Importing AI files

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Postby Ritalin » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:10 pm

Pseud O'Nym wrote:Moho's own drawing tools aren't that bad.


Thanks Pseud O'Nym, I totally agree. I was goign to start a tread about that, but time is against me just in this one. I have found the drawing tools to be very clever and didn't have that hard of a time learning them. I especially found the roundness and sharpness tools clever... although, i'd like to see them worked into the drawing tool so one could fix on the fly.

I'm trying to get the hang of the tools for this piece, but we'll see how it goes. I am stilll in my trial period right now, but I've run into so many barriers in Moho along the way my judgement will remain on the fence.
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Postby Lost Marble » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:22 pm

Toontoonz wrote:As you will notice everytime this hot topic subject is brought up, LM is no where to be found.


Sigh...
This is simply not true. In fact, in an earlier post of yours in this thread you quote me from an earlier discussion. You also posted links to other discussion threads I've participated in. So it's simply not true that I never respond to this. The problem is that I can't spend all my time saying the same thing over and over again:

Moho represents vectors in a very different way from Illustrator. As far as I know, the way Moho handles vectors is different from pretty much all other vector programs out there. The purpose of this originally was to reduce the number of control points needed to draw shapes. (Not to be compared to the number of points in imported shapes.) A low number of points was important to bone setup and general animation. As Moho has grown through several versions and the bone tools have matured, a low number of points is not necessarily so critical. For example, instead of manually binding points to bones, features like flexi-binding and bone strength make is so that you don't need to manually manage every single point in your artwork.

A whole separate aspect of Moho's vectors is that one point on a curve affects other neighboring regions of the curve. This can be frustrating to Illustrator users, but it has a purpose: a static illustration is a very different thing from a moving animation. Moho curves act this way to intionally trade off some precision for fluidity.

This leaves open the possibilty of changing how Moho represents vector artwork. However...we can't just rip out the vector code in Moho and replace it with a totally different underlying representation. People are using Moho for real work and there are a lot of existing files out there, and we can't just yank the rug out from under them - even if we plan to replace it with a nicer rug. Software with active users has to evolve gradually.

The topic of Illustrator import has become a hot one recently, and I'm trying to figure out how to improve Moho in this regard. One option would be to have two types of vector layers - one that works like the current type, and one that represents vector curves like Illustrator does. This seems like it would cause the least disruption to current Moho users. But it's still a good bit of work, and isn't going to happen tomorrow or next week.
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Postby Lost Marble » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:26 pm

Toontoonz wrote:Moho - could you please post the .ai file and Moho file of this very complicated illustration (above) you use as your example on the features page as using a .ai file in Moho:
http://www.lostmarble.com/moho/features/index.shtml

I would really like to test it.


Here you go:

http://www.lostmarble.com/misc/picasso.ai

And Toontoonz, give Rasheed a break. He is just as free to speak his mind here as you are.
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Postby BA » Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:04 pm

wow, what a heated debate.

IMHO, transferring vectors from one program to another is always dirty business. I've done a lot of back-and-forth between Illustrator and Flash and they suffer from Vector Confusion Syndrom (VCS - i just coined that) as well. Also their drawing tools, though similar in some ways, differ in some major ways - like moho.

The distortion that happens in moho is more apparent, but i think it more than makes up for it in all the things it can do that those programs can't come close to. Like LM implies, these vectors are going to be used quite differently from the vectors in Illustrator or Flash, which are by nature static. If your shape is going to move in a certain way, or morph into another shape, there is a different logic you must employ to how you place your points.

Animating in flash, I've found it's just easier to draw things in the same program, rather than importing illustrator art (though it may be prettier)...the more you can do within one interface the less hoops you have to jump through to make something.

I would much prefer that LM spend their time on improving the current drawing tools, rather than turning it into another adobe/macromedia product. A couple suggestions/feature requests:

- presets for the freehand tool settings - those numbers can be a bit confusing, especially when zooming in and out (the scale of the effect changes as you zoom)

- better bezier control? each curve seems to be locked at a certain angle - it would be better if we could adjust that angle, ie rotate the point


in closing - why add the extra step... learn to draw in moho. I'm not saying I wouldn't like better Illustrator input, I just think it isn't something worth fighting over. 8)
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Postby Toontoonz » Sat Jul 09, 2005 10:41 am

Lost Marble wrote:And Toontoonz, give Rasheed a break. He is just as free to speak his mind here as you are.

