Tag Archives: ebook

Review: SketchBook Pro Digital Painting Essentials

I recently had the chance to read through SketchBook Pro Digital Painting Essentials by Packt Publishing. The book is an overview and how-to guide of Sketchbook Pro digital painting software by Autodesk. It’s written for the computer software version, but many of the tools and techniques may be transferred over to the iOS and Android versions as well, just the user interface will be different.

Copyright Packt Publishing
Copyright Packt Publishing

If you’ve wanted to try Sketchbook Pro, but were too intimidated or weren’t sure how to get started, this book is a great starting point. It goes through all of the tools and how to modify each one to suit your style of drawing and painting. The book covers everything from the interface to layers to sketch and coloring. It is an in-depth starter guide to Sketchbook Pro and how to get started with the software.

However, it is important to note that this book does not teach you how to create specific pieces of art. The book does tell you how the author created each part of a specific piece that is shown, but it does not give you any step-by-step drawing directions. If you’re looking for a book that takes you through the process of creating the artwork shown on the cover, this is not it. If you’re looking for a book to show you how to use and create the tools necessary to create works of art, this book is definitely worth checking out.

Overall, SketchBook Pro Digital Painting Essentials is a great starter book to anyone interested in using Sketchbook Pro. It gets right to the heart of the subject without presenting you with unrelated filler.

Corona SDK Application Design

Many of you came across my blog after purchasing my book, “Creating Mobile Apps with Corona SDK“, where I take you directly into creating your own mobile applications. I didn’t discuss a lot of coding background, though since I just wanted to get readers interested in actually creating apps to see how fun it can be.

Now that you’ve gotten your first taste of the power of Corona, you’re probably yearning for more, but books that cover advanced Lua programming can seem intimidating and daunting. Daniel Williams, the programmer of The Phrase Game and Finding Hope, has also written a book about Corona SDK called “Corona SDK Application Design“. In this book, Daniel discusses more of the technical aspects of Lua coding and takes you through step-by-step to create real-world applications. This is a great intermediate step between beginner programming books like mine and advanced programming books

Corona SDK Application Design starts out covering the basics like installing and setting up Corona SDK and then quickly goes into Lua basics like variables, if/then statements, for/while loops, tables and functions. You then create an app using the storyboard tool and widgets, which are key to just about every app created with Corona SDK. You’ll also create a jigsaw puzzle game app and then test it on an actual device. There’s no point having an app on just your device though, so Daniel covers how to publish your app to the marketplaces so you can start raking in the fame and cash.

The book runs about 98 pages, not including the table of contents, credits, etc., which is a good length to keep you interested without making it seem like you’ve got a dictionary of Lua code sitting on your desk. It provides key background knowledge of the points covered without going into painstaking detail about every word of code that you type. It’s written by someone who actually has a lot of apps out on the app marketplace, so Daniel writes from experience of creating actual applications. If you enjoy learning how to create apps without all of the fluff, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

Corona SDK Application Design
Corona SDK Application Design

New Tutorial and App

After submitting my new iOS game to Apple yesterday, I wondered how difficult it would be to port over to Android. The biggest difficulty I noticed was that the full-page ad that I placed in it couldn’t be closed by Android users. This means that players would have to click through the ad, and then press their back button a couple times to get back to the game. This is totally unacceptable, so I switched it from a fullscreen ad to a banner ad, and that seemed to solve the issue.

Another difficulty was different screen resolutions and hardware specs. What seems to run fine on iPhones, iPads, and Galaxy Tab 7s made my HTC Thunderbolt crash. I had to alter the Android version a bit to get it to run on a Thunderbolt. This means it may crash on the other 50,000 Android devices out there that I don’t own for testing. Joys of Android development, I suppose.

Here is the link to the Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gpanimations.coffeegrab

The app isn’t anything spectacular, I just made it as a way to learn some new coding. Speaking of learning, my new tutorial is available today on RayWenderlich.com. In this tutorial, I take you through how to create and publish your own eBook using iBooks Author. It’s a great tool to make your own books for free.

Creating “Floating Fun”: Behind the Scenes

Now that my second children’s eBook app “Floating Fun” has been released for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Apple iPad, I will discuss some behind the scenes information.

Creating the second installment of the Colin Turtle book series was much easier than creating the first book because I already knew the creative process and this time, I had new software to utilize. I had knowledge of the many tools available to use to create apps and I knew what I wanted to accomplish with the second book.

The Original Title of Floating Fun
The Original Title of Floating Fun

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use the Kwik Photoshop plugin to create the book and Adobe Flash to draw the animations and illustrations. For the animations, I would use a sprite sheet creator, but I wasn’t sure if I would use Zwoptex, TexturePacker, Spriteloq, or SpriteHelper.

Adobe Flash - Initial Sketches
Adobe Flash – Initial Sketches

The deciding factor was being invited to alpha test Kwiksher’s new software that was being developed called “K2”. Not only was K2 adding a plethora of new features to its Kwik predecessor, but they were also working with Code and Web to create a K2 export function in the beta version TexturePacker Pro 3.0.0b10.

TexturePacker K2 Export
TexturePacker K2 Export

Having two great pieces of software working well together made it much easier to assemble the final project. In K2, you can select a layer, click the “Replace with Sprite Sheet” icon, then select the files TexturePacker created for you, and your animation is inserted in your book. It’s very easy to use and saves a ton of time trying to program sprite sheets in manually.

K2 - Beta 2 Interface
K2 – Beta 2 Interface

A few other features I used in K2 were the navigation menu, physics, external code insertion, and text highlighting. Clicking the Navigation Menu check box auto-generates an interface in which users can navigate your book through a series of thumbnail images. This is a nice addition, especially for users that want to navigate to a specific page without having to flip through the entire book.

(YouTube video showing physics, text highlighting, navigation menu and external bubble popping game code.)

The K2 physics feature allows developers to add gravity to pages of their books or even develop games directly in Photoshop. So if you’re looking for an easy way to create a game app, but don’t know where to get started, you can now use Kwik and Photoshop.

The external code feature can also help you develop games in Kwik. If you know your way around Lua coding and want to add your own code into a K2 project, you can now paste it in using the External Code option and choose where you want it to be inserted in the published file.

Floating Fun was the first eBook published using the K2 beta as well as the beta version of TexturePacker’s K2 exporter, without either of those pieces of software I would not have had the time or energy to create the book through an alternate method. Both K2 and TexturePacker saved me a lot of time and manual coding to create my book.