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I’ve been using a new digital art tool called Mischief. I sent a tweet a few days ago that said
“I'm gonna be real hyperbolic and say that I think this is as significant a technology as the textured polygon.”
I might have been more accurate to compare it to subdivision surfaces, or adaptive tessellation, but the implication is similar. 

Photoshop and other raster art programs like it, represent images as a collection of pixels. Each pixel is like the atom of the picture. The fewer the pixels, the less information is represented. If you scale up or down a pixel based image the missing information is interpolated. You can’t add detail to an image after it’s been created. You know that technology on cop shows where they go “zoom in and enhance”? Yeah, that’s nonsense. If you zoom in on a pixel based image, you see bigger pixels. 

That’s where vectors come in. A vector image is a set of curves plotted on a 2d grid. You can refine the grid as much as you want and the curve will remain smooth. Zoom in on a vector image and the computer will redraw the curve to display it as crisply as possible for your display. Vectors are made up of lots of points connected by calculated curves. While this is much more memory efficient than pixel graphics, it is also a lot more restrictive, and takes a lot of planning and forethought to create anything that isn’t complete garbage. 

Mischief uses, what they call, textured strokes. Each stroke is vectorlike, in that it is a mathematical representation of a curve, or series of curves, but it also contains other information like stroke width, stroke intensity, and interactions with underlying strokes all controlled by stylus pressure. What this means is that you can sketch an image and then blow it up, shrink it, or rotate it without having to interpolate any non existant pixels. So no artifacts. Mischief uses a computer to do what a computer does, display a representation of something that only exists as an equation. 

Anyone familiar with 3D or vector art tools will instantly grasp what Mischief, or tools like it promise. Using digital tools to create things that can only be created with digital tools. Now I’m going to go back to working out how to use it as resolution independant texturing tool. 
This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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