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Mithferion

Back with the Mesh Warp / Distort Tool... Some considerations

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Hi there!

DISCLAIMER: First of all, this is not another "bring the Mesh Warp / Distort Tool right now!" Topic. I'm not asking the Team to give us an estimated time of arival... None of that. It's something different, hinted in the Title.

INTRODUCTION & INTENTIONS

The purpose of this Topic is to share my thoughts and considerations, specially with @MattP, the talent behind this and some other great Features, to keep in mind when developing this. Why? The reasons are simple:

  • Some of us are more than impatient to have this Feature available.
  • It's been on the Roadmap for so long...
  • Many need this and they are all in into Designer and lefting [Design Application] behind.

There are high hopes and so much anticipation. And it's in the Dev Team plans. That's all good, but... is the gap between the Dev Team idea and the users need really been closed, even narrowed? When realeased, will it be what a lot of people are expecting? That's the key point that might turn things ugly here in the Forums.

So, I want to open a relaxed discussion to talk about needs, capabilities and workflow. I will do so by diving the kins of distortions I know in 3:

TYPE ONE

Miscellanous Specific Forms Distortions:

  • Topic 1: Arc Warp. @TonyB confirmed it will be doable as some other transformations. Said feature works like this for texts (but also for shapes), in Illustrator 2019 and on other Apps like PSE 10:

image.thumb.png.b82774a3320b1522ef166e0b895abe8b.png

image.thumb.png.0534770c1cb4bc3b64fc43b659023263.png

The other transformations available are this ones. Available on both Apps but they don't work exactly in the same way:

image.png.e86a53188b6e78cf7a938240427a0ccd.png

 

Now, the thing about these transformations (and the other Types) are these ones: Control and configuration. They are done through a set of parameters, not through a Mesh like the one in Affinity Photo. so, it's not just that it's doable, but that it's repeatable and done with a degree of presicion. And of course, it has to be editable and resetable, or as it's called nowadays: live. For example, trying to do it through a Mesh is not that great (the red one is done by hand after a lot of struggle, and it's no good):

image.thumb.png.623bb18f6f8b92afe557f7d8cc9a8721.png

That's the Arc Warp but imagine this for all kind of options known to man.

TYPE TWO

The next thing is about Perspective, whis is another popular requested feature.

  • Topic 2. This is really clear as what it has to do. Not just of one object, but for an entire Group, to do a pseudo 3D thing.

On this one, DrawPlus does a good job and offers interesting options, like the slider on the Top part, and it gives the sens of working with a 3D object.

image.thumb.png.4e4d211a22ca1c18735c542b91fc37f9.png

The one in Illustrator does its part, but once you transform an object, you can't have the original back, so it's a destructive effect (making this a live feature would be awesome).

image.thumb.png.21a2021d8c811b0c7592e0a3bccb963e.png

If the angles of "rotation" can be in the form of parameters and mouse control, would make it cover all scenarios.

TYPE THREE

The last kind of Distortion people ask for in the forums is the Free Transform.

  • Topic 3. This is the one that sounds more like the one currently present for bitmaps in Photo or the Envelop Tool in DrawPlus. Personally, this is the least I am interested in, but it has its uses and would make this feature as robust as it can be.

image.thumb.png.67df1ee3534218bbb784e3ec35803025.png

image.thumb.png.061ffa34d246ae683a10f9e62d4b47e0.png

I see there are two variations to this feature:

  1. One with the handles, as seen on the previous pictures.
  2. One with "sharp" cornes, without the handles (it's almost like a Perspective Distortion, but I present it like a different one because with a perspective you should be able to maintain the aspect ratio, with this one you can go beyond that).

In Illustrator, the Free Distort Effect does this in the "sharp corner" fashion, turning it to semi-curves in some extreme distortions:

image.thumb.png.aa23d6e77544b215af630cc92bec35e9.png

As with the previous ones, the ability to reset and edit the effect on already distorted objects, would be gold.

SUMMARY

As I said, when talking about Distortions / Warping, most people have one or more of the three I showed. So, I leave some key points:

  • Having all of the three types listed above in Designer is the best thing that can happen in this regard to Serif and us the Users.
  • Also, having the ability to reset, edit and have parameters in some of the cases, would provide absolute control (and enjoyment).
  • If the Dev Team implements this one after the other and not all in the initial release, even if it's not desirable, is still a good path.
  • Limiting to one or two of the Three Types "by design" would hurt the product.
  • Very important: I'm not saying "copy this and copy that", I'm just showing examples of the possible use cases for a Tool like this; however it's implemented, as long as it's logical and feels natural, offering all of the capabilities presented, would be perfect.

