Suggestions for Curvy 4

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Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:04 pm

Hello all,

I'd like to start a topic to discuss suggestions for Curvy 4. Feel free to add your thoughts here. ;)

- Modern GUI
Firstly, I'd like to recommend that the Curvy GUI be modernized. Take a look at modern programs like MODO, Maya, and Photoshop. Everything from the color to the icons to the layout should be rethought, imo.

- Reduce Icons
I think that a lot of the icons on the current Curvy GUI could be reduced, making the GUI simpler, easier to use and to learn. For example, there is Add and Subtract under Sculpt. But these are essentially the same, just inverted. Instead of having two icons, why not have only one, Add, and then use a keyboard modifier to access Subtract. Add would work with just the mouse/stylus. Subtract would be the same, but with CTRL pressed. And you could press SHIFT while using Add to SMOOTH. This could be done the same with Inflate/Deflate - use just one icon and a keyboard shortcut (such as CTRL) to modify (to switch from Inflate to Deflate). Shift would always SMOOTH on either tool. Doing something like this allows the end-user to create without having to move off the view port constantly to click icons.

- Make Curvy Work on Tablets and Touch Enabled Devices
Many artists work on tablets, like the Microsoft Surface pro, or on Wacom Cintiq-like devices that not only use a stylus, but use touch and gestures. I currently use a Dell Canvas (based on Wacom tech, so it's like the Cintiq 27QHD Touch) and it has revolutionized the way I draw, paint, and work in 3D. With touch enabled devices and apps made to work properly with them, I can tumble the 3D viewport, pan, and zoom with touch gestures using my fingers. In a 2D app, like Photoshop, I can rotate the canvas, zoom, and pan, too. This is a very natural experience. This means that the program recognizes what touch is and, therefore, does not draw or create geometry when a finger is pressing on the screen. Currently, in Curvy when you move a finger across a touch enabled screen it's the same as moving the mouse or stylus with the left mouse button pressed.

A modern GUI for Curvy should also have a "tablet mode" so that people can work without a keyboard as much as possible. So, not only the touch/gesture controls I talked about before, but buttons that are friendly to fingers (when in tablet mode) and the ability to set up custom buttons for frequently used functions and hot keys. Paintstorm Studio, a painting app, does this nicely on the iPad, for example. Clip Studio Paint (formerly Manga Studio 5) also has a nice tablet mode that works great on a Cintiq, etc.

I'll keep thinking and see what else I can come up with. I need to get back into using Curvy so I can make better suggestions, too. :)
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:58 pm

Thanks for the ideas. GUI and touch are important, I'd need to get the hardware to see how it works in practice. Until then getting everything working with a regular tablet would be a start.

I made the 3.0 GUI with the idea that everything should be available, with minimal hiding things away. However that resulted with crowded panels, and loads of stuff hidden in the menu system. I'm coming round to thinking that menus are bad, and it would be better to open a panel with options for the current activity. With previous panels docked/minimised/tabbed, so you quickly end up with easy access to the commands you need.

Overall I'll happily make any changes that make it easier to use for regular users, and easier to pickup for new users - I think there is a huge amount of room for improvement with both. I guess the ideal is that an interested user can learn to use most of the functionality without a separate helpfile/tutorial, and that the experienced user can remember and access everything they need easily.

Are there any other particular must have UI features from other apps?

With screens getting larger and widescreen beign the norm there it is much more reasonable to use extra space for larger panels and dockables, both to the sides and top/bottom. Especially for brief tasks like setting options, or adjusting parameters - these can just be onscreen docks rather than Windows popup windows.


Luckily after 3.0 the UI code is pretty easy to change. I'll do some more research.

For my reference:
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:47 pm

Before I get into any UI particulars, I'd recommend taking a look at Paintstorm Studio:

http://www.paintstormstudio.com/index.html

Initially, the UI is pretty ugly, in my opinion. But the real beauty behind Paintstorm, and one of the things that has people talking (besides the fantastic brush engine), is how FLEXIBLE the UI is.

As far as screens getting larger ... yes. For example, I am working on a 27", high-res, interactive pen display now (the Dell Canvas). However, a lot of artists are working, or also like to work, on their MS Surface Pros, which are smaller 12 or 13 inch screens. So, the ability to work with a minimized GUI is always welcomed.

Even when I am working on my 27" Canvas, I want as much of the GUI gone as I can. That leaves me most of my screen real estate for creating my art.

As far as touch support, I realize that it will be difficult to program if you don't have access to the hardware. However, I am willing to beta test any touch stuff you want to throw at me. Just letting you know. ;)

Once I get a little more time I will get deeper into Curvy and, if you don't mind, I'll create a mock-up UI that I think would work well with it. Would that help?
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:53 pm

I had a look and couldn't find the Dell Canvas application programming interface. I wonder if there is a standard way to access that - especially things liek the difference between a touch gesture and a stylus stroke.

