Mischief 2.0 price reduced to $25; feature-limited free version also released

'Lightning' by Mischief artist Szynka2496

'Lightning' by Mischief artist Szynka2496

'Archer' by drawingFORCE author and instructor Michael Mattesi

'Archer' by drawingFORCE author and instructor Michael Mattesi

High-end graphics software developer The Foundry yesterday surprised industry observers with the announcement of the acquisition of the tiny hobbyist software startup Made With Mischief. The latter's Mischief paint and sketch software was introduced last year.

Along with the acquisition, the companies announced the immediate release of Version 2.0 of the software with new UI, additional brushes and --most significantly for Surface Pro and Windows tablet users-- multitouch gesture support with palm rejection. The retail price of Mischief 2.0 was also cut dramatically to $25 and a free feature-limited version is available to download. The software runs on Windows and OS X and is also available through the Mac App Store.

I tested the paid version on the Surface Pro 2 and 3. In previous incarnations, Mischief required a Wintab driver for pen pressure. But on the SP3, I actually had to remove the N-Trig Wintab driver in order for the paid software to work properly. With the driver installed, many of my pen strokes exhibited an odd glitch: a small spike that would appear randomly, usually at the beginning of a stroke. Uninstalling the driver took care of the issue.

This screenshot taken from the Surface Pro 2 displays the stroke glitches I've encountered.

This screenshot taken from the Surface Pro 2 displays the stroke glitches I've encountered.

I'd ordinarily chalk the problem up to N-Trig, but my Surface Pro 2 has the same issue (see above). I haven't tried removing the Wacom pen driver because it's more critical to the calibration and pen settings on the SP2.

Several Twitter followers have corroborated the issue, while others have claimed they're not seeing the problem. It could of course be a conflict with other software or one of the many utilities I have installed to test over time. Made with Mischief is looking into the problem.

Performance is also somewhat erratic on the SP3. Multitouch gestures sometimes stop working or are difficult to trigger. It's also easy to lose sight of your work if you zoom in or out too far. If this happens to you, select Edit/View All Strokes to frame up your work.

Besides these early performance issues, Mischief 2.0 is simply a lot of fun to use. I can't wait until the developers introduce flipbook capability so that you can animate the pans, tilts and zooms. There is a sample file available for separate download called Sleepy Story that is absolutely breathtaking.

Although Mischief has a very limited core feature set at the moment, it features a revolutionary technology that enables an almost infinite canvas. "Our infinite zoom is 50 trillion:1!" crowed the @GetMischief Twitter feed."It's like sitting on the moon and zooming down to the wing of a bug (on Earth)!"

The Foundry's blog announcement went into further detail on the technology powering Mischief's zooming capability:

Mischief is powered by a revolutionary patented shape representation, known as Adaptively Sampled Distance Fields (ADFs), co-invented by (company founder Sarah) Frisken. ADFs have several advantages for creative applications: they provide high-quality stroke rendering; they are amenable to hardware-based rendering so drawing is extremely responsive; they are very compact, resulting in small file sizes; they can be scaled without introducing pixelation artifacts; and they can accurately represent much richer and more complex shapes than traditional vector-based stroke representations. For Frisken, the acquisition of Made With Mischief by The Foundry enables her to retain her core vision of providing high-quality software tools for a wide range of artists and to preserve an accessible price point, while bringing future versions of the platform to an even broader audience.
“The Foundry has a proven record of taking exciting, innovative concepts and commercializing them for a broader market,” said Sarah Frisken. “By becoming a part of The Foundry, we now have the ability to grow our team, to be more responsive to our users, and to further our vision... With our talent and technology, we will create new and exciting products that in turn create new possibilities and experiences for our customers.”  

The entire announcement video is available to view here.

Although Mischief is an exciting application, its user base is tiny: about 4,000, according to one source I read yesterday. The Foundry specializes in high end applications like Nuke, which begins at £2,534 per seat. Its Mari paint software is a mere £1,221 plus an annual license. Why would they want to sell a $25 program to hobbyists?

FXGuide yesterday published a deep look at the ADF technology that The Foundry is acquiring alongside Made with Mischief and it's definitely worth a look. "The software that is the backbone of Mischief right now is absolutely able to do 3D," Frisken told the site. "All that is exposed right now is 2D but the underlying engine could do 3D. We have imagined sketching in 3D or sketching on a 2D canvas at any orientation or rotation to the camera.”

The article also features a demonstration video of a test ADF sculpting application written by Tomas Pettersson, of Sculptris for The Foundry's Luxology Modo team. If you're into 3d sculpting, it's definitely worth a look.

To purchase Mischief 2.0 or download the free version, go to MadewithMischief.com Registered owners of version 1.x can upgrade to 2.0 for free.

 

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AuthorRick Rodriguez
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UPDATE: Surface Pro 3's right pen button now calls up the radial menu correctly. See below.

* * * *

ORIGINAL POST

One of the more popular recent additions to Wacom's Feeldriver is the radial menu, a handy set of shortcuts that can be called up with the click of a pen button.

The default RadialMenu offers eight commonly used functions that will apply to most applications. Each wedge is customizable and a profile can be created on an application-specific basis.

The default RadialMenu offers eight commonly used functions that will apply to most applications. Each wedge is customizable and a profile can be created on an application-specific basis.

