RealWorld Photos - a peek into the future

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RealWorld Photos - a peek into the future

Published by on August 30th 2007.

Things have been quiet since March, but the development has not stopped. We have been busy improving the raster image editor user interface control and building a brand new application focused on photo retouching. The improvements in image editing will of course make it into future versions of currently available products.

While the release of the upcoming photo editor is still a few months away, the base features and improvements are known and here is an overview of the more interesting ones:

Modern look and feel

The current raster editor looks a bit awkward and while it may be OK for icon or cursor editor, photographers are used to a more polished controls. The new raster editor window is able to display the image at arbitrary (non-integral) zoom, resampled with a gamma-aware algorithm for closest possible color reproduction.

Image opened in RW Photos, large tile grid visible

When working with transparent images, the semitransparent areas are mixed with chequered background.

When only a part of the image is selected, the selected part is displayed …uhm… normally, while the non-selected is dimmed. This allows you to better focus on the interesting (selected) part.

The editor can also display a grid, control lines and control handles - all of them being smooth and unobtrusive.

User can at any time (regardless what drawing tool is active) move the image by dragging it with his or her mouse wheel or the “X1″ (aka “Back”) mouse button. They can also zoom in and out by rotating the mouse wheel or dragging with the mouse wheel + CTRL key or with the mouse “X2″ button.

Sub-pixel accuracy

No, this is not just edge anti-aliasing (smooth mode).

Many drawing tools are now able to use floating point coordinates instead of integral ones. A circle may be be placed for example at coordinates [60.25, 100.5] an have a radius of 30.2 pixels.

Modify after drawing

A shape can be modified after it was added to the image. Once the initial click or drag occurs, the tool switches to “modify” mode and displays control handles that can be used to further finetune the shape. Only the last added shape can be modified in this way.
For example: a polygon starts as a triangle with 3 control handles at its vertices and 3 more handles (drawn with different color) at the edges. When user starts dragging this handle, the the edge is split into two and the triangle becomes a quad. On the contrary, when one of the vertex control handles is dragged and dropped over its neighbor, it is removed.

A Bézier curve with control handles and control polygon.

The sketch-and-fine tune principle is used with many drawing tools, including for example flood-fill or magic wand and makes the whole experience a bit more enjoyable.

Tablet pressure support

An expensive tablet is not really useful without a good brush tool in an image editor. Well, our new brush is not as flexible as the Adobe Photoshop one, but we are heading in the right direction.

Is that all?

No, not really, there is a thing or two (or is it three?) that will remain secret until next post.
But one thing is not a secret, RealWorld Photos might be freeware and a (I hope ;-)) lot of fun to work with.

For those wanting to participate…

If you wish to get your hand on the beta-version as soon as it is ready or if you cannot resist the desire to create a drawing tool plug-in of your own, send an email to or leave a comment here.

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