Suggestions for Curvy 4

Discussion and updates on Curvy 3D Beta development.

Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:33 pm

I'll start by saying that I think visuals for UI can be very subjective. I tend to like the darker UI's that tend toward dark grays. But that's not for everyone. As a result, I like the modern Photoshop dark UI, MODO's UI colors are really appealing to me, too. I don't like UI's with a lot of color because I find them distracting. I don't want the UI to get in the way of me creating my art. But the UI does need to be functional and the icons/text need to be readable so the end-user knows what they are (or can easily learn what they are supposed to be).

As far as the MODO UI, it can be altered. In the screen shot you posted, it is open to a particular layout for Mesh Fusion, so all the Mesh Fusion tools are visible for quick access to the end-user.

I agree, I like icons better than text. I'd prefer to see a brush than to read "brush". I think the eye can scan through icons more quickly than reading text. So, icons should make for a quicker workflow ... once the end-user knows what they mean.

As with any tool, the keyboard shortcuts can really make or break it. I know that I am zillions of times faster in Photoshop, MODO, etc., when I know the keyboard shortcuts. So, I can mostly avoid clicking icons for the majority of my work because I will be using keyboard short cuts.

One of the things I like in MODO (and I have seen it in other software, too) is the Properties Panel. It's a dock-able panel that changes based on the tool that's selected. So, if I click the icon to create a cube, the Properties Panel shows me all the properties that can be set for creating a cube (x, y, z dimensions, number of divisions per side, etc.). If I activate the Bevel Tool, then bevel properties are displayed there. This eliminates the need to have many pop-up windows, etc. The majority of what you need quick access to is right there in the Properties Panel.

Another thing I like about MODO is the ability to PIN floating pop-up panels. Let's say that a certain action in MODO summons a pop-up panel providing detailed options. Once I click outside of that window (i.e. in the view port or on another panel) that pop-up panel disappears until I summon it again. However, if I like it and find that I need to access it frequently do to my particular workflow, I can PIN it by clicking a little on/off circle at one of the corners. When pinned, the pop-up window does not ever disappear (until un-pinned). The end-user can also grab and move it around if they want to, moving it out of the way. This allows for the end-user to further customize how they work in MODO based on their particular workflow.

One developer created a pretty cool UI replacement (well, more of an augmentation) for MODO called ZEN. You can see it here:

http://www.mechanicalcolor.com/modo-kits/zen

Zen does many things, but one thing that it does is provide icons that are shortcuts to altering the UI a bit. For example, if you want to access MODO's quick render window and workflow, there is an icon that slides that open on the right-side. Another click hides it. You want access to the UV window and all its tools? There's an icon that does that, too. So, instead of switching layouts from Model, to Render, to UV, to Animate, etc., you can use the ZEN icons to open the parts of MODO you need at the moment, dismissing them when you don't need them. It's quite brilliant, actually.

One of the best parts of ZEN is the developer created a single shortcut (it's the V key) that opens a pop-up. This pop changes based on what you were doing when you summoned it. For example, if I am in EDGE mode, then pressing V brings up all my edge tools (and a slew of other tools that may be useful). If I am in polygonal mode, then pressing V brings up all my polygonal tools, etc. This means I have basically have ONE shortcut to memorize for MOST of what I want to do. The developer did an excellent job of thinking this through and implementing it.

What ZEN allows you to do is work almost completely in a full-screen viewport .... or not. It's up to the end-user. If you want to hide the layers, then you hide them. You want to see them, you show them and anything else you want to have present while working. This not only makes it great for each person's particular workflow, but it's makes for a customize-able UI for various screen sizes, too. If I have a large screen, I might like several tool panels open. If not? Then I might want to keep them hidden, bringing them into view when needed.

I hope this helps.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:28 pm

Great tip, thanks. It feels like magic watching it in action. And interacting with a changing UI becomes a natural part of the workflow, rather than something to be avoided at all costs.

It's nice the way it can merge into a more traditional setup if you pin/dock the panels - but I suspect that once you get used to the wide open viewport you want to use the full Zen most of the time.

