Inkscape(like) drawing interface possible?

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bartovan
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Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:25 pm

Hi, I'm an Inkscaper (for a few years now, see my stuff here: www.bartvanaudenhove.be) and as lots of vectorians I'm keeping a keen eye on vector animation software. The closest I have seen to something really interesting was Synfig, but I find it too awkward and too time consuming to actually use it (that's just my personal idea on it), and also the drawing tools are not my cup of tea (as I'm used to Inkscape which gives far more fine control, I feel).

So I was quite thrilled to see your post on the Inkscape forum and had a go at Vpaint right away.

It looks thrilling! Thumbs up for the overall animation concept! It actually makes my heart beat faster, there's definitely something there to be developed!

The one thing that's missing for me, is "true" vector drawing tools and a "true" vector drawing interface (I know it's under development, but you'll see what I mean). I for one very rarely use freehand drawing in Inkscape and almost exclusively use bézier curves together with fine control over vertices (moving, deleting, changing type from cusp to smooth etc, ...) and transformations and such. Of course also objects like circles, rectangles and such, but most often I will transform them to paths at some point. And also heavy use of filters, opacity and layers.

So freehand and sculpt mode are actually what would interest me the least in a vector drawing/animation program (it has to be there, for sketching and such, but it's more of a secondary tool for me).

I would so much love to see someone blend the Inkscape drawing interface with a powerful yet simple-to-use animation concept like Vpaint's, in one program. Seeing Synfig and now Vpaint I find it a bit surprising that apparently vector animation programmers seem to leave Inkscape completely out of the picture, while it is Open Source, very powerful, mature and very respected and widely used amongst vector artists AFAIK. But you have probably good technical reasons, it's not a critique, just an observation.
This great vector drawing tool (Inkscape) is just out there for the taking, isn't it an idea to use that as "front" (drawing interface), and build an animation section upon it based on Vpaints approach (which, as far as animation goes, looks great). Or, rephrased: can't you incorporate the Inkscape tools and drawing workflow into Vpaint and animate that? Man, that would be so great :)

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Boris
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Mon Aug 10, 2015 6:28 pm

Thx for your thoughts!

Truth be told: the reason I went with the hand-drawn approach was, quite frankly, because it was somewhat faster to develop than a (good and stable) bezier knot approach (and because my pen tablet was getting rusty ;-) ). It was also something kindda missing in other applications, so I thought it'd be neat to experiment with this idea in addition to the (more important) animation workflow ideas.

But yes, I love Inkscape, and I am planning to add Bezier curves à la Inkscape, they are the best approach in many case, and I miss them myself, sometimes. It's going to take some time to do though: supporting both types of curves in a unified interface requires careful design. Maybe it will be there in a year or so. I definitely would like them to be part of VPaint 2.0. Note that I cannot use existing code from Inkscape as it is under the GPL, and I definitely don't want VPaint to be under the GPL too.

Cheers!

bartovan
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Wed Aug 12, 2015 1:59 pm

So the idea is to make Vpaint commercial at some point? Or do I get that wrong (I'm not all that knowledgeable concerning licenses)?

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Boris
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Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:58 pm

Well, yes, I do want to keep the commercial road open, if this appears to be the best for users. I didn't have the time yet to write this in plain text in the README file to be transparent to contributors, but I will do it very soon, I definitely want transparency about that.

But *much more importantly*, I want other companies to be able to use the code of VPaint (Adobe, Autodesk, nVidia, animation studios, etc.), so that they can more easily implement the technology. The more standard the technology becomes, the better. Making it harder for them just because "they have money" is very childish. It doesn't serve the users at all, or help making great movies. For instance, most animation studios wouldn't take the risk to touch a GPL code, as, depending how it's done, it could legally bind them to make their proprietary in-house software available to the world under the GPL.

More notes concerning a commercial VPaint. As said, this is just one option. For instance, if I end up working full-time at Pixar, or stay in academia, I won't do a commercial VPaint. And in any case, something I will never do is completely dump the open source version of VPaint. If I do go the commercial way to have the resources to create a truly great 2d animation system, I would most likely rebrand VPaint as "Open VPaint", and have another version "VPaint Pro", which would mostly be a complete rewrite with some copy-pasting from Open VPaint here and there.