That´s a relief. For a brief moment there I thought you had asked the opposite - for Rasheed to give Toontoonz a break; that he is free to speak his mind here as Rasheed is. :wink:
In the future I will do as you recommend and leave others to comment on Rasheed´s pearl´s of wisdom and knowledge regarding art, animation and Moho.

-----------------------------
Moho Picasso:
Image
click for larger view.

Moho: 3,571 points. Illustrator: about 1/10th that.
Colors, shapes....hmmmmmmmm.
At an ad agency I worked for we once had to cough up over $45,000 to reprint a brochure that had the color stripe along the top edge of the page off by a tiny fraction of a shade of green. My client´s would reject this Moho Picasso version in a second with a "you gotta´ be kidding" look. Okay for a hobby or student animator I guess, but not what corporate suits will accept.

--------
P.S. If you haven´t already done so, I suggest you put your explanation regarding .ai files in the FAQ forum section, since I suspect every new-to-Moho artist that uses a vector drawing program thinking they can import a .ai file into Moho will get the same surprise and wonder why it does not work properly.
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Postby Pseud O'Nym » Sat Jul 09, 2005 5:00 pm

Animation that will only ever appear on a monitor is a very different thing from artwork for 4 colour process printing though.
As I said in my previous post, the CMYK to RGB conversion method specified by Adobe is not accurate, and is not used in their own apps.

Check this - import that ai, select one of the green fills and see what Moho gives for the RGB.
Now here's the pcode Adobe say one should use for the CMYK to RGB:

red = 1 - min(1, c + k)
green = 1 - min(1, m + k)
blue = 1 - min(1, y + k)

Here's the line in the file that specifies the offending green:

0.94 0.41 0.93 0 k

Get values for CMYK - remember we need whole numbers between 0 and 255:

c = 255 x 0.94 = 239.7 rounds to 240
m = 255 x 0.41 = 104.55 rounds to 105
y = 255 x 0.93 = 237.55 rounds to 238
k = 255 x 0 = 0

Calculate the RGB:

red = 255 - min(255, 240) = 15
green = 255 - min(255, 105) = 150
blue = 255 - min(255, 238) = 17

Which is exactly what Moho gives you.

I doubt Adobe are going to tell LM how they do it so, I repeat, if you want better colour accuracy, export from Illustrator as RGB.
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Postby Toontoonz » Sat Jul 09, 2005 5:42 pm

I am not sure what you are trying to say.
You think the colors and shapes look the same in the Lost Marble Picasso Illustrator file vs. Lost Marble Picasso Moho rendered file? I don´t.
Please note I used Lost Marbles files, not mine.
I did nothing to them, I touched up no art or made any color corrections or changes.
The artwork comes from here on the Lost Marble website:
http://www.lostmarble.com/moho/features/index.shtml
Click on the word sample at this line in the drawing section:
"Import Adobe Illustrator files: re-use artwork from other vector-based programs. Sample"
------------------
You write in your note: "...export from Illustrator as RGB."
That´s how I do it. Why would one use CMYK for a video job?
Also when I export from Illustrator I make sure the artwork is sized to fit the window in Moho. Plus I usually add anchor points to my artwork in Illustrator to help prevent the Moho line distortion.
And in Moho I usually use this script written by janimatic to more easily change the colors to the ones that were in Illustrator:
http://www.lostmarble.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1369

Please check out these forums:
http://www.lostmarble.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1498
"* Improved Illustrator import - better interpretation of line widths and CMYK color "
and
http://www.lostmarble.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1505[/i]

--------
And your note about colors on the monitor vs. colors in printing.
Dumb question maybe, but what if your client wants to use the characters in your Moho animation in a print campaign? Have you tried to get a 300 dpi, CMYK, 29.7 x 42 cm image file out of Moho and then compared colors back the other way? I´ve never tried it, but would be interested in your results. Keep in mind that you can´t export a vector drawing from Moho to work with it in another vector program.
-------
And please check through the "Share your Work" forum and you will see a few examples of test animations I have done---most drawn in Adobe Illustrator. However, I can´t remember seeing anyone else post any animation here that was done using Adobe Illustrator or other vector illustration program.
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Postby Pseud O'Nym » Sat Jul 09, 2005 6:14 pm

"You think the colors and shapes look the same in the Lost Marble Picasso Illustrator file vs. Lost Marble Picasso Moho rendered file? I don´t."