Taking a look at Paintstorm now. For 3.0 I used GIMP as inspiration. I like a lot of the dockables in Inkscape too. I don't tend to use many other 3D programs, but when I do I often get lost and can't remember where to find features - perhaps inevitable given their complexity and many purposes.

Any input you can offer on the UI side is much appreciated. Be it pointers to existing apps, or actual mockups to reskin Curvy :D

I've made a pc strategy game recently that has a proper scalable UI so it will work properly on the huge resolution screens people have now. I can see how that is essential for Curvy too, both for mouse and stylus reasons to stop items getting too small. Should be fairly easy to translate, once text and icons work in multires the rest should be easy.

On a technical level all the GUI stuff is pretty straight forward - all the hard work is in the design and consideration of typical workflows (where I have to be careful not to penalise novices with over complex issues - perhaps even a Novice UI, and an Expert UI like several apps use)
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:25 pm

I had a look and couldn't find the Dell Canvas application programming interface. I wonder if there is a standard way to access that - especially things liek the difference between a touch gesture and a stylus stroke.


The Dell Canvas basically uses Wacom tech nor their stylus. So, to find stylus info, look to Wacom.

As far as touch features, I believe they are using the Windows API for that. To make changes to Touch on the Canvas, you access the Windows Pen and Touch area under Settings.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:28 pm

When it comes to both 2D and 3D work, you're right. These are deep programs and people will use them differently. As a case in point, I had a friend who was a photographer and he knew Photoshop inside and out. However, he didn't know MOST of what I knew when it came to using Photoshop for creating illustrations. And I was equally lost when I saw him doing his photo magic! Photoshop is HUGE! And I definitely would not want to use Photoshop with a GUI that was designed just for photographers! Nor would photographers want a GUI just for drawing and painting! It's important that the end-user be able to set up the GUI for how they work, giving them access to the tools they will most often use.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:38 pm

Another thing to consider are standards. Whether we like them or not, certain programs have created standards that just about every other software uses. CTRL+C and CTRL+V are pretty much the standard way to copy/paste in virtually all programs on the PC as a result of things like this. Other standards are in use for both 3D and 2D programs, too. If we attempt to adhere to these standards where possible, then we do two things:

1 - We make it easier for people who are familiar with other software to learn and use Curvy3D
2 - We make it easier for people who learn Curvy3D to also use other software

So, when I suggested getting rid of extra icons, such as only having only an ADD button instead of both ADD and SUBTRACT, this was to adhere to pretty well established standards. If a tool does one thing, like pushing geometry up, then using the same tool with a modifier key will push the geometry down. This not only simplifies the GUI, but it also makes it very fast to move from ADD to SUBTRACT. It's a modifier key now. Brush to add. Hold the modifier key and brush to subtract. This way you can easily switch from one to the other via the modifier key, all the while keeping your eye on your work and your mouse or stylus going about its task! And, as mentioned, another modifier key gives instant access to SMOOTH. Using a GUI philosophy like this means that the artist can do most of their work with the one button and then modify via modifier key.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:33 pm

ARGH forum ate my reply TWICE :evil:

In short: Paintstorm Good. Lightyears ahead of Curvy in UI - so much can be learnt from that. Technically it is not a problem to impliment once I have my head around the design. If you have ideas to improve on it - any aspects from the other apps - we could make a really slick modern UI :D

I seem to remember adding Add and Sub separately exactly so tablet users could use the tools without needing a keyboard modifier. Would you expect a Tablet User to press an onscreen toggle - or set a shortcut on a pen button or something else? Certainly some people sit with the tablet and don't want to reach for the keyboard while working.

Mouse users simply press the Left or Right buttons to Add or Sub, and hold SHIFT to smooth.

However, the add/sub behaviour in a new UI would likely move into the brush options panel (customisable with a key/button). I guess it is better to toggle rather than hold down the modifier?

I suppose I should cater for the standard case, and allow customisation (perhaps with presets) for the main alternatives:
  • Mouse only
  • Mouse and keyboard
  • Tablet only
  • Tablet and Keyboard
  • Tablet and Touch
  • Tablet and Touch and Keyboard

You should be able to draw/select/control the view easily in each case (some of them might need additional onscreen controls/buttons).
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:22 am

I don't have a lot of time at the moment, so I will write a quick reply. Hopefully a more detailed reply will follow.

Yes, tablet users (and even those using a Cintiq, Dell Canvas, etc.) will most likely want to avoid touching their keyboards as much as possible. Watch a few videos on Paintstorm Studio on the iPad to see what they did. They basically gave the end-user touch buttons that they can position where they will and customize as they please. So, for example, you could have SHIFT, ALT, and CTRL right there by the thumb of your non-dominant hand. Something like this could be a part of a"tablet mode" in Curvy3D and would not be there unless the end-user turned "tablet mode" on in preferences.

Currently, I am using a discontinued, but free program called RadialMenu. You can find it here:

http://radialmenu.weebly.com/

This allows me to create a custom toolbar and a pop-up radial menu with nested menus, etc., that give me access to program specific shortcuts, macros, etc. It's also program specific, meaning that I can create different menus for different programs and it will display the correct one depending on which program you are using. So, I have a specific setup for Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, etc.