What's open stays open, that's the beauty of open source ;-)

bartovan
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Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:50 am

OK...
As I said, I don't know much about licensing, but aren't you exaggerating a bit there concerning the risk of using GPL, when you say
Boris wrote:it could legally bind them to make their proprietary in-house software available to the world under the GPL.
I don't question that animation studios behave this way, but this fear of being legally binded to make in-house proprietary software available once you touch something GPL seems, at least not always, founded?
I mean, AFAIK, anyone can use Inkscape for anything and do with the result whatever they please, no? I couldn't imagine a company being legally binded to make proprietary software available under GPL just because they made a logo in Inkscape and incorporated it in the rest of their work/creations?
And how many companies, big and commercial ones, don't run Linux or Linux based systems or parts of systems? Without being in the least affected or hampered by GPL concerns or problems?
Isn't all this fear of being obliged to go GPL with everything once you touched it somewhere, more like paranoia?

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scribblemaniac
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Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:13 am

It's not really an exaggeration at all. No commercial program would be able to use code from VPaint if it was under GPL.

To perhaps clear up some of your confusion with what GPL applies to, here is a quote from GPLv2:
Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program).
Essentially, GPL only applies to distributing a modified program. That means people can use what is produced with the programs however they wish. They can also modify and use the program without releasing the source if they don't distribute it. I'm not a lawyer and surely there are intricacies that I am missing, but I think that sums it up well enough.

bartovan
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Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:09 am

OK, I think I had some confusion there concerning "using GPL code" and "using a GPL program". I understand you can't just add some GPL code to a proprietary program. You can, however, use a GPL program in a commercial setting alongside proprietary programs.
Thanks for the information.

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Boris
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Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:27 am

bartovan wrote:You can, however, use a GPL program in a commercial setting alongside proprietary programs.
Yes, exactly :-)

yai
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Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:33 am

There are quite a few attempts at having Inkscape-like drawing with animation. But I found they are pretty well hidden on the internet. Here is a current attempt

https://code.launchpad.net/~yai-alpha/i ... /yai-alpha
https://github.com/yaii/pyink-lite

Here is a previous attempt

http://madbutterfly.sourceforge.net/

There are also others (but I can't find them at the moment).

For the current attempt, here are some quick demos and sample interfaces

http://gfycat.com/WillingWiltedFrog
http://gfycat.com/CarefulImpishDuck

This is for tacking animation onto Inkscape. To go the other way around, what's needed is a concise but precise description of Inkscape's interface. Even just the Select and Node tools (or Select, Node and Pen) with canvas scrolling. But right these features are scattered across the source.

As for VPaint, I can't wait to try it. From the videos, it seems to bring in quite a few interesting ideas! Some of which I'm not sure how it is possible. Guess I will have to look at the papers. Congratulations on those by the way!

I do not necessarily have my own mind made about licensing but wouldn't the difference only take effect if companies are distributing modified versions of VPaint? If they only use it, use a modified version or distribute an unmodified version (as a library), copyleft would have no effect. I would have thought having a mixed or not so clearly specified one ("primarily license X") would be more of a deterrent.

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Boris
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Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:15 am

Thanks for all these links, I'll have a look!

Code: Select all

I do not necessarily have my own mind made about licensing but wouldn't the difference only take effect if companies are distributing modified versions of VPaint? If they only use it, use a modified version or distribute an unmodified version (as a library), copyleft would have no effect.
The issue is not so much "distributing modified versions of VPaint", but more "distributing software containing at least one line from VPaint", in which case the GPL would also apply. Take Pixar, for instance, which I happen to know (DISCLAIMER: everything in this post are strictly my personal views on the subject, and by no means reflects the views of Pixar). They have their in-house animation system called Presto. In theory, since they don't distribute it externally (they only use it internally to create their movies), I -think- they are legally allowed to use GPL code within Presto without releasing Presto under the GPL. However, I'm not even sure of this, since "distributing" can be a blurry term (they do distribute it internally to their artists), and I think for this reason they wouldn't take the risk.

But more importantly, what if one day, they decide to sell Presto? Well, in that case, they would be screwed, since that would be "distribution" without any ambiguity. So using code under the GPL prevent them to have this option, so they wouldn't do it anyway.

Also, Pixar does sell software, in addition to creating movies: their industry-standard rendering engine RenderMan. So even though they don't sell Presto, they do sell RenderMan. So again, in this case, this means that if they want to use GPL code for Presto, they would have to be extra careful that Presto and RenderMan are completely separate in a way that the GPL doesn't apply, but they just wouldn't take the risk.

This was just for Pixar, but in practice, the same kind of reasoning apply to any studio that develops at least "some" code (e.g., a plugin for Maya), which is practically any studio. And of course, it applies even more to software companies than to studios.

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