No I don't. The shape discrepancies have been very fully explained by LM, what I'm trying to point out is that the colour discrepancies arise from following the method laid down by Adobe for making the CMYK to RGB conversion. To exactly match the colours displayed in Illustrator
would require either reverse engineering Illustrator, or getting Adobe to divulge their code.

I have downloaded the picasso file, that's how I was able to isolate the line that specifies the particular green that stands out so clearly as being incorrect. The colours in the file are all in CMYK, a mistake on LM's part I feel.

I don't use Illustrator myself, but the RGB files I export from the software I do use match well for colour, though not for shape or line thickness. Are you sure the colours in your files are actually being exported as RGB?
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Postby Toontoonz » Sat Jul 09, 2005 7:12 pm

I can import .ai files into Flash and they match.
I can import vector files from Flash into Illustrator and they match.
And the same with all other vector illustration programs. I use them all - well, most of them anyway.
The problem, as LM outlined above, is Moho is not the same vector program as the other vector programs. perhaps a good example is using electricity, it´s similar trying to get AC into DC or vice-versa.
I am very aware of all the problems with .ai files - I have been involved with most of the discussions regarding them. Please check the forums.
I´m still not sure what discussing them all again (for the 4th, 5th or is it 6th time?) will accomplish anything. (Hence I suggested LM put their explanation above on their FAQ page.)
Like I mentioned in my post above I have yet to see anybody post any .ai file animations on any Moho forums since I have been here - other than me. (Perhaps you could post a few!) So it does not seem to be an issue for 99.9% of the Moho users.

And you note your concerns regarding CMYK files and they shouldn´t be imported into Moho - yet, Moho 5.1.1 has an update specifically written for CMYK .ai files. Check the forums and I think you will find LMs explanation for that. (This has been discussed before in the forums here - hence the 5.1.1 CMYK update.)
And you will find that Moho does import the basic RGB colors (black, white, red,yellow, blue, green) very well - but try some off basic colors and you will start noticing the difference. (The Picasso graphic has lots of basic colors in it.)

You also note: "but the RGB files I export from the software I do use match well for colour".
"Match well" is not good enough for my clients. "Match perfect" are the magic words. And even if the colors matched and the shapes sucked, what good is that?
(And don´t forget the points in the Moho version - over 3,500 points in the Moho Picasso graphic. Thousands and thousands more points can mean slow to impossible animating and rendering, sometimes dragging one´s computer to a halt. One time I imported in one single .ai drawing file that Moho converted to over 50,000 points. Took about a half hour just to load in Moho!)

If you don´t use a vector drawing program or never plan to use a vector program to import .ai files into Moho then there is no need to worry about the problem Moho has importing the .ai files. (Who even uses .ai files in Moho???)
Use Moho´s drawing tools or even better, import .png image files into Moho! Moho is best suited for "cut-out" picture type animations - using raster image files. :D
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Postby Green Walls » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:08 pm

Wow this is a fun discussion, so I figure I should join in. I am an avid user of Illustrator, Flash, and Moho.

In using these programs, I have had issues transfering from Illustrator into Flash, from Flash into Illustrator, and from Illustrator into Moho. My solution to these issues is to simply, use the tool that works best for what I want ot accomplish. For instance at my work, I am currently working on a web based animation project in which I am using all three programs. Moho is the best for my more complex animation sequences, but I am using Illustrator for my more complex illustrations, and then I will combine everything in Flash and export it.

I consider each of these programs as tools and not all-in-one solutions. Each excels in certain areas. My hope is that Moho, Illustrator and Flash will combine into the ultimate program of the universe, but until then, I will be content.
Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.
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Postby Andrewstopheles » Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:53 am

I'm new here, so forgive me for commenting after all of you, but I work all day every day with Illustrator in a prepress environment, and I bought Moho not for hooby work but for a larger commercial production, so I feel my comments are justified. I had really hoped the Illustrator import would work better, but my initial disappointment vanished when I started the drawing tutorials. Illustrator's drawing tools (everyday bezier pen tool) sucks - that is when compared to Moho's Add Point tool, considering their related tools as well. I find Moho to be a far better drawing tool. I might add that while Illustrator can make some very accurate curves and has some very powerful capabilities it is pretty tedious to draw out frame by frame (layer by layer in Illustrator) to export a swf animation, because I have done it enough times. (LM if you did the idea with the multiple types of vector layers that would be great, and I am willing to wait until you get around to it). The time it would take to import an Illustrator file and correct the problems is reasonable considering the value you get out of Moho.
As a side note, have you all tried importing Quark files or Freehand files or Corel files or CAD files into Illustrator? Not exactly a smooth workflow either, is it?
Toontoonz, I feel your pain, and often. But you too can be one with the Moho, it is your friend. :D
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Postby heyvern » Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:03 am

Since the "new guy" brought this back up... ;)

I have stopped using Illustrator when working with Moho...

