific user experience than simply using fancy graphics and assembling the code.

For one thing, the interaction between the visuals and the code is important to manage well so that the app doesn’t grow unnecessarily huge in size. PaintCode, a new app from PixelCut software, aims to ease this aspect of production by providing you with an environment for drawing interface elements that are instantly rendered into raw code — so you can have fine visuals without the bloat.

Though it serves a complicated niche, PaintCode could revolutionize the way developers handle in-app graphics in a way that has implications for all app enthusiasts, so we dive in to see how well it rises to the challenge.

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If you create apps in addition to using them, then you know that it can be a real pain to optimize your artwork for various devices. Prepo is a free application that aims to make the task of converting retina display artwork to ‘normal’ app artwork less tedious.

Does it succeed in making the conversion process quick and pain free? Read on to find out.

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I recently acquired a Wacom tablet. I love using it, but being the software geek that I am I was eager to find some software to use the tablet with. Now, keep in mind that the tablet can typically be used as a mouse replacement and can be used with any program you desire. In fact, playing solitaire or mahjong with the tablet is a great way to get used to using a new tablet.

With that in mind, I tried to stick to programs where pressure sensitivity is used, or where having a tablet is exceptionally helpful, even without pressure sensitivity. I’ll cover the basics that you most likely already know of if you have a tablet, give you some freeware apps to check out and then show you some new and exciting apps that you might not have thought to use before.

 
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Hype, by developers Tumult, seems to have a rather appropriate title. There has been a great deal of talk about this web animation app since its release some months ago, and that can hardly be a surprise, given that it claims to allow the user to create “beautiful HTML5 web content” and animations with no coding required, and that it is developed by a pair of ex-Apple engineers.

Does it deliver on its promises, or does this app get too much “hype” for its own good?

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