Collaborate with Artists

Please note that the apps and stories linked to from this page, require a modern browser, such as a recent version of Google Chrome or Firefox.

Using my Xholon framework, I write a variety of open-source browser-based apps, mainly for myself, but recently also for pre-school and elementary school kids. I would love to collaborate with some artists. I'm good at structuring internal models, but not very good at displaying them artistically. I've been focusing on substance, and not enough on the equally important aspects of style. There's a definite divide here, similar to the different roles of writer and illustrator when producing a children's book. On the technical side, I'm interested in using both bitmap (PNG, GIF, JPEG) and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) images.

One possible initial approach to collaboration would be to share content between my web site and your web site. You would illustrate a story or other app that I would create, or I would animate a piece of your artwork, or both. The result would reside on both of our web sites. I'd like to build one or more prototypes of this type of collaboration. I'd also just like to talk to artists to exchange ideas. Maybe the resulting icons and/or fonts could also be placed on any of a growing number of online stores (The Noun Project, sites that sell fonts).

I've been able to use Icomoon to generate web fonts from a set of SVG files. Some of the SVG images are adapted from The Noun Project, some from Google's Material Design icon collection, some I've drawn myself, and some are from other sources. See my version of Harold and the Purple Crayon, which is about as good as the non-artist in me can do. Imagine what a true artist could do with this? It would be nice if there was a recognizable visual theme, instead of just a convenient collection of images. In general, the Icomoon icons should be SVG images that consist of a single path. But the images can also be more complex SVG files that are not part of a font.

In the Elevator simulation, my graphics style was inspired by the work of Ottawa artist Choleena DiTullio. I use a clickable SVG image as the GUI for this app. I like her use of colorful objects, separated by bold black or other-colored borders. It agrees with the object-oriented technology I use in Xholon.

I've done several related versions of Beatrix Potter's classic The Tale of Peter Rabbit, including a basic version, and a version with speech that requires the Google Chrome browser. I'm quite pleased with the color scheme I'm using, and how the semi-transparent colors in this SVG image work together as elements move around. I would love it even more if there were one or more lush backgrounds that would work well with each other and with an artistic set of icons for rabbits, berries, plants, people, etc. I'd like it to look more like a good animated cartoon.

In addition to children's stories, I've also done Jane Austen's book Pride and Prejudice. And I'm writing software that reads online movie scripts and presents them as Xholon stories. For all of these, it would be nice to have sets of story-specific icons.

It would be great if I could offer children and other Xholon developers an easy approach that anyone could use to produce respectable graphics. For example, the Scratch project offers a simple graphics editor that lets children create new sprites.

I've played around with Blobular which is a simple approach to creating SVG graphics using circles.

Microsoft Research offers some interesting approaches for non-artists, including Freeform Vector Graphics and ShadowDraw.

Having said all of the above, I do feel that I have in fact created something "artistic". It's not intentional art. It's automatically and algorithmically and effortlessly generated from internal models about real and imagined people, places, and things, and their everyday interactions with each other. And sometimes I decorate it with simple color and icon specifications. And I do have lots of additional ideas on possibilities at this more mechanical level, but it would still be nice to work with real people coming at it from different perspectives.

Links to some Xholon apps where graphics are especially important.

Links to some apps that use d3 for interactive animations, such as for children's stories.

Ken Webb

Xholon GWT is a Xholon project. Copyright (C) 2013 - 2016 Ken Webb