Tag Archives: kwiksher

Kaboom: Kwik Particle Emitter Plugin

A week or so ago, my colleague Alex Souza asked me to beta test his new plugin, “Kaboom“. It is an add-on for Kwik Photoshop plugin that lets you create particle emitters for your universal Corona apps. The benefit of using Kwik and Kaboom is that you can create full mobile applications with special effects without having to write a single line of code. Everything is done by placing artwork in Photoshop and telling it what you want it to do.

Within 5 minutes, I was able to create this:

I even wrote a tutorial on how to use Kaboom to create a similar project, which can be found here. If you order Kaboom within the next 2 weeks, you’ll actually save $20 off of the regular price, so it’s definitely worth acting quickly.

Please note: Corona Labs has not officially announced whether or not particle emitters will be supported in Starter or Basic versions of Corona SDK. If you’re a Pro user, you can use Kaboom today, but it’s unclear if Starter and Basic users will be granted access.

Kwik 3.0 Now Available

Last week, Kwiksher released their latest version of Kwik Photoshop plugin. I was fortunate enough to be part of the beta testing, and helped CEO Alex Souza discover some of the bugs before the final version was released.

Kwik v3

I was even able to release Maddie Bear’s Birthday for the iPad using the beta version of Kwik.

maddie bear's birthday

Kwik now is compatible with Corona SDK’s new storyboard tool called “Composer” as well as their new Graphics 2.0 anchor point system. It offers a revamped interface and a plethora of new features and settings that were not available in previous versions. You can now add monetization with iAds and AdMob, splash screens, in-app purchases if you’re a Corona Basic, Pro or Enterprise subscriber, and you no longer have to deal with the annoying task of enabling Adobe Flash to run the plugin.

kwik

Kwik has also switched over to a subscription business model to allow for more updates in order to keep up with the ever changing world of mobile app development. When Apple or Android make a change to their operating systems, Corona Labs has to follow suit, which in turn makes Kwiksher have to follow their lead.

There is also another huge benefit to their new subscription model. Let’s say you have an idea for a storybook app, but you’re not ready to make a huge investment in software in case your app doesn’t make you a lot of money or in case you just don’t end up liking app development. You can download the Corona Lab’s Starter Kit for free and then just do a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to Kwik, depending on how long you’ll need it.

You can also have your script reviewed, have video chat support, and pretty soon, Kwiksher can even publish your app to all of the major app store for you via their services program.

My latest book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, would have taken much, much longer to develop had I not used Kwik. It saved me days worth of coding. Check out my app at MaddieBearBooks.com to see what is possible with Kwik.

Maddie Bear's Birthday for iPad
Maddie Bear’s Birthday for iPad

From Kwik to Print

Since 2011, I’ve written, illustrated, and developed two children’s book apps and I’m currently working on my third. I’ve also recently illustrated and developed a book app for Huggable Melodies. Thanks to Kwik, creating the apps was very easy and it allowed me to focus on drawing instead of coding.

I drew the artwork in Flash, and then using Photoshop and the Kwik plugin, I was quickly able to covert the artwork into apps for the iPad and Kindle Fire tablets. However, since my daughter is only 16 months old, I wondered if iPads would even still be around in a few years when she could really comprehend the stories I had written for her. This made me want to consider self-published print versions.

The first company I tried out was Bookemon. It allowed me to upload artwork in landscape dimensions in full color and order on an as-needed basis. The only qualms I have with Bookemon is if you only want one copy, it’s a minimum of $15 shipped, which is kind of pricey for a small book. Also, if you allow the general public to order your book from Bookemon, they can read the entire book without buying it and Bookemon takes a royalty fee. I’m considering trying CreateSpace or Lulu for my next book and I’ll post about the process when I decide.

On the technical side, converting a book app to print-ready artwork was fairly easy and just took a little knowledge of resolution. Most digital artwork is 72dpi and printed work is 300dpi or higher. The book on Bookemon is 7.75″x5.75″, so I created a new document in Photoshop at that size with a resolution of 300dpi. Then I changed the image size resolution to 72dpi and got the new dimensions. I changed the stage size to those new dimensions of my Flash file and scaled down the artwork page by page. Since Flash creates vector artwork, there was no loss in quality. I exported each page as a .png file at 300dpi and uploaded them to Bookemon.

A few days later the print books had arrived and the line quality looks great.

 

Because of the vector artwork and high-resolution exporting, the artwork is crisp and colors are vivid. It’s nice to have an interactive digital version as well as a traditional print version of the books. For my next book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, I may try to implement an in-app purchase in the app version that allows you to order a print version as well. First, I have to finish drawing the book and then decide on a publisher.