I don't like Adobe Illustrator anymore. It drives me nuts. I much prefer the fluid and artistic feel of creating in Moho. Since I "modified" my own selection tool (try doing that in Adobe Illustrator) I have the perfect tool for editing.

I find I can make INCREDIBLY simple low point shapes in Moho that for me are perfect.

The only reason I STARTED OUT using AI import with Moho was because of my lack of experience using Moho's drawing tools and the fact that I had some "characters" already drawn in that format.

I feel so confident now in using Moho there is no reason to draw in Illustrator and import to Moho... although...

... I never really had trouble with that either. Once I learned how moho worked... I changed my drawing "technique" in Illustrator to better "match" what moho would do to it on import. I am so use to modifying imported files of any kind that the small amount of fixing up work didn't seem so bad.

------------------------

To anyone new to this topic. Don't let too much of the negative aspects discussed here scare you.

Yes, it is true that Moho does not import AI files PERFECTLY... who would expect that?? I can't even get Flash to do that PERFECTLY.

But it does a DAMN better job of it than 1000 other file format conversions I have to deal with all the time... video... audio... 3D formats... text... databases... <sigh>

-Vern
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Postby ingie01 » Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:29 pm

This all just goes to show how democratic the World Wide Web is. In the dim dark past artists did not have the ablility to "critique" and discuss the tools of the trade. They would have to travel distances or hire delivery services since telephones did not have the ability to transmit viable art work. Talk about time consuming! Electronic forums are the next best thing to being there.
You'll know when you get there! My Dad
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another newby Illustrator user

Postby SmartArtist » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:21 am

It's a long shot but any chance you could share this knowledge somehow.

"I never really had trouble with that either. Once I learned how moho worked... I changed my drawing "technique" in Illustrator to better "match" what moho would do to it on import. I am so use to modifying imported files of any kind that the small amount of fixing up work didn't seem so bad."

I've just purchased Moho under the premiss I could use the skills, styles and characters I already have created in illustrator and told many of my professional artist friends they could do the same with this product.

Moho WILL gain a large audience of users if they can make the AI element of this program work better.




:)
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Postby heyvern » Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:11 am

Sorry that this topic keeps coming back.

Personally I think it is a completely dead issue.

However... the simple things I did in Illustrator to streamline input to Moho was very... simple... keep the lines "simple". Don't use HUGE GIGANTIC modifications of a points bezier handles to make a curve. Use several points in AI to do this. Just as you would if you knew how to draw in Moho.

When possible don't even modify the curve handles in illustrator. Add extra points and move them around.

ILLUSTRATOR IS FOR PRINT! PRINT DAMMIT IT IS FOR PRINT!

You can argue that Flash is animation... and... AI kind of... does Flash...

But the AI format was INVENTED FOR PRINT. And the curve descriptions haven't changed AT ALL since it was created.

You draw an arm in illustrator... the dang points aren't done for smooth bending of an elbow... you might not even have the points needed for proper motion in the first place... since ILLUSTRATOR IS FOR PRINT.

Draw as you would in Moho... for animating. That is why I don't bother any more. I draw everything in Moho from scratch... OR... I draw in Illustrator and save an image to TRACE in Moho.

Learn to draw in MOHO dagnabbit! It is fun. You get the hang of it eventually... but you WON'T get the hang of if you constantly try to fit a square peg in a round hole.

In conclusion.. I think the complaints about AI to Moho are inspired by...

this is going to be bad...

LAZYNESS!!

A lazy artist blames his tools. An inspired artist will get it done no matter what and be proud of the results.

LM has no obligation to support AI any better than they have. I thought the AI import was fine when I first started using it... colors? You got to be kidding! Colors never translate PERFECTLY from any application.

----------------------------

The character in this post was done in Illustrator and imported into Moho with minor adjustments. The hair was done in Photoshop. I created this character in Illustrator before even using the Moho demo. I was thrilled when it imported so well:

http://www.lostmarble.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3219

-vern
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