Friday, November 05, 2004

Oekaki article

Oodles of Doodles

Do you want to show your drawing talent online but have limited resources like scanners, graphics tablet and such? Have no worry; you can do so without too much difficulty, not with Oekaki BBS and Paint BBS around.

"Oekaki" is the Japanese word for "doodle," and the Oekaki BBS/ Paint BBS gives you the freedom to do just that. Both program are online painting applets where artists can draw and post their work online. Others can view these works and post comments. Think of a marriage between MSPaint and online message board... hence the name.

These two programs are said to be created by two different groups of Japanese programmers, but as to who they are exactly, my research has been unable to locate them. The programs were then translated from the original language and became immensely popular among the English speaking Internet community.

In the original Oekaki, anybody could simply start drawing and posting, which can cause problems if there are spammers because of the lack of security. Thanks to Theo Chakkapark and Marcello, Oekaki BBS was developed and updated to a more secure program, known as OekakiPoteto. Here, users would register with a specific board, then doodle to their heart’s content without worry that their work will be hacked, plagiarized or vandalized. Theo is the main coder for OekakiPoteto, while Marcello has written the parsing code for the OekakiBBS and PaintBBS applets, as well as the PaintBBS "hack" to allow users to edit their work. Updates include ban script used in OekakiPoteto to keep the spammers away, as well as development space and bug reports to those who host OekakiPoteto on their sites.

Oekaki is a server-based program so you can't use it on your home PC. It makes use of SQL (means Standard Query Language which is used to request information from a database) and PHP (an HTML scripting language used to create dynamic webpages) since OekakiBBS is constantly changing and updating, images, text and otherwise.

OekakiPoteto is quite popular among the anime community online. I came across several sites that showcase artwork of all kinds using this medium. I was able to make some of my own art with Oekaki, and it's no easy feat especially when I'm using a mouse and not a graphics tablet or a light pen. But it's a pretty nifty way to improve your skills on digital imaging, and since it's an online message board, you can get criticisms about your work (constructive or otherwise, depending how you take it).

There are several variations of the program available. For both the Oekaki and Paint BBS there’s the Animation function where each action done is automatically “recorded” for playback. You can then view a picture as it was created in animation style. For PaintBBS, there’s a “Palette” function where you can choose colors based on pre-created palettes. Personally, I prefer Paint BBS because it has more colors available on hand the controls are easier to get the hang of. With Oekaki however, it allows you to create multiple layers like in Photoshop.

Oekaki and Paint BBS is a fun way to explore your artistic talent. Downside is that it takes some time to load the work area, and changes take a few seconds to refresh on the screen. For users with no graphics tablets or light pen, it gets tiring to use the mouse to draw especially if one would like to work on detailed art. However, if you’re looking for good fun online and are in the mood for viewing art, this is for you.

Oekaki tutorial:
Paint tutorial:

(Article sample for Culture Crash)

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