I’ve been working hard to get this ready for release, and I am thrilled to announce, my YoVille drawing program, AutoDraw, is available for download!
Here it is in action:
As I have said before, the process of putting an image onto a whiteboard has two distinct parts: First, to transform an image into a set of pen strokes, and second, to apply those pen strokes to a whiteboard. The first part requires mathematical image processing, and the second part requires programming the mouse to move and click.
The way the system is organized, the website lightningjamie.com does the first part, transforming the image into pen strokes, while the AutoDraw executable does the second part, clicking and moving. AutoDraw simply downloads the pen strokes from lightningjamie.com and moves the mouse as instructed.
For the user, it means that you can get a simulated preview of what it will look like after it’s been drawn.
The “tethered” architecture also means that there is a much smaller chance of the program being hacked, and illicit porn factories appearing and ruining it for everyone.
Zynga could probably shut this down pretty easily if they wanted, but I am guessing they won’t, because this automation is benign, and I might even say beneficial to their business. But if it’s used to scam a lot of people, or if it’s used for porn, then it may attract Zynga’s attention and that will be the end of it.
My hope is that the system I’ve built can reduce scams, because people can inexpensively make whiteboards for themselves, instead of taking a gamble with a dealer. That’s part of the reason for expiring keys. If keys can be used to make infinitely many copies of an image, then they are too valuable, and only the serious art dealers will want them. An expiring key can be priced much lower.
So what are you waiting for? Go download it and try it out!
As I mentioned in the About Me section, I have some programs for creating whiteboard artwork. The types of whiteboard work I do falls into two categories: it is either created from pen strokes traced manually (text is almost always this type), or it is created directly from an image.
Whiteboards from Manual Traces
When the desired output is only lines and not a full image, I will usually opt to use the tracing method. For this I will start in Photoshop and manually trace the lines I wish to have drawn on the whiteboard. For text, I’ll type and position the message using the Text tool, and then trace over the letters with the shape layer. The text acts as my template, and only the lines I trace manually will appear in the final output. This is the time consuming part.
Then from Photoshop I export the shape layer in Adobe Illustrator format. I then have a program which converts the poly-lines from Adobe Illustrator format into whiteboard pen strokes. In the process, it also makes “double” lines, using a second line in the background color to make the lines appear thinner.
Then, in the final step, a second program loads the pen strokes and automatically moves and clicks the mouse, quickly tracing the lines onto the whiteboard. Since the pen strokes are stored, it is easy to recreate any signs I’ve already made, which is convenient when I want to change a sign temporarily.
Whiteboards from Images
Creating a whiteboard copy of an image requires three steps. First, I have to manually adjust the image into a certain format that is the right size uses only those colors that can be drawn on the whiteboard. The whiteboards have only 8 pen colors. For cartoonish images this is less of an issue, but when the original image is a photo, it can be difficult to represent the image with the pen colors available.
While manually editing the image, I will usually remove some of the fine detail, if it will not translate well into the final image, or if it will detract from the finished product. Excessive detail can not only spoil the look of the final image, but more pen strokes create more lag.
Depending on the complexity of the original image, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, or sometimes more. This first step is the most time consuming.
Once the image has been put in the right format, the second step is to process it with a program of mine. This program takes the image as input and creates a long list of pen strokes as output. These pen strokes are saved to a text file.
The third and final step is to take the pen strokes and apply them to the whiteboard. This is done using a second program that reads the text file and automatically moves and clicks the mouse. For some images this can take quite a while. Some of the most detailed images have as many as 6000 pen strokes.
This example here has about 2300 pen strokes:
That’s it for now!
In the future I’ll be posting some examples from my portfolio. I’ve made quite a lot of pictures over my YoVille career!