Our Story


Our story begins a long, long time ago when we first started making iPhone games. Well, actually, it begins much earlier than that, but that's somewhat beside the point at the moment. So, when we started making and, in particular, designing iPhone games, we quickly began realizing just how limited our design tool of choice, Adobe Photoshop, really is, and how mucht time we waste constantly redoing things.

You see, design is a highly iterative process. You design something, take a thorough look at it, see how it fits with other parts, tweak it again, and so on. Or, alternatively, the lead designer comes back to you and says that this or that needs to be blue instead of yellow, or have rounded corners instead of sharp ones. And yet Photoshop provides very little ability to go back and change things you have done in the past without having to redo all, or at least some, of the subsequent steps.

Speaking of corners, one of the simplest real-world examples we ran into is this: making a speech balloon. Start, as is proper, with a rounded-corner vector rectangle, add three new points to the bottom edge, and drag the middle one down. Voila, done! But now you realize that the rounded corners you started with are far too large, and you want to reduce them slightly - and you also realize you're out of luck, and have to basically start from scratch.

The above is a very, very simple example. Now imagine a much longer sequence of steps and you realize how tedious the whole process can be. Add to this a multitude of very small, but extremely annoying-if-you-hit-them bugs, such as incorrect layer visibility undos, extreme auto-scrolling jumps when trying to make a selection while zoomed in, no easy way to organize multiple windows conveniently, and on, and on, and on, and you realize just how sub-optimal the whole experience is and how much time is wasted in the process.

So, as true creators, we thought: "How about we do our own?". Image if there was a fast, light-weight, cross-platform image editor which could let you tweak any action you have ever done in a document, including shapes, brush strokes, mask operations - all neatly organized per layer. On top of that, what if it actually addressed artists' real-world workflow and usability bugs and inconveniences, and was further boosted with hardware-accelerated UI and core algorithms?

...And that's exactly what we're working on. You can check out its status, take a look at more features or read about who we are and what we've done in the past.

There's just one more question left to address, then - "What's 'Ormr'? Also, why?" Despite what you may have initially thought, 'Ormr' is not a meaningless arrangement of letters. In Old Norse (think: Vikings!) it means "European dragon", which we thought would make for nice maskot who guides you as you use our editor and intelligently works with you and for you, reducing as much manual labour as it can wherever it can. Hence the little red dragon in our logo - he is that very same Ormr.

Lovestruck image created by Chris Tohill

Ormr is a fast, light-weight, cross-platform and hardware-accelerated

image editor that lets you tweak any action you have ever performed

in the past on an image - organized by layer.

No more manually redoing subsequent steps after making a change or keeping "spare" layers just in case you need to go back to a particular point in time - you can always do so with Ormr, and it'll redo all the manual work for you automatically. It also runs on both Mac & PCs, imports and exports to almost any format imaginable, and has a fast, GPU-accelerated UI designed by artists, for artists. And we're working as hard as we can to get a beta into your hands so you can play with it as soon as possible.

Editable History


Ormr lets you adjust every action you've performed in the past - organized separately per layer. And when you do decide to jump back and change something, you will never, ever have to redo anything that came after it again - Ormr will do it for you automatically.

Blazing UI


You don't realize just how slow your current editor's interface is. Trust us. Once you see how the user interface painstakingly optimized to run at 60 frames per second on an iPhone 3G runs when installed on a modern, powerful computer, you'll never look at other interfaces the same way again.

Mac & PC


We recognize the fact that different people prefer different kinds of computers - and that's why we're making Ormr run on both Macs and PCs. In fact, we'll go even further - once you purchase Ormr on one platform, you automatically get a copy of it on another, so you're free to work on whatever system you prefer. Or on both.



As artists ourselves, we know how important it is to be able to work together with others using wildly different formats and even operating systems. That's why we're building Ormr to import and export any format imaginable - including Photoshop PSD, RAW files for various cameras, and, of course, JPG, PNG, TIFF, and a host of other formats to boot.



Our blazingly fast user interface isn't the only thing that takes advantage of your graphics card's inner power. We're also using it to speed up lots of places where you manipulate images. This means that Ormr runs fast on any computer, even on low-powered notebooks - if that's your thing for graphics design work, of course.



Below are some of the initial drafts of what the interface generally looks like. Note that these will likely change, to some degree, as we refine the look and feel in further testing.