Have any questions about going from digital to print? Leave a comment.

Review: Kut by Kwiksher

A couple days ago, Kwiksher announced their new software called “Kut“. You may know of Kwiksher because of their innovative Photoshop plugin “Kwik”, which allows you to create Corona SDK apps without code. However, Kut isn’t a tool to create apps, it’s a Photoshop plugin to help you create artwork for numerous devices quickly. You are free to use Java, JavaScript, Lua, Objective-C, etc. to create the apps, Kut just helps with the graphics side, not the coding.

You might be asking why this would be helpful. Say you or your client want to create an app that will run on all iOS and Android devices. Well, you could create the artwork for retina iPads, shrink it down in Photoshop for non-retina, shrink it again for phones, and then repeat for Android, Kindle Fire, Nook, etc. or you could design everything in Photoshop one time and then let Kut do the rest for you. Let me show you what I mean.

First, I downloaded the free trial of Kut and installed it via the Adobe Extensions Manager. Then in Photoshop I opened the Kut panel.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.20.23 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.20.55 AM

I opened Kut’s settings and selected the devices I would like to support.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.21.32 AM Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.21.49 AM

I started a new Document. In this case, I chose iPad Retina as my starting device since it has one of the largest resolutions of 2048×1536.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.22.32 AM

Using different layers, I created a screen for a game that is sure to win numerous awards for fantastic artwork. I saved my .PSD file to a folder on my Desktop.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.35.18 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.35.24 AM

I clicked the Publish button and got a popup window since it was my first time using Kut (in this instance, I wasn’t making an app icon, but Kut will create icons for your app if you want it to).

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.38.01 AMSo I did as the pop up asked and pasted the code into Terminal.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.38.19 AMAnd just like that, I had artwork compressed and sized for every device.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.39.22 AMObviously had I purchased the full version, the watermark of “KUT KUT KUT KUT” would not be on each image. However, in mere moments, I was able to create artwork for a game for 8 different devices. This could normally take hours and Kut did it all in a click of a button. If you’re thinking about picking up Kut, buy it before December 31st and it’s only $19.99.

EDIT:

I decided to pick up the full license to remove the watermark. Kut is definitely very useful software for cross-platform development and for $19.99, you can’t go wrong. This time when I published out my artwork, I was given a developer’s report that is part of the full-version of Kut.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 11.14.17 AM

This is extremely useful for rebuilding the interface in your coding language of choice. Now not only do I know the dimensions of my artwork, I also know the exact coordinates to place them on the screen. If you’re reading this, you should stop now and download Kut, it’s a great tool that I’m going to be using a lot.

Kwik “Next”

Today, Kwiksher announced its upcoming software “Kwik Next”, or as it will officially be called, just “Kwik”. Kwik will offer a variety of improvements to the user experience, a new pricing system, and a plethora of new features. Kwik will now be on a subscription service rather than a one-time fee. Those familiar with Adobe CC, Corona SDK Pro, and Lanica software have probably noticed the recent trend of subscription software. I’m glad Kwiksher chose to switch to subscription because Corona SDK is constantly changing to keep up with the changes in the Android and iOS ecosphere, which means Kwiksher also has to constantly change. Now instead of having to buy a new version every time Apple decides to change the iOS standards, Kwik users will always have up-to-date software.

A Kwik software subscription also means that you can now do a 3-month plan in case you just want to quickly publish your book idea. A 3 month subscription is expected to go for $99 USD as of the time of this writing, which is a great price for indie developers and children’s book authors. A year subscription is expected to be priced at $249 and also gives you the ability to vote on the next feature you’d like to see implemented into the software.

Right now, Kwik is still in beta and looking for users to help test the software. Kwik 2 customers can join the beta team for about $149 USD. You may be asking why you’d want to pay to beta test software when most companies offer it for free. In this case, the $149 gets you a 15 month subscription to Kwik, which saves you about $200 ($249 for 12 months + $99 for 3 months – $149 Beta = $199) and this deal is only good until Corona Labs lifts the new storyboard NDA. The new version of Kwik will run on the officially supported Storyboard tool once it’s finished by Corona Labs, whereas Kwik currently runs on director. So this deal could last a day or it could last a couple months, it’s hard to say. Regardless, I joined the beta team as soon as I could, which brings me onto this next segment.

