Ben Barnhart

Ben Barnhart

October 28, 2021
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Product

The Team Behind 4.4's Supercharged Brushes

An interview with the team behind the Brush Tool updates in Vectornator 4.4.

October 28, 2021
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Hey Vectornators!

Our 4.4 update has been out for over a week, and we’ve been loving the feedback so far! 

We’ve also been hosting our Vectornator 4.4 Learning Camp these past couple of weeks, both here, on our social media channels, and over on our Forum. 

In this installment, we’ve got a special article for you today—an interview with two of our team members who worked on one of the most exciting features in this update. 

Vectornator 4.4's Supercharged Brushes

It’s time to chat about the Brush Tool! 

Meet Igor and Konstantin; two of our team members who each played a huge part in bringing this update to life. They’re here to talk a bit more in detail about the Brush Tool updates and the process that went into making them a reality. 

First off, who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to join the Vectornator team!

Igor on the left, Konstantin on the right
Left: Igor | Right: Konstantin

Konstantin: Hey! I’m Konstantin, and I joined Linearity at the end of January this year. Before that, I studied computer science and math. 

During my studies, I learned a lot about Bézier curves and splines, and worked with them quite often. Therefore, Vectornator was the perfect place for me to apply my knowledge and learn more about the real world applications of these mathematical concepts.

Igor: Hi, I’m Igor. I’m a product manager at Linearity, with a background in UX/UI design. I worked for many years designing applications. Just before I joined the Vectornator team, I was working in the B2B sector, where I had very little access to my product’s end users. As a UX designer, I missed that a lot. 

I joined Linearity to be closer to the end users of the products I design, but I also wanted to work on a product that I deeply care about and love on a personal level. Vectornator has been exactly that, and was one of the best decisions I’ve made for me and my career. I’ve been working professionally with vector graphics for over ten years now, and having the opportunity to wake up everyday to design a tool that I love and actually want to personally use is just amazing.

What were your main goals for the new Brush Tool rework? 

Konstantin: Our main goal was to provide the user with a customizable stroke. The user should be able to draw a path and easily apply any brush stroke they like to it. 

When the user plays around with a path, the stroke should automatically adjust accordingly, without the user needing to change the contour of the stroke manually. Basically, we decided that a brush stroke should behave like a normal stroke, but it should also be fully customizable at the same time.

A new Vectornator brush path
Brush paths are now vector paths with a special type of stroke.

Igor: The main goal we had for this rework of the Brush Tool was to give the user complete creative freedom by taking advantage of the full power of vector paths. 

These new brushes allow users to manipulate brush strokes much more easily, while at the same time offering the possibility for exploring different art styles in the same illustration by retroactively applying different brush profiles. And this rework also goes way beyond the Brush Tool! 

Given the popularity of the “brushstroke style” for lettering and illustration art, we worked hard to integrate brush strokes into all of Vectornator’s tools. Now, it’s possible to use brush strokes with any path, and you can even draw with brush strokes directly with the Pen Tool! 

We believe that this will open many possibilities for our users, and we are super excited to see what they will create with these new features.

What was it like collaborating with the team during this project?

Konstantin: The collaboration was great, especially with Igor. There were many times when we had to rethink the design or adjust it to accommodate the new capabilities offered by the new brush strokes technology. 

This led to multiple spontaneous Zoom meetings where we discussed which direction we would like to go and how we should improve our current functionality to accommodate for the new challenges.

An overview of the new Brush Tool interface
The new Brush Tool interface.

Igor: It was awesome working with the team; everyone was super motivated to deliver the best experience possible. We immersed ourselves completely in the topic and we learned a lot along the way. A lot of thought was put into the details, and it paid off! 

The good thing is that we have Konstantin, who is a perfectionist that works tirelessly and extremely precisely, taking care that every single detail of this brushes update was perfect. :) 

What was the process of developing this feature like?

Konstantin: The process was challenging, but in the end it was very rewarding. The biggest challenge was to integrate this new brush stroke style with all the different possibilities Vectornator provides for changing and manipulating vector paths. 

We defined a series of project milestones and tackled them one by one, with regular exchanges between the development and product teams.

Preset brush stroke options in Vectornator
The new preset Brush options.

Igor: The vision to have the Brush Tool create vector paths was very clear from the beginning. However, it was unclear what we needed to do in order to make this a reality, especially from the technical perspective. 

In the beginning, from the product side you don't see much of the progress that is happening under the hood, but the moment we saw the first vector paths generated with a brush stroke inside Vectornator was quite magical and exciting. 

From that point on, all the focus went into designing the experience of drawing and manipulating the Brush Tool. To achieve that, product design and development worked very closely together, and we had many sessions drawing with the new brushes and talking to different designers and illustrators to get their feedback.

What was your favorite part of this process?

Konstantin: Personally, I loved all of the spontaneous design discussions we had, which were sparked by the need to overcome the difficulties we were facing. It was very enjoyable to hear different opinions and weigh all of the advantages and disadvantages between these multiple approaches.

The brush tool editor
Brushes are fully customizable.

Igor: My favorite part was designing the experience of brushes as a brand new stroke type which now exists beside the regular stroke. This makes it possible to use brush strokes with any tool or apply them to any vector path inside Vectornator. This sparked some changes and improvements even beyond the Brush Tool that can already be seen in the Inspector.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Konstantin: The hardest part was definitely the incorporation of the new brush stroke type into the old design. It was quite the challenge to make every path be able to have a brush stroke.

Igor: The biggest challenges of this project have definitely been on the technical implementation side, but from the product perspective, the hardest part was to find the fine line between great experience and performance without compromising one or the other too much.

What is most exciting to you about this project?

Konstantin: I am most excited about all the new artwork that the people will be able to produce with the new brushes!

custom brushes can be created and saved
Save and edit your own brush presets.

Igor: I agree that the most exciting part is to see all the new artworks that will be created with the new brushes, but also it’s very exciting to know that this rework was a fundamental step that will allow us to continually improve our brushes and work on many of the other features that our users have been requesting for a long time.

Thanks for joining us, Vectornators! Stay tuned for another interview with the Vectornator team members about the new iCloud Sync integration!

And if you haven’t updated to Vectornator 4.4 yet, what are you waiting for? Grab it now and let your creativity run wild! 

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