Design, Development, Interaction

Monday, February 28, 2011

Livebrush 1.5

It's been 6 months since the last Livebrush update. But I'm happy to announce that Livebrush 1.5 was released last week.

In preparation for features to come, there has been a lot of work done under-the-hood. But on the surface, I finally added the much-requested canvas zoom feature - something I admit should have been there since the beginning. It was always there, it just didn't work across-the-board. But a few nudges in the right direction yielded great success!

Pro-users got a little extra with the addition of custom canvas sizes and the ability to omit the paper texture layer. But that, too, should have been there from the beginning.

That said, I can't thank the community enough for their continued support and feedback. And as always, don't hesitate to let me know what you think on Facebook, Twitter or on the Livebrush forums.

Check for updates within the Livebrush. Or grab it fresh at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Speaking at FITC 2011

I'm thrilled to be speaking at FITC 2011. I had a blast speaking last year, but this year promises to be even bigger. It's their 10th anniversary, so inspiration is sure to be bursting out of your eye-holes.

I'm just small potatoes compared to the likes of:
Kyle Cooper • Flight404 • GMUNK • Theo Watson • Andre Michelle • MK12 • RIM • Lee Brimelow • Veronique Brossier • Julian Dolce • BLITZ • Grupow • Wesley Grubbs • Jam3media • Branden hall • Unity3D • Fuel Industries • Big Spaceship • The Secret Location • Colin Moock • Matt Rix • Bitchwhocodes • Robert Reinhardt • Grant Skinner • James White • Plus over 50 more. See all

After all that, I'd love to see you at my presentation,
Coloring Outside The Lines - Creating Apps, Art, & Profit
App stores and emerging distribution platforms have ushered in countless practical and entertaining apps. While innovation is in abundance, expressive apps seem largely under-represented. This presentation is about creative tools: why there should be more, and what you can do about it. 
Two years ago, David created his first commercial app, Livebrush. Over half a million downloads later, he is still surprised at the response. But what’s next? And is there a market for similar tools? Topics will follow his journey from tinkering to profit and why creating toys can be more fun than playing with them.

They're still offering Early Bird discounts (ends March 18th): The first 50 people to use this code save $50 off the already low EARLY BIRD prices. Which means you can score a festival ticket for only $549 CDN, or a student ticket for $129! So order here and use this discount code for $50 off any ticket!

Visit: and use the code, weareten

Monday, July 19, 2010

FITC 2010: First-Time Speaker, Long-Time Attendee

Flash was only the beginning.

Today, if there’s one thing FITC is known for, it’s inspiration. In less than a decade since its first incarnation as a Toronto-based festival celebrating Flash, FITC has spread around the world and broadened its scope. Now, there’s something for everyone: writers, designers, developers, or creative explorers. It’s that spark of inspiration that unifies the speakers and attendees. I’d like to think it’s that same spark that inspired the entrepreneurs to create Flash (FutureSplash Animator, at the time), and possibly the same spark that inspired the first flock of flashy individuals to come together and create this event.

As if the speakers, networking and parties weren’t enough to bring people together, each year the event is centered on a theme. This year’s “Playground” theme was most evident in the speaker introductions. Each introduction was pre-recorded (and edited) by event creator, Shawn Pucknell’s young daughters. And while it would have been funny, I’m glad they didn’t do this introduction for the “Cool Shit Hour”. Alternatively, they could have just called it the “Cool Stuff Hour”. But that doesn’t seem to have the same impact.

The “Cool Shit” presenters included myself, Chris Allen (, Didier Brun (@didierbyte), Joa Ebert (@joa), & Mikko Haapoja (@MikkoH). And in spite of some technical difficulties, great work was shown. Didier got the whole room singing “Hey Jude” with his great audio analysis prototypes, Joa live-coded a music visualizer with his notorious keyless keyboard. Mikko showed his devotion to creative development with a 3D painting app created using the Voxel Engine/Fancy Engine. And Chris demoed an awesome Star Wars Trench Run game for the iPhone.