Installing the new Kwik

A lot of Kwik users had trouble getting the software setup initially, which Kwiksher has addressed with this new version. Now when you run the software, it takes you through step-by-step, and copies any text you’ll need to your clipboard for you.

installScreen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.46.53 AM

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.46.57 AMScreen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.47.08 AM Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.47.11 AM Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.47.14 AM Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.47.18 AM

If at anytime you need assistance, you can click on the Help button and it will take you to a video tutorial of how to install it step-by-step. The Settings window now has an option for Colored Icons, which is a great new feature that I’ll show you momentarily.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.47.50 AM

The new Kwik panel also has a built-in showcase for Kwik-made apps when it first opens. You only see the ad until you start a project or open an existing one. The panel also gives you easy access to pre-made templates if you’re new to Kwik and want to see what is possible. Your previous projects are also listed in the panel so you can quickly open any project you’ve worked on in the past.

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Now onto the colored icons. The colored icons allow you to quickly (kwikly?) see what interactions go with each group. Here we can see that Animations is a yellow group, so anything listed in yellow is an animation. Pink are related to Interactions, Purple are Physics, etc. This will be especially helpful to newer users. Now you won’t have to wonder where to go for say, Body Properties, you can see that they’re purple, so they must be under the purple Physics panel.

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Another new feature is the ability to search for items. In my first project test, I had a few interactions for ball objects. Rather than having to look throughout the Kwik panel for anything named “ball”, I could easily look for them using the new search tool.

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Another new method of searching for specify items is to look by the type of interaction or property you’ve assigned to it. Here I looked for anything that had a Physics Body.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.57.36 AM

Those are just a few of the new features available right now in the new Kwik beta. If you’re hesitant to sign up now, you can still buy Kwik 2 until the end of September, which is not a subscription or you can wait until the final version of Kwik is released and download the free trial, which will allow you to create a few pages for free.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 6.56.36 AM

Overall, I think the new Kwik looks and feels great to use and I’m very excited to see what Kwik will bring once Corona Labs releases their new storyboard tool. I think the subscription plans of $99-$249 have something to offer every indie developer regardless of budget and Kwik will be a great investment for children’s book authors.

New Kwik 2.0 Tutorial

I was curious if it was possible to create an app using Kwik Photoshop plugin and Corona SDK that allows you to use a camera to insert a picture of someone into an app. I wanted to use Kwik since it is mostly used by children’s book creators and thought it might be fun to put a child’s face directly into a storybook app to add interactivity.

Using just a few lines of external code, I was able to accomplish this, so I showed it to Alex, the creator of Kwik software. He thought it might make a nice tutorial, which you can follow here: http://www.kwiksher.com/tutorials-kwik/image-replacement-from-camera-intermediate/

Mobile Updates

I apologize for slacking on new blog posts, my wife gave birth to our first child on July 22 and things have been very busy ever since. I have kept up with mobile development though, so I figured I’d go over a few items in which I can cover in more detail in future posts.

Pending Apple’s approval, I should have two new free apps debuting in a couple weeks. One is called “Newborn Tracker”, which I created out of necessity. It helps you track when your baby eats, how much they consume, and when they have a dirty diaper, etc. Apparently this is really important in the first couple weeks of having a baby so the pediatrician knows how they are doing.

The other app is called “Serial Box”, which lets you keep track of all of your valuables, their serial numbers, their worth, and store an image of them in case of theft or fire. The apps were based off of an old tutorial I used, so that’s why they’re completely free. Plus, I just think they’re useful and I want people to be able to take advantage of them without paying or putting up with ads.

I have written a guest blog post for Corona Labs that will be on their site on Sunday, August 19th. Check it out on www.CoronaLabs.com/blog. It covers my process of using Kwik 2 beta and Corona SDK to create my children’s eBook “Floating Fun“.

Speaking of my children’s book, I was also interviewed by Alex Souza, creator of Kwik about being the first person to ever create an app using Kwik 2.0 Beta. You can read the interview here and see it on the Kwiksher Showcase here.

When I told Ray Wrenderlich from www.RayWenderlich.com about my book, he asked me to write a tutorial on How to Create an Interactive eBook without Code. I wrote up the first draft as well as about 70 screenshots to take you through the process step-by-step. Now I’m just waiting to hear back from the editorial and testing teams to make revisions and get it published on their site. I’ll keep you posted when it’s available.

If you’ve never visited the site before, I strongly recommend it. I completed the 7 part tutorial about creating a Bluetooth enabled card game and I started the first part of the Apprentice series, which is free if you sign up for the newsletter. So far, I have to say the iOS Apprentice series is by far the best written tutorial I’ve read on how to learn Objective-C. Instead of giving you a chunk of bland code to copy and paste, the author explains in everyday terms what each word means, giving real world examples in which to compare them.

Bluetooth Card Game

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.