Gut reactions

Quick play around with the Prisma app on the ipad , that I discussed from a high-faluting angle last night. Here’s the “Heisenberg” filter, with me pulling my “handsome” faces. (I’m hot-desking, the poster of Muhammed Ali in the background’s not mine.)

Interesting effect on 4 and 6, almost artistic in a way.

My biggest disappointment is that the preset list of filters is all you’ve got – plenty of them, some quite interesting, but I’d really like to add my own textures and see what happens. I’m intrigued as to what does and doesn’t work out of the box – why does Hokusai usually produce (subjectively) better results than van Gogh?

At one level, that’s just a grumpy user gripe. I’ve downloaded a free app from the interwebs, and I’m bitching about extra features it hasn’t got yet. And really, I’m very grateful to the god folk at Prisma for this new toy. Making software that works isa lot harder than blue-sky adding features in your mind’s eye.

At another level, I think it’s crucial as far as the adoption of this sort of tech goes, that the underlying system is open enough to experiment with. Real artists with their real brushes aren’t prevented by an API from drawing with the wrong end of the brush, or splashing ink on the page with a dropper, for example.

I’ve spoken in the past about this in relation to the Electricomics project – which, being open source, lets me hack away at changes to the core code and really experiment with the form, in ways that Sequential or Comixology Guided View, for example, can’t do (or, rather, can’t be controlled by the creator – Bryan Talbot’s “Metronome” on Sequential, for example, had a customised digital-nly view option.

If this sort of tool is going to have a serious impact on good, original comics, rather than just creating a new wave of mediocre, it’s essential that the innards are exposed, letting everyone innovate rather than just a handful of (probably overstretched) developers supporting the core product.

Prisma’s only a few weeks old in public. I’m sure that the configurability I’m craving will come along at some point. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy messing about with the presets.

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