So, citing Matt himself:

I want our products to be good in their own right: It’s not good enough to be better than ‘x’ or ‘y’, you should just be really good and that be the end of the sentence

I expect from you what you have set as your own goal: the best possible Affinity Designer.

Finally, I invite anyone who wants to contribute by bringing examples or something they want for this Feature that I missed.

Best regards!


You'll never know what you can do until you get it up as high as you can go!   

AMD FX 8350 :: Radeon HD 7870 :: Windows 10 ::  http://mithferion.deviantart.com/

Oxygen Icons :: Free Quality Fonts :: Public Domain Pictures :: iOS 11 Design Resources :: iOS App Icon Template :: Hot to do High Quality Art :: Mesh Warp / Distort Tool Considerations

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Also, being honest, I got worried for this because of something said in another thread, where @MEB commented:

  • This is already on Designer's roadmap (which covers all new features until version 2.0) so it will come with one of the next updates. I'm referring to mesh warp distortions not to something similar to Warp Effects in Illustrator just to be clear. There's no eta for any specific feature (it depends on the development goes) so i can't add much more details at this point.

And when I asked bout it, trying to understand what would be and what wouldn't be developed, he added:

  • I believe it will be similar to the mesh warp you already find in Affinity Photo but vector based - I mean, it will change the geometry of the original objects based on the mesh grid displacements you make - but I may be wrong here. I don't know much about it at this point to be of much help, sorry.

Anyway, I hope this is taken into account. And as I said, it's a message first for @MattP but it's also for everyone. I don't take anything for granted, so it's great to express our needs and share them openly here in the forums.

Best regards!


You'll never know what you can do until you get it up as high as you can go!   

AMD FX 8350 :: Radeon HD 7870 :: Windows 10 ::  http://mithferion.deviantart.com/

Oxygen Icons :: Free Quality Fonts :: Public Domain Pictures :: iOS 11 Design Resources :: iOS App Icon Template :: Hot to do High Quality Art :: Mesh Warp / Distort Tool Considerations

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Mithferion said:

Finally, I invite anyone who wants to contribute by bringing examples or something they want for this Feature that I missed.

Hi @Mithferion,

thank you for summing this up. For me the most important thing would be fine control about the transformation(s) including snapping if needed. It also would be good to have this non destructively (as you point out) and keeping the transformed objects editable. I think the existence of 'Isometric Mode' is a hint on what we can expect (or what is possible).

d.

PS: Saving and reusing transform settings (like 'Paste Style') would also be a great productivity feature.

Edited by dominik
Added PS.

Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 (beta 1.8.0.486)   |   Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 (beta 1.8.0.486)   |   Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 (beta 1.7.3.475)
Affinity Designer for iPad 1.7.0.7   |   Affinity Photo for iPad 1.6.8.77

Windows 10 (1809) 64-bit - Core i7 - 16GB - Intel HD Graphics 4600 & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
iPad pro 9.7" + Apple Pencil

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Hi!

8 hours ago, dominik said:

including snapping if needed

That would be great for the Mesh based transformations, indeed. Free transformations are nice, but sometimes one needs a level of constrains for consistency.

8 hours ago, dominik said:

Saving and reusing transform settings (like 'Paste Style') would also be a great productivity feature.

Another great suggestion. Even saving some Presets like the ones we have for the different shapes would be good.

Best regards!


You'll never know what you can do until you get it up as high as you can go!   

AMD FX 8350 :: Radeon HD 7870 :: Windows 10 ::  http://mithferion.deviantart.com/

Oxygen Icons :: Free Quality Fonts :: Public Domain Pictures :: iOS 11 Design Resources :: iOS App Icon Template :: Hot to do High Quality Art :: Mesh Warp / Distort Tool Considerations

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24 minutes ago, Mithferion said:

but sometimes one needs a level of constrains for consistency.

I want to add one more thing that come to mind as you write 'constrain'.

Holding down SHIFT key constrains to horizontal or vertical movement as we know from other tools.

d.


Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 (beta 1.8.0.486)   |   Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 (beta 1.8.0.486)   |   Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 (beta 1.7.3.475)
Affinity Designer for iPad 1.7.0.7   |   Affinity Photo for iPad 1.6.8.77

Windows 10 (1809) 64-bit - Core i7 - 16GB - Intel HD Graphics 4600 & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
iPad pro 9.7" + Apple Pencil

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TYPE FOUR

How could I forgot? Another kind of Distortion that some might find useful is to adapt text into some specific shape.

The idea is as follows: the ability to fit text into a shape, like this one (again, with editing capabilities):

image.thumb.png.17c693ad52ce3dc15e2a4e36892097b4.png

image.thumb.png.84ea6dcac6b9a9ab0c4605768a7b47d6.png

So, yeah, with this one added, I know it's A LOT to cover, but please, take it into consideration for your internal Roadmap.