Throughout the conference, I was pleasantly surprised at the professionalism of everyone regarding Apple’s frustrating decision to control how we create content. It certainly cast a shadow over the Adobe/Flash community. But there was so much more to be excited about. For example, Lee Brimelow showcased the fully-implemented multi-touch capabilities in Flash, and then Richard Galvan & Mark Anders reminded us that almost every other mobile platform supports Flash (and ultimately allows developers to develop for multiple platforms). And personally, this is where the argument for Adobe/Flash stands strong to me. Developing for multiple platforms doesn’t inherently make for lesser applications. It just means developers have to make additional considerations. If an app is developed to “Apple standards” (on any arguable level), they shouldn’t be controlling how the app is developed.

Being a first-time FITC presenter, I only discovered the speaker room on the last day. But I’m sure this debate didn’t occupy the casual lunch conversations between speakers. On the contrary, I echoed Mr. Rick Mason’s (@egnaro) sentiments regarding how exciting it was to see so many familiar faces in Eskil Steenberg’s (@quelsolaar) presentation on The Future of Creative Tools. Having a particular interest in this topic, I was excited with the format.

Eskil began speaking about his multiplayer indie-game, “Love” ( The concept behind “Love” is that, instead of leveling-up your character with various interactions, you level-up the world around you (in a sense). But what was most impressive was that he developed the entire toolset needed to create the game. He demoed a modeler, a uv-mapper, an animation tool, and a few other works-in-progress, all of which were networked together for a practical collaborative workflow. By Eskil’s own account, he loves designing interfaces. And the work he showed demonstrated this passion for pushing the boundaries and dispelled dated metaphors for how we use creative tools.

I was also happy to have had the opportunity to congratulate Brendan Dawes (@Brendandawes) on another great talk. His presentation, The Grammar of Interaction Design was a gem where he showed examples of how magic and silence can elevate interaction to create great experiences. From westerns to websites, this man knows how to present ideas.

At the Source + Imagination panel, Brendan shared the stage with panelists Grzegorz Kozakiewicz, Tali Krakowsky, Craig Swann, and Eric Socolofsky. I missed this presentation, but had the pleasure of chatting with Eric Socolofsky ( about the value of unnecessary interactions in creating meaningful connections between users; a topic that inspired some of the earliest concepts behind my part of the Cool Shit Hour.

I spoke about a motion-based drawing tool I developed called Livebrush ( In addition to the demo, I showed a prototype that adds physics-based drawing to the tool. The audience response was great and I couldn’t have thanked Jamie Kosoy (@jkosoy), Sam Agesilas (@samuelagesilas) & Steven Sacks (@stevensacks) more for their words of encouragement. Then Sam & Steven politely reminded me of the awesomeness of FDT 3 and scolded me for using Flash to build an app of Livebrush’s size. At a personal demo, Dave Gomes (@davegomes from Disney’s Club Penguin) even out shined me using Livebrush!

At the end of it all, the parties and venue made it very easy to share Livebrush and meet up with local and digital friends. I have to give Kudos to illustrators Cassie McDaniel (@cassiemc) & Michelle Runowski (@meeshemellow) for sharing the coolest cards on the Playground. I also enjoyed meeting the “Almer” half of digital shop, Almer/Blank over Tapas, as a quiet end to busy day. And if there’s one thing all of this and the FITC team has given me over the years, it’s confirmation that I’m not alone in my constant pursuit of new ideas and new ways to share them.

Here’s to being inspired @FITC 2010.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Multi-touch Drawing & Flickr Photo Viewer in Flash

I attended Lee Brimelow's multitouch demo at FITC Toronto this year. It was a great demo showing the multi-touch capabilities and testing features in Flash CS5. But the tip I was most excited about was a commercially available capacitive display for true multi-touch from 3M. It's a little pricey, but a worthy investment if you're an interactive designer or developer.

