I now officially have an unsavory love for my new Macintosh, as I discovered in the process of trying to create the following screencast of the early beta FaceMaker applet. When I tried to do this on my PC, it took a good day or so of downloading and reading and tinkering, and I never did end up with a decent movie. With the Mac, it took about half an hour, start to finish.
The end result is this clip, showing how the FaceMaker is coming along:
Note what a difference being able to change the line color makes. The beard and mustache look tremendously better with a darker version of the fill color as the outline. Even at this early stage, with just the jaws, noses, eyes, and upper head portions completed, the variety you can get has astounded me. A big part of that is the ability to move and scale items.
You can see that at work in the glasses. The base item is an old-fashioned pair of round glasses, but you can squish and stretch them to look like narrow ovals, a completely different appearance than what I started with. With the current HeroMachine, you're pretty much stuck with whatever items in whatever position I happened to draw them, but with this applet you can make the eyes bigger, or lower down on the head, or narrow the nose down to be thinner, on and on.
This is a giant step forward in my goal to make applications that enable people with vivid imaginations, but without drawing skills to match, to step into the role of artist. Being able to rearrange the items on the face lets you really take charge of the illustration process with a much greater degree of flexibility.
I still have to populate the rest of the item slots, at which point I'll probably post a beta version for everyone to play around with. I fully expect a host of great change requests to come out of that. Usually the user community has suggested the best features, which is certainly the case already with the line color feature, something I frankly thought was a bit silly. Once again, I was wrong!
While I'm working on item drawing, I'll also be pursuing the "Save as JPG" feature. I've got some code I downloaded from a Flash site that looks perfect, but I need to test it out now that I have the latest Flash version.
I think you all will be pleased with the Face Maker once it's done, it has the potential to be a very fun, hopefully useful tool.