It sounds terrible - but I am actively fighting against the current UI both as a user and a developer. It is tricky to get through the menus, and there is no room left to add to the current panel design. I think there is a lot of potential here - and between the apps you have shown me already there are several gamechanging features. Got to soak it all in :)

I imagine just turning the menus into a tabbed toolbox based on selection (which you can pin) would be a huge help - reducing the search and click time for repeated commands hugely. And perhaps also aiding exploration and learning.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Funken » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:33 pm

In-line editing of text fields

Image

Little change, but great benefit. Being able to edit text in, well, text fields means better access to the interface and makes it possible to enter exact or round values quickly without fiddling with the sliders.

Drag to edit text fields

Image

Another alternative to interact with the different values is to get rid of the slider given and implement a "hidden" slider in the description of a text field. Text boxes that can be controlled that way posses an underlined description. Advantage: you can save a lot of screen space. Disadvantage: A "hidden" slider means of worse UX in certain situations (e. g. users not familiar with CG software).
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:58 pm

Sliders... Gimp has a powerful slider. It is pretty compact, and dragging the top (large change) gives a different range to the bottom (small tweaks). And as soon as you've used it you also can type in to change (without any further selection)
Even so... I find it confusing to use - i guess I need practice!

Image

The overall idea for 4.0 is to have more + more powerful UI... but mostly hidden away until you need it. And where possible any given control should be scalable to a mini format, up to a maxi full featured form - to help scalable panels.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:21 am

Further on sliders... they are often a bit tricky to get right even with a mouse. I imagine they are worse with a stylus/finger. But then in that case you wouldn't want to be typing in either.

I'm thinking some kind of popup that appears as you drag giving you clear feedback about the current value (far enough away from the control so you can see it past a finger). Luckily most sliders have an immediate visual effect in the 3D view.

In any case how do you prefer to select values?

Looking at Photoshop I struggled to find any sliders! It was all text boxes. And (instead of an underline) they have a little up/down arrow at the end of box to show you can interact with the number - looks like a tiny drag control. I think I could use somethign like this where x drag changes a large amount, and y drag tweaks the current value, giving you gross and subtle control once you get use to it.

Also with text boxes - I'll finally need to commit to a units system (just for UI purposes). I was thinking perhaps that the default Grid is 4000x4000 px wide - and everything else follows from that. So a 10px Sculpt Brush will mean something consistant, and likewise a 20px max edge length mesh reduction will be meaningful. If you roughly match your scene to the grid you will know how fine details you need for a given output image. (This is 1000x larger than the import/export size but means you will mostly be working in whole numbers rather than decimals).
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Dan Silverman » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:56 pm

Looking at Photoshop I struggled to find any sliders!


Photoshop has sliders all over the place. Brush size, brush opacity, brush hardness, layer opacity, etc., all have sliders. If you go into things like setting blur, sharpness, etc., there are sliders. It's just that the sliders are hidden. Next to each text box is a down-arrow. If you click that, then you gain access to a slider that adjusts the function (brush size, for example).

Further on sliders... they are often a bit tricky to get right even with a mouse. I imagine they are worse with a stylus/finger. But then in that case you wouldn't want to be typing in either.


Hmmm ... they are not so tricky to use with a mouse and, in many situations, you don't need to be exact. There is not a lot of difference between 50% opacity and 49% or 51%. ;) Also, people using the stylus or finger on a touch device do type using the on-screen keyboard that can be made to pop-up when a text box is activated.

Photoshop adds something else to these text fields. As an example, when you have a brush selected, you can either use the text field or slider to change the brush opacity. Or you could simply hit a single number, without even having the text field activated, and the opacity is adjusted. For example, with a brush active, typing a "3" would instantly make the opacity 30%.
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Re: Suggestions for Curvy 4

Postby Simon » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:53 pm

I think most the time I just need a handle to drag and will watch the effect elsewhere, and don't really need to see a slider bar. But I guess for snap choices it is good to be able to click on a slider without dragging to set something quickly.

I do like the idea that you can either drag on a number or just click it and start typing a new value - without any need for a separate popup!

Once I get the new UI working I'll be able to swap in different styles of controls and see how they feel in practice. It will certainly be a big space saver to have icons and numbers instead of words and sliders for frequently used options. And rare options can spread with clear icon+name+number+slider in more generous panels that only appear as needed.
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