During the past five or six months I've been having fun messing around with a cute little painting app. called Didlr (see links below). I've never been one for social media sites such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter etc... but when I stumbled upon a simple paint program, grounded on the idea of social communication via pictures, I figured it was worth having a dabble (or Didl?) with. So far it's been a lot of fun, so here's a little review...
Within the app. you'll find lots of modern trappings that lend themselves well to the communal, social side of things that the program is certainly aiming for: You have the ability to comment on other users 'Didls', reply directly with your own Didl (some users are having whole conversations with little illustrations, text, and doodles), check out current trends, view the latest 'best' Didls, give out stars to the Didls you like, and 'follow' your favourite Didler's. There's also a bunch of medals (appropriately called 'Medls') for you to earn - just like modern gaming trends.
So what about the painting/Diddling side of things?
The first thing that became apparent when I initially booted the app. was how limited the tools were. But with that limitation comes it's own unique charm, and after a brief few sessions I began to fall in love with the feel of the UI (recently updated on Windows 8) and the general fun vibe of the community.
To begin with, you have a very limited palette (21 hues to be exact) which you can either use opaquely, or tick a box called 'see-thru ink' to paint in something that seems like 50% opacity, and no pressure sensitivity. So not much room for exploration you may think.
Well, again, I will say that it's the limitations of the program that can be viewed as something of a boon: I've had a lot of fun experimenting with a limited two point opacity palette, and finding ways to use the minimal colours in layers to achieve a wider range (the all important black, mid-gray, and white come in useful here, to some degree). In some ways it has even helped me understand certain aspects of colour theory in a clearer way. Sometimes it becomes frustrating but, inevitably, the challenge of finding a solution is very satisfying. It's like a game where you are essentially betting your odds on whether or not you can achieve a specific result, and there's everything to play for. Sometimes I have lost the gambit, but when an initial idea for colour layering actually works, it's such a great feeling; and in some cases it has changed the way I view certain primary colours.
Limited palette aside, you also have a limited amount of brush sizes - six in total - and the leap between the two smallest brushes can be a bit of a grind at times, but it's another excuse to mix up the way you work, and challenge yourself. You also have the ability to 'zoom & pan' on Windows 8 (phones will get it soon), and can work on three different layers.
The layer aspect isn't quite what would be expected of someone used to working with Photoshop, or numerous other programs. The bottom layer actually works in a strange way where you are literally painting underneath each respective stroke. It was a little odd to begin with, but I have found uses for it with experimentation - particularly for initial underpainting - where it really is 'underpainting'. The middle and upper layer work as expected.
So what else? Well, there's an 'undo' button, which you can use to literally delete every stroke from end to beginning, which makes sense as Didlr acts much like Colors! (which is my oldschool friend, and one which I will be tackling next) because it records brush strokes, so you have a playback option as standard. There's also the nice option of having all the painting tools (including palette) in a box you can drag around the screen, or 'dock' to the side. The dock feature only really works in landscape mode, but maybe a future update will allow you to dock the tools at the top or bottom of the screen when in portrait mode.
And, err... generally speaking, that's it as far as Didlr is concerned. It's a cute little social painting/communicating app. at it's heart, but it has the potential to be a lot of fun, or pointless frustration, for some of you Photoshop/Painter diehards. Either way, I don't care. I'm having a bit of fun on the side!
P.S. I managed to get a few of my 'Didls' blown up (see below), along with others, and slapped on the walls of Nokia HQ (mine are the one on the left, and the seagull and a spaghetti Clint Eastwood up top), which was, erm... interesting. They promised to send a gift. Never received squat. But hey-ho, that's corporations for you, and not a sleight on the warm and friendly Didlr crew.