New rectangle operator. Notice the adjustable sliders.
Lovestruck image created by Chris Tohill.

Import/open file operator. Note the ability to automatically reload the file from disk if it changes and the ability to change which file is loaded at any point in time.



September 9, 2012
We currently have a very early working pre-alpha prototype which we are continuing to improve as fast as we can. Because of its preliminary status, we cannot currently share this version with you (as much as we want to). But worry not - just as soon as we have something we can give you that you can actually play with, we'll have a download link for beta-testers posted right in this section.

September 7, 2012
Ormr website launches.
Why Ormr Matters

It's the first major advance in image-editing workflow since layers were first introduced in 1994, and it can save artists countless hours of manual, creativity-destroying repetitive work and frustration. Don't believe us? Try this: open your favorite editor, make a rounded-corner vector rectangle, add three roughly equally-spaced points to the bottom edge, and drag the middle one down. Congratulations, you've just made a speech balloon!

Now you realize that the corners are too large/too small/the-creative-director- comes-knocking. You need to change them. Can you do it without redoing the subsequent work? Ormr can. In Ormr, you simply click on the original rectangle operation you've performed, and drag a slider with the corner radius to adjust it. Ormr will remember that you've added points afterwards and how you manipulated them, and will redo all the work for you - instantly, and with no effort on your part. And it keeps this information neatly organized by layer, too, so it's easy to work with.

All Design Is Iterative

Think the above is an isolated case? Have you ever kept “spare” layers in your favorite editor, just in case you needed to go back to them? Or saved multiple copies of the same file at different design stages? The truth is, this kind of thing happens all the time, be it selection (think of sharpening only a portion of the photo, such as the eyes - and then wanting to change that region after the selection has been lost), brush strokes, creating new shapes or adjusting colors - most of these are hard or impossible to change once they've been performed.

All design is iterative, and all artists constantly go back and tweak, adjust, reposition their elements to get the look just perfectly right. And often, that's really hard to do with the existing tools.

Being, in part, artists ourselves, we want to change that. In fact, we think Ormr is a revolutionary advancement - one that has the potential to change the entire industry. By backing our project, you can be a part of this change, and make countless artists' lives easier and more creative in the process.

But What About...

...Adjustment layers? Aren't they exactly it? Well, they attempt to go in the same general direction, but fall quite short of the ultimate goal. There are multiple problems with adjustment layers:
  • They represent only a very limited selection of the types actions you can do; the moment you want to perform even a single action that is not on the menu, the whole workflow breaks down, and you can't go back past that step and adjust something without redoing more work manually.

  • They apply to the whole image. Yes, you can add a mask to them. Manually. This becomes a huge problem if you're dealing with more than a couple layers. And if the layer shape changes? You need to redo that mask again.

  • They're a hack, resulting in sub-optimal workflow. Adjustment layers were added as a half-way measure to kind of add the ability to go back and tweak things, but without actually changing the entire application to properly support this kind of idea everywhere. Since we're starting with no legacy code or legacy design, we can re-think this and create a more streamlined, efficient, and intuitive experience.

  • You can't use adjustment layers on masks themselves. Ormr, meanwhile, will automatically keep all the actions you've done, per mask and per layer.

How It Works

On the surface, Ormr looks and feels mostly very similar to existing image editors - anyone familiar with them would be immediately able to use it. However, if you look closer, you'll notice that each layer can be expanded to show several rows of blocks below it. These rows are every action you have ever done on this particular layer, arranged chronologically, and they are further organized by their intended target - one row each for layer mask actions, layer effects actions, and main layer image.

Any one block represents a single operation, such as creating a new rectangle or rotating the layer, and any one may be selected and its controls manipulated to change the effect of the action. As you adjust a block's settings, Ormr will update the image in real time to reflect all changed currently applied to it.

When not in use, these blocks can be hidden to maximize the space available for layers.

Final Thoughts

So, given all of the above, we think we really have a unique idea that may revolutionize the design industry and make the lives of countless artists, designers, and photographers much easier and more creative. We also have the experience and the knowledge to bring it to life.

All we're missing is your support. We're coming up with more ways for you to help Ormr grow, but for now, helping us is as easy as simply spreading the word about Ormr - mention it to anyone who you think might be interested, and if the artists, designers, and photographers agree that this is what they want, we're sure Ormr will become a reality very soon!