Fracture – Cubist iPhone app

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I’m both excited and relieved to announce that my first iPhone app has been approved and is now available in the App Store.

Fracture is the latest in a series of cubism based applications that include Self Portrait? and the WiiMote portrait generator. This time, however, you’re able to paint using your own photos whilst on the move. You can also save them to your image galley.

The basic premise behind cubism is to represent the subject from a range of viewpoints in a 2 dimensional painting. The subject is fragmented and reassembled to provide an abstract 3D form. Aesthetics employed by masters such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque have been studied and recreated in this painting tool. I’ve particularly attempted to recreate the style of the Analytical Cubism movement which was developed between 1908-1912.

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard - Picasso

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard – Picasso

Violin and Candlestick - Braque

Violin and Candlestick – Braque

Fracture was built using openFrameworks. Several members of the OF community, including Memo Akten and Zach Gage collaborated to write the ofxiPhone addon and a wide range of wrapper libraries. This allows OF users to build iPhone and iPad apps without having to learn (much) Objective-C. It was great to able to use my existing skillset and jump straight into iOS development.

I did, however, have to use Objective-C when it came to developing the interface. This was by far my biggest challenge. I found that I couldn’t take advantage of many of the tutorials and standard Apple interface solutions, such as the Navigation View. This was due to the fact that OF projects are set up differently to standard Obj-C projects.

So install it, have a go and please email your best paintings to fracture [at] to be featured in the Fracture Gallery. And if you like it, don’t forget to comment.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Available on the iPhone

***** EDIT – 28/11/10 *****

I’ve been really surprised by the level of interest in Fracture. It has been featured by the following:

Computer Arts magazine
The Creators project
FWA app of the day
App Advice
Design Taxi
Dentsu London

And here’s an interview on Fired By Design.


34 Responses to “Fracture – Cubist iPhone app”

  1. 1 Tony Lukasavage August 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    This is a loosely similar idea to something I was just about to get started on. Very cool and inspirational!

  2. 2 Jason August 31, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Love it. I’ve seen this effect around the net a few times, could you please describe or name the algorithm you used to do this? The aesthetics in the end result are fantastic…I don’t have an iPhone and I’d love to blow the minds of some of my art professors 😉

  3. 3 jamesalliban August 31, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Thanks guys.

    @Tony Good luck with it. Hope I haven’t put you off 🙂

    @Jason All I can tell you is that I used openFrameworks with a few wrapper libraries such as ofxOpenCviPhone and ofxImage.

  4. 4 Surfaraz thakur September 2, 2010 at 3:23 am

    once again awsome stuff… very inspirational stuff…
    keep it up dude… wonder whats your next creation

  5. 5 Irina Kharseeva September 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    James, that is a really wonderful app!
    Love it!

  6. 6 jamesalliban September 9, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Thanks guys. Email me if you make any masterpieces with it. I’ll put your painting in the gallery:

    James in the courtyard
  7. 7 Jason September 14, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Hello, this is a really nice app, are there any plans to allow high res exporting? It would be great to print some creations.


  8. 8 Frank September 14, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Hi there, the app is great and the ‘paintings’ look so good that you’d like to frame them … and one finds out that the app only generates images in tiny resolution ! What’s that about. Even if processing would take longer – this way the images are not usable. You cannot even zoom in on a 3GS screen without having the enlarged pixels jump in your eyes.

  9. 9 jamesalliban September 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks for the feedback guys. Glad you like it.

    This problem is already on the list of features for the next update. I’ll be optimising the code fairly soon which will hopefully allow me to output images at a higher resolution. They should be around 640×960.

  10. 10 Frank September 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I think the larger success of this app will hinge on the resolution. It’s easily understood that the way it’s coded and the speed of the device may set practical limits – however, from a user’s perspective even 640×960 is not very large (yet a great improvement to what it is now). I created some really nice ‘paintings’ with this app but they are not good for printing as is or with the suggested larger 640×960. Too bad.

    One more thing – when you pick e.g. a square image it’s stretched to the canvas with the screen ration. Not good. The photos ratio should not change.

  11. 11 jamesalliban September 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I will be experimenting with increasing the canvas size to 640×960. I believe that’s the highest I’ll be able to go without slowing down the app too much. If I then export higher than this, all I’ll be doing is stretching that 640×960 image. I’d love to see some of your paintings. Send a couple to fracture at augmatic dot co dot uk if you get time.

