Image Fun Collage Creator

A real time photo collage experience!

ControlPanel    Frame

My conquer-the-world solution to all my pet peeves of building photo collages.

Tedius and time consuming software (Photoshop, Gimp, Pageplus, Xara, etc.) will be a thing of the past!

Peeve 1   Linear workflow of these programs causes you to repeat all subsequent operations after tweaking something back in history (this is improving with Photoshop’s adjustment layers)

Peeve 2   Images must often be destructivly rasterized before doing any color correction

Peeve 3   Progress bars!  Slow programs!

Peeve 4   Clicking on small widgets, icons, buttons and menus to do everything is tedius

Peeve 5   Working on a collage with my wife puts her to sleep because she is not driving

Peeve 6   Non intuitive user interfaces, common functions hidden under several menu levels

Peeve 7   Images should be sized down and saved before using them in a collage to prevent bogging the program

  Solution 1   All operations are calculated continuously – no going back in undo history to tweak a parameter, then redoing all your work

Solution 2   Original image is used in every operation – no degradation in image quality

Solution 3   Everything is real time – no delays

Solution 4   Dedicated physical controls for each adjustment – your hands are faster than clicking on things with the mouse

Solution 5   Built for two simultaneous users.  User two’s control board can be unplugged for single user operation

Solution 6   Layout of controls is simple and makes sense – changing anything is quick and easy

Solution 7   Drag and drop photos onto window or place them in folder – no need to resize

This system is simple, intuitive and fast allowing you to create a collage 20x faster.  See it in action.

Under the hood

There are two control boards one for each of the two users and they are connected by an electrical cable.  The boards have physical controls for manipulating all aspects of the images in the collage.  These controls are really the of 8 ps2 mice – the old ones before USB mice.  The mice have encoders and buttons galore which make them perfect input devices for Image Fun.  Unlike potentiometers, the encoders have no physical limit, the counts can be summed in software and be zeroed or set to a saved setting.  The mice are interfaced to an Arduino Due.  This was done because of the many interrupts available on the Due were needed to communicate with the mice in an interrupt driven maneer.  The boards connect to your computer via a USB cable.  The board for User 2 can be unplugged from the other board, which tells the system to enter single user mode.  The computer is running a Processing program which reads the mouse data and does all the image manipulation.

Control Board Layout


Each user’s control board has function controls placed in an intuitive layout.  The crop wheels are over the edges of the image show their function.  The color trackball is rolled to remove a color cast.  Images can be quickly rotated 90 degrees or flipped by hitting buttons.  The right hand is normally using the mouse while the left hand tweaks the controls, but the right hand can assist at the control board to adjust multiple parameters at the same time.

How do I use it?

First, you either copy the images you want in your collage to the sketch folder.  You can also just drag and drop images into the program window while it is running.  Upon starting the program, each user has an image “attached” to his mouse; the picture moves with his mouse and can be placed by left clicking.  He can scroll to another image by moving the image select control on his board.  Before placing it, he can rotate, crop any side, flip, resize, adjust color, gamma, brightness, contrast, saturation or apply a mask to the image (and in fact scroll through a variety of masks).  Each control can be locked to prevent accidental tweaking from bumping it.  Images can be picked up by left clicking on them and put back in the queue of unplaced pictures by right clicking.  Each image remembers all adjustment made to it and will keep them even if it is put back in the queue.  Each image is placed on top of previously placed images.  To bring an image to the top, pick it up and then place it.


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