Craft 2.0: Designing the next version of experiencing creative processes

Hey everyone, we’re far from done iterating on what the ultimate way of getting behind the screen is. In fact, these days we’re outlining the first big overhaul of Craft. This means better loading speed, a nice new layout, easier navigation and new delicious features.

What’s this, a new platform? Why?

We’re in the early stages of Craft 2.0 but want to take you on the journey and would love feedback all along. We’re building this platform to give you learning and inspiration from the creative process of others, so help us so we can help you!

The ultimate platform!

What is the ultimate way of going behind the scenes? Peeling off layers? A full blown documentary? Getting your hands on the original files and artwork? Delivering all these things is why Craft was born. The next version of Craft should point in this direction.

While we can’t build an augmented reality app just yet, the next version will be kapow!

Here’s what we got so far

Handling thousands of images, video and enhanced content like the new audio notes is no trivial task. Here’s some of our considerations.

Dark theme

We want to emphasise the artwork. And a dark theme is the best way to accomplish this. Photoshop does it, Artstation, CGSociety and so forth. And for good reason, it’s easier on the eyes and highlights the artwork without any distractions. So we’re staying dark.

We added some subtle textures to spice things up :)

Sidebar

Currently on Craft you navigate by menus. This is all cool and quite normal, but it takes a click → loading → clicking on a submenu → and then you navigate in a gallery of thumbnails often with subpages. Why not keep the menu in a sidebar that stays and let you navigate by filters. Toggle stuff on/off and let the artwork pop for you. No need to ever leave the page.

Finding projects

Over the next year we expect more than 50 new titles on Craft. So it’ll get increasingly complex to browse projects — at the same time they’ll be divided into genre, type, style, year and so forth.

We came up with two ways so far, both evolving around the original film/game posters.

One is keeping the sidebar layout.

The other is a lightbox that pops up.

Grid with cropped images

A character design and a background art piece might have very different aspect ratios. So you got three choices: 1) Keep their aspect ratio with white space, 2) Keep their aspect ratio in a masonry layout or 3) Crop them into a fixed format.

We are leaning toward the latter. The benefit of this is a clear structure, so it’s easier for the eye to grasp.

Thumbnail size

Now everything’s cropped and in recognisable squares. But how large should these squares be?

We went with about 5 per row on desktop and 1 on mobile, depending on the window size.

Like this you can decipher the motive, differentiate it from the rest and still easily scroll through dozens of images to get to the specific one you’re after.

But how about allowing you as a user to adjust the grid size to your needs?

Then it could look like this by a quick adjustment.

Finding Audio Notes and other Enhanced Content

You’re going to see lots and lots of Audio Notes and other ways of getting closer to the creative process of the creators on Craft. But how to find these “extra” layers of stuff on top of the images and videos?

Should there always be an indication visible?

Or should it appear on hover?

Or even be in a radio button navigation in the sidebar, so they never get to be part of the grid of images and video.

Filters

Now that we’re talking about this type of navigation: filters are gonna be central in the new layout. But what filters do you need? Do you need something different at work when you need references than when you’re casually browsing on your mobile on the sofa after work?

Which of these are important to you?

Project, craft, style, 2d/3d, color, artist, motive, pencil type, software, company, resolution, aspect ratio, year, genre, most popular, most viewed, comment/no comment

And we probably missed a lot. It’ll take us quite some time to tag all the content, so help us find the most useful things to filter artwork by.

Loading time

Uff… this one is gonna be much better. We’re sorry we haven’t had the best loading speed yet. Awful at times. Version 2.0 is planned to be lightning fast (as fast as sorting through thousands of images and videos can be).

We’re gonna create a dynamic loading screen to keep things interesting, with a new piece of artwork every time it loads.

Context

You’re gonna get a powerful feature: Context. An integrated way of peeling off layers of a scene. Navigate easily between concept artwork, pre-layout, rough animation, clean animation and final scene with just a click.

This is made possible as we rebuild a database from ground up where we connect these pieces. From a user’s perspective you see a small menu indicating what types of iterations are available for the scene.

It could also look like this

Comments

Perhaps you didn’t know it, but you can ask the creators on Craft anything. Few have actually taken advantage of this feature, but we believe it has its place. There’s a lot to learn from your peers from a casual chat.

This is how we designed the comment section at this point:

Favourite

A lot of you have requested saving content for later and in albums. Therefore we decided to pursue this idea and start developing it.

Adding a piece to your favourites will be as simple as clicking the favourite icon and choosing an album.

Share-ability

Individual artwork pieces should be shared! We’re considering going Freemium, which means setting all the artwork free and instead providing an awesome range of features in a Premium plan.

With all the artwork free to browse, you can share it with your friends along with your grouped albums.

Wanna help?

If you want to give some feedback, we’d appreciate it big time. In return we’ll create the features you guys ask for and throw in a free $4 source file per feedback comment :)

Let’s build this thing! #ShareYourProcess

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