A New, 3-Dimensional Way Of Drawing

Departments: Computer Science

For all the advances that have been made with computers and digital technology, sketching isn't that much different from what it was during the Renaissance. Julie Dorsey, professor of computer science, has developed a software program designed to change that. 

"It's basically adding a third dimension to drawing," Dorsey said. "Right now, the technology landscape is that you have 2-dimensional drawing and painting systems, and on the other end, you have 3-D models," she said. The program, developed with her software company Mental Canvas, provides the fluidity of sketching with the ability to see the picture from all angles.

"It's a sketch you can move around," she said. Future applications include new ways to make storyboards for filmmakers or building designs for architects.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, she's been working on the program since 2007. As an example of its capabilities, Mental Canvas released this week its first product, "The Other Side in 3D," which reimagines "The Other Side," Istvan Banyai’s wordless print book from 2005. "The Other Side in 3D" presents the book as a new graphical media that preserves the artist’s hand while offering expansive 3D capabilities. It's available as an Apple App Store exclusive. 

"'The Other Side in 3D' represents the first example of the drawing technology and media type we are developing,” Dorsey said.

Read more about the program at the NSF website. 

Mental Canvas is a software start-up company that is developing a new class of graphical-media-design system that lies between today’s 2D digital draw-and-paint systems and 3D computer-aided design/modeling systems. The company’s patent-pending core technology began as a research project led by Dorsey in the Yale Computer Science Department.