The good, the bad and the nifty

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The good, the bad and the nifty

Published by on July 1st 2008.

No matter how serious an application is, it should always have at least one nifty feature. Something not terribly useful, but something that is just fun to use. The nifty features of RealWorld Photos are going to be the BUBBLE and STYLIZE meta-tools.

Add comic bubbles to photos

In concert with the TEXT tool, these two meta-tools allow anyone to add cool looking comic bubbles to a photo.

BUBBLE and STYLIZE tools used to draw fancy text.

The BUBBLE meta-tool adds the comic bubble shape around the typed text. Size of the bubble and its corner radius are determined automatically from the size of the text.

The STYLIZE meta-tool adds a shadow around the shape to visually separate it from the background and blurs the background below the shape to make the text easily legible. There is also a slight reflection effect, which you can see as brighter and darker stripes.

The whole procedure is very easy. End user just activates the tool and types the text, the system takes care of the rest.

How does it work internally?

A meta-tool uses other drawing tool(s) and modifies their behavior. The STYLIZE meta-tool can be used with other tools as well to create for example glassy looking rounded rectangles (STYLIZE_RECTANGLE). The BUBBLE tool works pretty much in the same way and you could put a polygon into a bubble if you wanted.

There are more meta-tools available, the most useful is probably the SELECT meta-tool, which can be used to make for example elliptical selections, or select with brush.

A meta-tool is an ordinary plug-in and third party developers may create meta-tools of their own to enrich the application.


Adding comic bubbles is fun and anyone can learn to do it in a few seconds. While it not a critical feature it complements nicely the powerful scripting capabilities, flexible batch mode, and lossless .jpg re-saving.

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