Paintstorm Studio provides something like RaidalMenu, but only for the iPad version. So, I use RadialMenu for it on my PC.

What I am saying here is that the solution to a tablet version is not to clutter the GUI with various buttons to give the end-user access to features, but to give them a cleaner way to access these features. If the method to access features is the same between standard and tablet versions, then the program is easier to learn. It is fairly standard to create a brush like ADD and have a modifier key make it SUBTRACT and another modifier key make it SMOOTH. So, instead of cluttering up the GUI with buttons for each instance (Add, Subtract, Inflate, Deflate, etc.), reduce the number of buttons to one for each function and a modifier key for the opposite function and then add a method of accessing those modifiers for tablet users (like Paintstorm did for the iPad).

If the tablet feature is able to be customized, then the end-user can program in the functions they use the most.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:07 am

I had meant to talk about ZBrush in one of my previous posts, but didn't. So, I will bring it up here and talk about its GUI for a moment. As I am sure you know, ZBrush is a fantastic 3D sculpting/modeling software that is used worldwide. However, it has people pretty well divided over one thing - it's GUI! There are those that cannot or refuse to use ZBrush, despite how powerful it is, simply because of the GUI. The main issue? It is too different from everything else ... it breaks too many conventions. ZBrush certainly has it's own way of doing things and people who learn how to work the ZBrush way swear that the GUI is great. Even so, for many, going from one 3D app to ZBrush and back is like having to relearn muscle memory all over again. Despite the awards, despite the awesome work that has been and is being done, and despite how long ZBrush has been out, its GUI remains a bit of a controversy.

I would say that if you are not going to go with well established conventions, then you'd better have a really good reason not to. If you break convention, then the reason should be (or become) obvious to the end-user that your way is better in Curvy3D than the standard is in other programs. To this day, there are people who own a license of ZBrush, who genuinely desire to learn to use it, but have not (and have had the program for years) because they cannot wrap their heads around the GUI and it's unique conventions. And these people work comfortably in other 3D programs like Maya, 3DS Max, and MODO!
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:42 am

The UI itself shouldn't be the hard bit for a user - there are plenty enough challenges with the sculpting itself. Consistancy with Photoshop, Windows, Other 3d apps is important. And where there are more advanced or rarely used features these should be neatly tucked away until you go looking for them.

I would like a new user to come away thinking - that was a easy to use alternative to other 3D apps. And a old user to and have a quicker workflow.

If I rebuild everything generically things like custom shortcuts and radial menus should be easy enough. Same for custom "floating" onscreen buttons. And then it is a simple step to adding multiple Workspaces including typical Tablet options.

One thing I think I'd really like is a decent context menu in a panel or toolbar, with access to a fair number of the menu commands with one click, depending on my selection.

Perhaps even a whole sub section dedicated to detailed actions (Where at the moment I have a number of submenus and options in menus). That way I could offer more paremeters for these actions in a fairly non-obtrusive way. (Removing the need for submenus with a choice of parameter eg: Reduce 5%, Reduce 10%, Reduce 50%, Reduce 100%). Ideally you would be able to keep the action in a "live preview" mode until you finish changing the parameters (Automating the Edit, Undo, Redo cycle)
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Funken » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:34 pm

Panels and viewport reminds of 90's 3d programs. Highly nostalgic but still it feels a bit out-dated. :D The icons are quite nice, though.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby granada » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:28 pm

Hi guys,great suggestions going on here.i would also like to be able to drag parts of the gui into other monitors ,I have 3set up and like to have a large free work area.

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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:35 pm

Hi granada :) Multi monitor is something I've touched on slightly recently. Until now Curvy couldn't even be dragged between screens - but I think I've fixed that.

Opening extra windows on different monitors would be very cool if I can get past the technical hiccups. I know other people have done it - so I'll do some research.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:20 pm

Aesthetics
Dan, you say you like the functionality of Paintstorm, but not it's look. What apps do you think have the best visuals for UI?

Personally looking at the examples above:

Photoshop is minimal with very thin borders.So it can present a lot of dense UI cleanly.
Modo seems a bit too bulky with all the curved trims, but is clear and fun.
Maya seems the most powerful, with clean 2 colour icons (not sure what all those light grey coloured icons in the toolbar though - nasty)

I think Icons are good instead of text where possible - and then tooltips can provide a full name and perhaps even a description too.

Rendering the menubar, and perhaps the window title bar in-app would be good.

Workflow
The app will revolve more around activities, rather than putting as much as possible on screen. Ideally you would have a toolbar and perhaps a couple of panels open relating to the task at hand, with all the commands/actions/settings right there in the UI while they are needed. For example one activity would be "Mesh Reduction", another might be "Primitive Creation" or "Surface Sculpting".

Where before certain activities would use nested menus, I will put the choices and parameters in a modal, or docking panel depending on the activity. And ideally things that have an 'execute' button would also have a 'preview' tickbox so you can fiddle with the settings before you commit.
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