Vector Design Tool Technologies

We've tamed the Bézier! The Astute Graphics Astui SDK is an essential building block for developers and creatives who wish to bring about tomorrow's vector design and workflow tools.

The SDK itself is internally made of several core technologies which can be accessed in two ways; online using the Astui Web API or through a corporate licensed locally installed SDK (Mac OS, Windows, mobile, web service, etc.).

The technologies are designed to be act like building blocks. So whether you're simply looking to optimise vector artwork or develop exciting new creative tools and functionality, we have you covered. Learn more below about the technologies which can be deployed on Mac OS, Windows, mobile and web.

Full details available on request. Just contact us today to ensure your product leaps ahead of the competition!

Shape Join

Also known as Pathfinder and Boolean operations. Shape joining allows two shapes to be united, subtracted, intersected or excluded. Variants of splitting shapes depending on their intersections are based on these primitives.

Designed to cope with the most complex artwork designers typically throw at this process. An extensive test period with internal and external professionals has resulted in a robust system that is designed to work with Astute Graphics’ pre- and post-processing mechanisms to produce the finest quality results in the industry.

Path Offset

Although often used by creatives to produce quick results and effects, the ability to reliably offset a Bézier path by a set distance is an essential foundation for many operations.

The Astute Graphics offset mechanism produces excellent results for not only closed paths, but uniquely open paths too!

Smart Point Removal

Related to the more common Simplify approach, Smart Point Removal is much more powerful. It superbly calculates how to reduce the number of points required to maintain a given Bézier shape.

Various methods are available including removal of single points, selections and the automatic processing of entire shapes. Removal can also be made using brush gestures as well as accept styles pressure input to control the removal tolerance.

Astute Graphics have made this technology public for several years in its popular Adobe Illustrator plugins VectorScribe (PathScribe and Smart Remove Brush) and VectorFirstAid (Super Smart Remove).

Curve Fitting

A technique that is the basis of producing the ubiquitous Pencil-like tool. At its core is the ability to convert user input sample points from a mouse, touch device, stylus, etc. into Bézier paths.

Astute Graphics’ curve fitting was developed to provide additional control and quality of results to its DynamicSketch v2.1+ plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. By better analysing and converting inputs such as curves and corners, designers immediately gain benefits from paths which require reduced or no rework, plus are designed to be easier to edit with minimal and considered point placement.

Collision Detection

A smaller but still critical foundation component to full Bézier control is the ability to calculate when shapes edges collide and intersect.

At the heart of many Astute Graphics Bézier technologies, its accurate and reliable methods have also led to another popular Adobe Illustrator plug-in, ColliderScribe.

Extend and Retract Curve

As with Collision Detection, the ability to extend or retract the length of a Bézier path segment with accuracy may be shadowed by other technologies, but it remains a powerful tool.

First deployed publicly in the Adobe Illustrator plug-in VectorScribe v3 (Extend Path), the basis of this method can be found in the likes of rounded corners.

Construction Technologies

Path Reshape

Cubic Bézier curve technology was introduced into computer-based design from the outset. Its mathematical basis provides designers with a flexible path segment to shape in many ways. Its popularity is reflected in that it remains the basis for all mainstream vector design tools such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Affinity Designer and more.

However, the learning curve it presents to novices is a story often retold. A sequence of Bézier segments that make up a path (such as the design of a font character) can also be cumbersome to edit by professionals attempting to produce precise and aesthetically pleasing results.

Various approaches have been attempted over the years to overcome these limitations. Ultimately, the highly embedded reliance on Béziers in formats such as PostScript, PDF, EPS and SVG mean that alternative curve technologies require translation to/from Béziers which introduces excess points, artefacts and more.

Astute Graphics has adopted a more pragmatic and highly intuitive approach which allows designers to manipulate any sequence of Bézier segments in a single movement. The profile of the user-defined length of path can be pulled and pushed “inside” and “outside” the open or closed path at any point.

Once editing is completed, the results are constructed from pure, optimised Bézier segments which can be handled and edited as normal.

Variable Stroke Widths

Differing from brushes, variable strokes widths are a more interactive and flexible technology allowing designers to add subtle or dramatic width variations along a path. Typically implemented as non-destructive, the underlying path profile is retained allowing the resultant variance to move with any reshaping of the path.

The complexity of implementing variable stroke widths had meant that, to date, there is only one full deployment of this technology in the public domain with Adobe Illustrator (CS5, released 2010).

Astute Graphics set out to create an enhanced implementation which results in fewer points being produced when expanded to a Bézier outlined stroke. This goal was comfortably achieved.

Vector Brushes

Every self-respecting professional-grade vector design tool demands well implemented vector brush technology. Even though not intended to replace the realism possible with pixel-based brushing, vector brushes allow designers to gain natural effects, realism and artistic flourishes whilst keeping all the benefits of a vector design.

Astute Graphics’ brush technology allows an arbitrary vector shape to be used as the basis of a brush which can then be applied along the length of a path.

Options include applying Variable Stroke Widths, corner types (miter, round, bevel), brush offset relative to the path, scaling, mirroring and brush element repeat types.

Critically, expanded brush’s point count and positioning define the quality of Astute Graphics’ results ensuring that designers can continue to work with ease on the path.

AG Tech vector brushes static preview image

Demonstration video to follow.

Outline Stroke

Strokes define the width of “stripe” laid on a path. Default stroke technology as used in all established formats including PostScript, PDF, EPS and SVG allow strokes to be solid, dashed, end-capped and more.

The ability to convert a stroke to a closed, filled path with clean results using minimal and well-placed points is an essential part of many design workflows.

Astute Graphics’ technology allows just that with minimum fuss and maximum quality.

Move Points to Tangencies

Renowned designers and trainers often advocate structured point placement around a path. Typically placed at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions, this method is referred to by #1 vector design trainer Von Glitschka as the “clockwork method”.

The most exacting application of Bézier design – fonts – demonstrate this technique with the best character sets. Minimal use of points, where each one is precisely located ensures precise and elegant results.

The trouble is that a creative workflow using non-Astute Graphics automated tools such as the Pencil, tracing and brushes don’t take this into account, preferring instead to place points where convenient for the mathematician and software developer. This can make the result psychologically harder for a designer to edit with precision and ease.

Astute Graphics’ ability to move points to tangencies is one of the ultimate post-processing fixes for all vector artwork. First featured publicly in the Adobe Illustrator plugin VectorScribe (PathScribe).

Applying the Magic

Are you interested in powering your tools with Astute Graphics’ technology? Leapfrog many years of development time and gain instant access to Astute Graphics’ “know how”. Simply contact us for more information, licensing opportunities and more…

Note: these technologies may form the basis of new Astute Graphics tools and approaches to the vector design workflow in the future. Please stay informed using our social feeds at the very foot of this page and blog posts.

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