The radial menu had only been available on Wacom's professional devices until May of this year and its surprise appearance in the enhanced tablet pc driver was another competitive advantage the company had over N-Trig equipped devices like the Surface Pro 3.

We were hoping an SP3 pen menu would be part of Microsoft's recently released Surface Hub, but alas it didn't make the cut and a company spokesman was noncommittal  about it ever appearing. Some within the Surface team have told me they worry that an OS-level radial menu may conflict with context menus and/or software-specific marking menus like those found in Autodesk Maya.

Whether those concerns are valid or not, there's now a powerful utility that brings a highly-customizable radial menu to all devices and throws in a toolbar/ArtDock creator as well.

RadialMenu is the brainchild of independent software/game developer Clint Huegel, who wrote the utility for his Motion Computing LE1700. Fortunately for us, the program appears to work with a wide variety of hardware and software combinations.

"RadialMenu is a small project I started to alleviate aggravations I encountered while using my TabletPC," Huegel writes on his website. "The goal was to emulate the radial menu that Wacom distributes with some of their products but with per application menus. Since that goal was met a Toolbar was added as well." 

The RadialMenu application also includes a toolbar that can be easily customized.

The RadialMenu application also includes a toolbar that can be easily customized.

In this view, the toolbar is collapsed with the center (Up arrow) icon. The arrows on the right allow you to move the toolbar around the screen. Tapping on the pie icon switches to the radial menu. Right-clicking on the radial icon brings up the settings options. See below.

In this view, the toolbar is collapsed with the center (Up arrow) icon. The arrows on the right allow you to move the toolbar around the screen. Tapping on the pie icon switches to the radial menu. Right-clicking on the radial icon brings up the settings options. See below.

The RadialMenu settings. The Menu Size allows you to scale the wedges. Along the bottom, you can create, copy or delete application profiles.

The RadialMenu settings. The Menu Size allows you to scale the wedges. Along the bottom, you can create, copy or delete application profiles.

The RadialMenu's options are set in this window. Menu Follows Mouse attaches the menu to the pen cursor, although I had trouble reaching the commands in the right half of the pie with this option set. As a utility in development, RadialMenu still has some issues to be ironed out on various devices. I haven't been able to trigger the menu with a pen click alone on the Surface Pro 3. I use the keyboard trigger shown here (Ctrl-Shift-Z) and then tap to switch between the toolbar and radial menu.

The RadialMenu's options are set in this window. Menu Follows Mouse attaches the menu to the pen cursor, although I had trouble reaching the commands in the right half of the pie with this option set. As a utility in development, RadialMenu still has some issues to be ironed out on various devices. I haven't been able to trigger the menu with a pen click alone on the Surface Pro 3. I use the keyboard trigger shown here (Ctrl-Shift-Z) and then tap to switch between the toolbar and radial menu.

UPDATE 10/22/15 RadialMenu's developer continues his torrid pace of development and today released version 0.2.3.83 which corrects many of the issues I identify above. Now, setting RadialMenu to load on startup on my Surface Pro 3, I can hold down the right pen button and tap on the desktop to call up the radial menu. Right button + tapping again (away from the center and the command wedges) brings up the standard Windows context menu. Right button + tapping on the center will call up the RadialMenu settings.

Problems persist with Menu Follows Mouse. When the UI is scaled to 100% or 125%, the radial menu icons can be accessed normally, but at 150% or above, I can't reach the lower right icons.

Look for alternate version 0.2.3.83 x64 at http://radialmenu.weebly.com/download.html I wasn't able to run the standard version listed on that page.

To customize the individual RadialMenu wedges, right click the wedge to edit. In addition to several preset options, you can also define a hotkey toggle or create a Macro command (see right).

To customize the individual RadialMenu wedges, right click the wedge to edit. In addition to several preset options, you can also define a hotkey toggle or create a Macro command (see right).

Editing the functions of the toolbar works the same way as the radial menu. Just right click and select your desired function.

Editing the functions of the toolbar works the same way as the radial menu. Just right click and select your desired function.

By default, the toolbar consists of five rows and two columns. The individual buttons can be scaled and the top row of icons can be individually hidden. Auto collapse will shrink the toolbar when you mouse away from it.

By default, the toolbar consists of five rows and two columns. The individual buttons can be scaled and the top row of icons can be individually hidden. Auto collapse will shrink the toolbar when you mouse away from it.

Expanding the number of available items in a toolbar is a simple matter of increasing the available rows and columns.

Expanding the number of available items in a toolbar is a simple matter of increasing the available rows and columns.

If you don't like the pie wedges of the default RadialMenu, the size, shape and color can be edited in a wide variety of ways.

If you don't like the pie wedges of the default RadialMenu, the size, shape and color can be edited in a wide variety of ways.

The developer may have set out to emulate Wacom's radial menu, but it's clear that this utility is significantly more powerful than the original. I've encountered a few bumps as I've tested, but Huegel has been quick to post fixes.

You can download RadialMenu for yourself at radialmenu.weebly.com and either leave comments or questions in that site's forum or participate in the forum threads over at TabletPCReviews.

Although RadialMenu is free to download and install, I plan to contribute a few bucks to reward the developer for his efforts and encourage the utility's further development. I hope you will too.

Posted
AuthorRick Rodriguez
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