Hexels – a new art tool in the works

16 Sep

My friend Ken Kopecky surprised me with a new art tool on Wednesday. It’s a tool made for drawing within a hexagon based grid, and we’ve been calling it Hexels (derived from hexagons + pixels). It’s super fun to draw with and we’re adding new features all the time. Yesterday I asked Ken if there was any way he could add pen pressure sensitivity and 10 minutes later BAM! he did it (Ken is incredibly skilled at programming). I’ve made a few things trying to figure out what can be done with the limitation of hexagons. Below are a few pieces based on basic shapes (mostly), and I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Ken recently added an isometric mode (last image). I added glow or soft shading to some of them with Photoshop. I’ll be posting more pieces on Flickr and updating our progress through my intergalactic communicator.

Hexaglow [Hexels + Photoshop for glow]

Galaxy [Hexels only. Used low alpha while drawing this one]

Tri Star [Hexels + Photoshop for glow]

Skull Flag [Hexels]

Hazy ISO Blocks [iso mode in Hexels + Photoshop for soft shading]

Oh yeah, and one of the best parts is that I have my own “.ted” file type now! I always wanted my own file type! My name is 3 letters after all.

5 Responses to “Hexels – a new art tool in the works”

  1. John I.G. September 18, 2011 at 9:57 am #


    • tedmartens September 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      It still needs work, so It could be awhile. I’ll post our progress here or on twitter.

  2. Gary Paluk September 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Since hexels are made of pixels, can a hexagonal brush not be defined in a classic drawing tool, allowing the exact same results only without the need to redesign a drawing tool from the ground up?

    • tedmartens December 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      Short answer is “yes but it would be a pain”.

      You can make a hexagon shaped brush in Photoshop, for example, but you wouldn’t be able to snap each hexagon to a hex-grid like you can in Hexels. You would have to arrange them by hand into that layout and then change the colors of each hexagon by affecting that particular layer or shape. Hexels lets you paint using hexagons that snap to a hex-grid, so arrangement is automatic and changing colors is instant. One thing I like doing in Hexels is setting the brush opacity to 60% and mixing colors. It looks like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedmartens/6152332698/sizes/o/in/set-72157627876275540/ This would take awhile to draw in Ps, but takes a minute or two in Hexels.

      I hope the benefit makes sense. Let me know if it isn’t clear or if I missed something :)

      • Ellie K December 24, 2011 at 12:21 am #

        I wondered the same thing as Gary at first. And I understand exactly what you are saying, why those brushes that draw a line of some shape or object wouldn’t create the same effect as Hexels at all.

        Those shape drawing brushes are fun, and fine sometimes, but they don’t work for your precision look. Not that I have noticed. Snapping to a hex grid is what gives the precision, I guess. It is super tedious, laborious to try to line things up and color by hand.

        Thanks for giving the URL to Flickr so I can see more examples!

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