New Book and Improvements to our AI

New Book and Improvements to our AI

It's been a while since our last update, so there's a lot to share. First and foremost, our second book, Trip to the Mad Science Museum, is now available. It's about a school trip to a local science museum dedicated to the work of the mad scientist, Dr. Newton. We had a lot of fun making this one. As a kid, I remember really loving the idea of the eccentric mad scientist, and how they come up with crazy new inventions with a twist. These sorts of stories played a big role in my early interest in science and math, so I wanted to create something that might inspire kids to get into science in the same, fun way. 

The process of making this new book, as well as updating the backend code we use to generate the print files, led to numerous additional improvements that have likewise made their way into our first book, Nightlight. The most noticeable of these improvements is the addition of shadows. 

Game developers spend a lot of time working on lighting and shadows. And graphics card manufacturers, such as NVIDIA and AMD, are constantly working to increase the ability of shaders to render these lighting effects faster and more efficiently. The reason: the human brain is not as easily fooled as one might think. If we see and image without shadows on it, it simply doesn't look as believable as one that has them. 

I always knew we would need to add shadows to our books, but I wasn't quite sure how to do it. One option would have been to just add a static dark shadow underneath where kids would be plugged into our books, but after a bit of testing, that just didn't look any more believable than having no shadow at all. The other obvious option is to add a shadow dynamically. I found an excellent tutorial by Becky Kilimnik on how to do this in Photoshop, but I couldn't find any existing libraries in Python to accomplish anything similar programmatically. So I decided to make one myself, which proved to be tricky, but ultimately well worth the effort.

Here are the results on a simple image with a white background.

And here's another example of what it looks like on one of our final pages from Nightlight:

Be sure to check us out today, and sign up for our mailing list if you haven't already We'll be offering nice discounts prior to Black Friday/ Cyber Monday for that that want to order a Slokie book before the holiday rush.


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