    With regards to the square image issue, I was aware of this but decided not to fix it for the first release as the vast majority of people will be using images taken on the device. It’s on the to-do list.

  12. 12 Sam DeWitt September 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    If you had higher res output I would get this without hesitation (and I mean MUCH higher than 640×960).

    Perhaps you could give the user an option of “low rez with high speed” and also “high rez with low speed”.

    You might also think about porting this idea to the desktop as a plug-in to photoshop or the like.

    Thanks for your efforts, and I hope this app is a huge success for you.

  13. 13 jamesalliban September 24, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Come on. it’s only 59p 🙂

    Seriously though, as mentioned above. If I make the canvas bigger than that, the application will be very slow and crash a lot.

    The Photoshop or After effects plug-in is a nice idea that a few people have approached me about. This isn’t really my area but if someone else wants to collaborate on this please contact me.

  14. 14 m0j1 October 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    hi james, your works in AR is really interesting . I’m a Flash,Flex developer and I also work with C++ and C# . I had seen AR works and I really liked it but I thought it’s something only huge and wealthy companies can do . but when I saw your works they were fantastic. I really want to learn these works but I don’t know anything about how it works . if you introduce me a source or a site about this kind of work you do that can be start for me in this area I’ll be appreciated .

  15. 15 jamesalliban October 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Hi m0j1

    There are plenty of resources here to get you started:

    And I’ve open sourced a fair few of my FLAR projects here:

    Hope this helps

  16. 16 m0j1 October 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    hi james , me again . thansk for your answer . seems I need to learn a little bit of 3d modelling . I want to know which software you suggest , 3dmax or maya or ? someone at the adobe site was suggested to learn “blender” . but I want to know which one do you suggest .
    thanks again

  17. 17 jamesalliban October 3, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    You don’t necessarily need to learn any 3D software. Many of my applications such as particle beam, AR business card + AR ribbons didn’t make use of 3D models. It was all done in Actionscript. If you do require need to make 3D models, I would suggest Blender as it is free and there is a plug-in that allows you to export AS3 classes.

  18. 18 Bob October 6, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Does mot show up on app store for me. I am in france. Any reason …

  19. 19 jamesalliban October 6, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Not sure. Not had this problem before. Have you tried the app store on iTunes in addition to on your device?

  20. 20 Frank October 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    James, I agree with Sam DeWitt that this app would need a much higher resolution but if that’s not possible, then that’s just what it is.
    Unfortunately with this low resolution the usability does not exceed a plain entertainment level – but would you develop a windows based pc version of your app ? Processing power should not be an issue then. Frank

  21. 21 jamesalliban October 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    As I said to Sam, if I make the canvas bigger than that, the application will be very slow and crash more often.

    I probably won’t be making a desktop version.

  22. 22 Edwin November 1, 2010 at 8:44 am

    just bought the app! having fun!

  23. 23 Juaan November 4, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Hey James, maybe you can leave users do the cubism on low resolution and add an export feature to render a hiRes image.
    So ppl can Play it fast and just take time and resorces if they decide to export it on bigger Resolution.

  24. 24 Saverio Caminiti April 8, 2011 at 9:38 am

    it is several years I have this picasso.swf on my homepage (under the menu).

    Was my work some sort of inspiration to your nice app?
    I would be delighted to know.


  25. 25 jamesalliban April 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    This piece is a continuation of an ongoing investigation into Cubism that started 5-6 years ago:

    Perhaps your work was inspired by one of these 2.

  26. 26 Wong Chung Hang January 25, 2016 at 3:07 am

    Hi James

    May I know if this app is still on shelf for download or it has changed the name? I cannot find it in apps store.


    • 27 James Alliban January 25, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Wong. Yes Fracture is still in the app store. I can run it on my iPhone 5S running iOS 8.1.2. Just search Fracture and it should be the top result.

  27. 28 Maria May 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I bought it…. And nothing happens. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch…..what should I do next?????

    • 29 James Alliban May 8, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      Try restarting your device. If the problem persists you can get a refund through itunes.

  28. 30 Colin January 15, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    I’m trying to download iPad app ” Fracture” but it appears off line.
    Can you advise when available please?

  1. 1 New iPad app: Composite « James Alliban Trackback on August 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm
  2. 2 Noets from Week 4 « New Media Art Trackback on August 18, 2011 at 6:22 am
  3. 3 Fracture for iPhone | DeviceSmarter Trackback on April 29, 2016 at 6:51 pm

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