My dream art program

Photoshop has gotten unwieldy, slow, and unstable. It has a lot of features I’ve grown to rely on but sometimes I feel like they just get in the way.

After playing with Strike I’ve come to realize that my relationship with art programs has gotten pretty dysfunctional.

So here’s a list of things that I’d love to see in a drawing program.

  • Pressure sensitivity
  • Layers, ideally with blend modes and layer opacity
  • Text layers:
    • The ability to edit and move the text around as live objects (without having to switch tools)
    • Multi-line text with alignment (left/right/center/justified) controls
    • Multi-font/style/color support within a single object
    • Outlines as part of the font/style/color1
  • Quick selection tools (lasso, polygonal lasso, magic wand) and operations to perform on them:
    • Move/copy
    • Transform
    • Fill
  • Save flattened copy (what Photoshop calls “Save for Web”)
  • Brush shapes (circle, square, triangle, arbitrary bitmap, etc.)

Things that are nice to have but not vital:

  • Layer masks (and nested layer groups)
  • Shape layers/masks (which can do a stroke and/or fill)
  • Complex brush dynamics:
    • Dynamic attributes (flow, opacity, color, rotation, offset, etc.) controlled by pressure/tilt/rotation/jitter
    • Random shape selection
  • Advanced text layout:
    • Baseline adjustment
    • Kerning/tracking adjustment
    • Ligature selection
    • Wrap-to-shape
    • Path following
  • Pattern brushes (particularly with halftone and dither support)2

Things that I’m finding really don’t matter, and if anything cause more problems than they solve:

  • Antialiased tools (better to just work at a higher resolution and let downsampling take care of it)
  • Storyboard/panel/page layout support

Now I have all these ideas in my head for yet another project I have no time or energy for. Sigh.

  1. Incidentally, Photoshop doesn’t have this. 

  2. This might actually work even better done as a blend mode, like providing a halftone/dither/whatever pattern that gets applied based on the layer’s opacity/color or something, maybe. That would allow for much easier auditioning of different patterns, at least. 


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