This video demo's some of the tests I've been doing to ramp-up multi-touch in Livebrush. There's a simple drawing demo that uses velocity and friction and a Flickr photo viewer. You can grab the source files below the video.

Source Files
The draw demo doesn't use any libraries. But the Flickr viewer uses Adobe's CoreLib, Flickr API, and CasaLib. I've included text files where you need to add these code libraries. 
To be clear, the multiple gesture issue noted in this video isn't really a problem. It's a limitation of windows. But if you ignore the built in gestures completely, you can detect and respond to the same gestures with custom code for better results. Checkout TheFlashBlog for another demo using a custom api written by Tim Kukulski.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Introducing The Blogroll Part 2

Like David Carson, Mr. Curtis shaped me in ways I couldn't realize until many years later. What hooked me was his innovative use of video at the time. It was all I needed to solidify my interest in interaction design. Check out his book, Making The Invisible Visible (MTIV) for a candid discussions on new media and design.

Joshua Davis was one of the first to explore generative processes in Flash by combining his harmonious illustrations with code. For me, I think Joshua represents that moment when everyone realized it was okay to make code do crazy things - without any other purpose but to make beautiful art.

I met Joe almost two years ago. I was in the midst of a particularly sticky phase of building Livebrush, and I really didn't want to leave my computer. But a little voice insisted I checkout his talk at FITC. What conspired in this session may very well be what kept me going and brought Livebrush to launch. Joe is the genius behind Moccasin and Noteflight.

Another newcomer. I identify with Drew in his vision of the future of creative tools. His development work is motivated by his artistic endeavors and, fortunately for us all, yields some pretty amazing mashups between creative tools.

Ryan is a Platform Evangelist for Adobe. I was following Ryan for some time before I decided to contact him about Livebrush. Beyond the great information on his blog, Ryan shares a lot of insight and doesn't hold back. I find his attitude refreshing and I'm thankful for his advice and feedback.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Get Tablet Pressure & Gestures into Flash via Bamboo Dock

Multi-touch, gestures and pressure are becoming the standard input mechanism for the average user and creatives alike. But for creative tools, pen pressure is often more of a necessity. And as far as I know, Wacom tablets are the only device capable of providing this data. So to get the ball rolling, I worked with Wacom to add pressure support to Livebrush. (Actually, they were invaluable. I couldn't have done it without their support.)

The most exciting part of including pressure is how it can be combined with velocity. You can have the precision of pressure while drawing, and then simply release the brush to have it use your gesture to elegantly complete the line. Here's a quick video demo.All the details, code and sample files are below.

Using Wacom tablets, pressure and gesture events are passed into Flash via their Bamboo Dock (download & install). Then, using their extensions you can test your apps within your Flash/Flash Builder workflow. Once installed, the Bamboo Dock automatically launches when you're testing SWF's within Flash or running/testing AIR applications. So, if you haven't already, download the Bamboo Dock and extension.

This example shows how to initialize the tablet connection and register for events. The interface traces the events on screen. Download

This example uses the same gesture events from the previous example to manipulate an image. Download

Tablet class
I've simplified the tablet connection with a custom class. It abstracts as much of the tablet implementation as possible. It's also the same class I use in Livebrush (so it may be a little rough around the edges). Simply call Tablet.init(this) to initialize the tablet connection and associate it to the main stage. Then listen for TabletEvent's and TabletGestureEvent's on any display object. You could also create your own implementation using the classes provided by Wacom.

Play with pressure
Click here to download Livebrush with pressure. Or if you already have the Bamboo Dock installed, you can install Livebrush as a Mini!

Additional Links

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

FlashInTO Presentation

On November 25th, 2009 FlashInTO invited me do a little presentation on Livebrush. These are the slides from that presentation. Sorry they took so long to post :)

Frameworks & Libraries
Adobe Core Lib
HYPE Framework