Drawchemy, Android app for sketching, pays tribute to Alchemy

Drawchemy, Android app for sketching, pays tribute to Alchemy

Patrick Pilmeyer released the first public version of Drawchemy, a free/libre sketching app for Android, heavily inspired by Alchemy.

The original application, Alchemy, was once upon a time the darling of Linux-based artists such as David Revoy thanks to certain features that made sketching a bliss — think drawing with mirror symmetry.

In fact, the new app provides both horizontal and vertical symmetry modes and several painting tools with configurable settings: Line, Scraw, Ribbon, Splatter, and XShape. There are some additional settings such as color (you can switch between any two defined in HSB color model), opacity, and stroke width. The app works on a phone like Nexus 4, but you won't do it justice until you run it on a tablet, really.

Drawchemy on Nexus 4

Regarding the origin of the project Patrick says:

I like to paint on computer, and I use open source drawing programs. Two months ago, I decided to make an Android "version" of Alchemy as a learning project. In the end, it was more than that. I released my application with the name of Drawchemy this week-end on the Google Play. I published my code under GPLv3 license. I also made a tumblr of what I did with it.

Various ideas from Alchemy have already made their way to apps like Krita, so it’s not the first time bits of the original application resurface elsewhere. Why?

It's a well-known fact that people tend to use software in unpredictable ways, far from what developers originally had in mind. Alchemy embraced that simple truth with both hands and, quite possibly, with both legs as well. Thanks to a plugin system anyone could come up with a new module to create or modify shapes. Which people did — including arcane modules like using the sound from a mic input to affect drawing.

Here David Revoy demonstrates a more conventional approach to sketching with Alchemy:

It feels weird to talk about Alchemy in the past tense, especially since the latest contributed module, Triangles Create, is merely half a year old. However, the last release was made in 2010, latest changes in the source code repository are from 2012, and the forum is plagued by spammers of kitchenware persuasion. The situation wasn't exactly much better in 2012, shortly after we interviewed Crowline, lead developer of the project at the time.

Since Alchemy is written in Java, porting it to Android in its entirety might prove to be just about doable. But that looks like a major undertaking, while creating new apps that provide some of Alchemy's features seems easy enough to do.

Drawchemy is, in fact, not the first Android app that reuses ideas from Alchemy. Another project, Webchemy, was first released by Benjamin Vetter as a web app in 2012, then as an Android application earlier this year. The source code is also open and available on GitHub.

Whether Alchemy will eventually get a second chance, remains to be seen. For now, you have two of its offsprings to explore on that shiny gadget you keep carrying around.

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4 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. I tried the app a couple of days ago and my personal opinion is it has bright future. It was not that complicated to work with in the beginning as I thought. Also I find it really intriguing and useful at the same time. Let’s see what reactions will follow.

  2. Also tried, good application. But you must try Facetune android application. Make sketches or anything you want with android.

  3. It’s an amazing application, though it needs more brushes :) looking forward to seeing more versions with more features! :)