Vector App


Project : Vector Variations

Proposer:  Edwin Blake 

Abbreviation:  mobivect 

Brief Description: Vector art creator for entry-level smartphones

This project concerns different ways of tackling the problem of producing vector drawings on a smartphone. It is related to our “A mobile visual design application for entry-level smartphones” (mobivisapp) project but focuses exclusively on different ways of tackling the important issue of creating vector illustrations. Our recent research show how young people from resource-constrained settings are increasingly using their mobile phones to create and share visual creations – combining elements from their mobile cameras, free in-phone editors, type, and clip art libraries.  These young people are finely negotiating the limited capabilities of mobile phones for the purposes of self-expression.

The approaches can be quite independent parts of the project and include:

  • drawing directly on HTML5 canvas with a command line type interface
  • taking a photo of a paper drawing and tracing over it
  • Drawing directly on an interactive phone app

Option 1 can also be supported by drawing tools. The advantage with this option is that it is a web-based approach, which removes platform dependencies.

For Option 2 you will design and build an application for an entry-level smart phone that allows users to transform mobile phone photographs of drawn elements into editable vector objects.

Option 3 (and perhaps 2) will require a pointing device linked to the phone (such as a Bluetooth mouse).

Further common requirements for the options listed above include:

  • A tool which can effectively “cut out” illustrations and add transparent background, for the purposes of overlaying these in other compositions.
  • A selection of editing tools for vector fine-tuning: isolating and editing curves or lines; dragging anchors and using control handles, rotate and scale
  • Exporting these vector elements into library sets

This is part of a larger Nokia research initiative for visual design on mobile, exceptional work may be taken further or considered for inclusion in publication.

  • Computer Science Content:  This project falls in the ICT4D sphere where the challenges are both technical and HCI related. Technically the challenge is to make responsive apps for things like vector drawing and image manipulation on a phone. There are also HCI issues related to design and usability of the mobile interface.
  • Specific Learning Outcomes:  mobile programming and performance measurement, visual design.  In this project user experiments are optional and heuristic (expert) evaluations may suffice.
  • Skills Required by Team as a Whole:  This project requires a diverse team with both mobile programming and HCI skills
  • Theory:  Android, or HTML and javacript, Programming; Visualization and 2D graphics; HCI; Experience in vector drawing and graphic design is a plus
  • Implementation:  This project will include mobile programming and some graphic design concepts that might be unfamiliar. Assistance will be available.
  • OTHER: Similar software might exist for more sophisticated hardware, the challenge is to simplify these and present an appropriate interface for a lower-end mobile device and mobile-primary end-user
  • Facilities needed:  Android mobile phones, access to users,
  • Supervision:   You will join in activities of the interdisciplinary ICT4D centre. You will have access to mobile programming expertise and will be co-supervised by Dr Marion Walton (Media Studies) and Anja Venter (PhD student and experienced graphic designer).  Please see for more details.
  • Number of Students:  2 or 3 (4 possible depending on the scope tackled)




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