Best regards!


You'll never know what you can do until you get it up as high as you can go!   

AMD FX 8350 :: Radeon HD 7870 :: Windows 10 ::  http://mithferion.deviantart.com/

Oxygen Icons :: Free Quality Fonts :: Public Domain Pictures :: iOS 11 Design Resources :: iOS App Icon Template :: Hot to do High Quality Art :: Mesh Warp / Distort Tool Considerations

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This is why I use Inkscape for basic perspective transformations, svg back and forth.

Also why not add a macro option for Designer something like the one in Photo. Record every step. Instead of rebuilding the logo because of a name change, simply change the name and apply the same macro, get the same look. Done.

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As in many features, the devil is in the details. And again: just because Illustrator dominates the market segment does not necessarily mean it is the program to emulate. Typically, Illustrator new features seem to be designed more for an initial "wow factor" when introduced, than thoroughly thought-out. Its first introduction of a warp tool was a case-in-point, which then cascaded down to other subsequently introduced distortion features. Those devilish details can make all the difference between just another "me, too" copycat feature and an elegantly more powerful implementation.

When Illustrator finally got around to having an enveloping tool, its primary historic rival, FreeHand already had one. There was a subtle difference: In FreeHand, the user had control over whether or not the envelope, when initially applied, already had its node curve handles extended.

This "tiny" interface detail made all the difference.

I dare say the simplest, most basic, and therefore most common use for a warp effect is to simply distort the rectangular envelope of a selection by independently moving its corners so as to make the content artwork fit a surface in the illustration that is viewed at an angle; like simply putting a graphic onto the side of a drawn box or monitor screen that isn't viewed "straight on."

That was a simple, straightforward, few clicks in FreeHand. It was a tedious nightmare in Illustrator. Why? For one simple reason: Illustrator's envelope insisted upon being created with its nodes' curve handles already pre-extended by the rule-of-thumb 1/3 length of the segments. In FreeHand, the user was provided control over that.

That was commensurate with a preceding interface superiority in FreeHand: Its provision of auto-retract and auto-extend options which did not appear in Illustrator until much later and which, as usual, still fall short of FreeHand's implementation due to other pre-established "underlying foundations" of the interface. Specifically, it was related to the fact that FreeHand "knew the difference" between paths' being selected at the object level as opposed to merely having all of its individual nodes selected. That engrained foundational inferiority plagues Illustrator to this day, being directly related to Illustrator's now almost universally mimicked interface convention of having two separate primary selection tools.

So thanks, Mithferion, for starting a forward-looking feature discussion thread, as opposed to the pandemic "I want this feature [ just like the only program I've ever used has] and I want it now!" demands. We need more of this. It's what could lead to more powerful innovation instead of just more same-old, same-old mediocrity (like—I hate to say—the frankly disappointing arrowheads feature).

JET

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On 6/30/2019 at 12:24 PM, arial_bold said:

Also why not add a macro option for Designer something like the one in Photo. Record every step. Instead of rebuilding the logo because of a name change, simply change the name and apply the same macro, get the same look. Done.

Maybe having the ability to save Presets would do the trick in such situations.

 

8 hours ago, JET_Affinity said:

Those devilish details can make all the difference between just another "me, too" copycat feature and an elegantly more powerful implementation.

Some of the reasons for me to use Affinity Designer is that some great decisions have been made in terms of workflows. It's lacking features, yes, but it has the potential and the time to have such neatly done implementations.

 

8 hours ago, JET_Affinity said:

So thanks, Mithferion, for starting a forward-looking feature discussion thread, as opposed to the pandemic "I want this feature [ just like the only program I've ever used has] and I want it now!" demands. We need more of this. It's what could lead to more powerful innovation instead of just more same-old, same-old mediocrity (like—I hate to say—the frankly disappointing arrowheads feature). 

Yes, the point to use some screenshots of the rival App is just to show desired results, with the intention of making things better, locical and natural, not in the old-fashioned way. Also, thanks to you. With your experience and knowledge you provide valuable inisghts to many of us novices.

I hope we can read some of the thoughts from the Dev-Team.

Best regards!


You'll never know what you can do until you get it up as high as you can go!   

AMD FX 8350 :: Radeon HD 7870 :: Windows 10 ::  http://mithferion.deviantart.com/

Oxygen Icons :: Free Quality Fonts :: Public Domain Pictures :: iOS 11 Design Resources :: iOS App Icon Template :: Hot to do High Quality Art :: Mesh Warp / Distort Tool Considerations

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