[Microsoft Expression Graphics Designer]
In 2003, Microsoft acquired a small company named Creature House which had invented and patented a technology they called 'skeletal strokes', an amazing vector graphics technology capable of creating artwork that looked like it was done in natural media (pencil, watercolor, oils,...) while retaining the ability to edit and change the properties of all of the strokes that the artist had used to create the artwork. With this technology, Creature House created a powerful graphics application called Expression that was a joy to use. Expression 3 is available for free here.

This program and the skeletal stroke technology formed the basis of what has evolved into Microsoft Expression DesignTM. It combines some of the cool vector graphics capabilities of Expression 3 with the ability to save pictures in XAML so that they can be incorporated as graphical front-ends into new Microsoft applications.

I've been using Expression since it was first released by Creature House. It takes a while to understand what this program is capable of, but once you start defining your own skeletal strokes, bitmap strokes, fill patterns and fringes you'll find there's nothing else quite like it.

Much of the computer graphics artwork on this site, including the Secret Agent Girlfriend animation were created using CreatureHouse Expression 3, as were many of the images in the Gallery.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's is primarily interested in using the technology it obtained from Creature House as a way to develop application GUIs, not images. It also has done nothing with one of the most interesting and promising products that Creature House was working on - LivingCels. LivingCels applied the skeletal strokes technology to animation, enabling the creation of 'natural media' animation features. Some very cool technology. A real shame that Microsoft's locked it up and thrown away the key.

I hope you find the .xpr files, strokes and reflection maps below helpful. Hopefully they'll provide a glimmer of what is possible using this technology. As far as I know, they should still be usable within Microsoft Expression DesignTM;.

Microsoft Expression Design Tutorials

  Creating an Aqua / Gel-look Sphere using Microsoft Expression Design  

Creature House Expression 3 Tutorials

  Using Photos to Texture Background Fills

Blog Posts

  Bitmap Strokes - Sample the world with your digital camera and paint with digital images



Expression Strokes and .xpr Files
(free for personal, non commercial use)

.design files

 
 
Tutorial
aqua_yield.design
 
sphere_tutorial.xaml
aqua_yield.xaml

.xpr files

 
 
sphere.xpr
glowbar.xpr
aqua_yield.xpr
 
 
Laptop.xpr
lightbulb.xpr
Speaker.xpr
headphones.xpr
Butterfly.xpr

Natural Media Bitmap Strokes

 
 
PENCILSTROKE.sks

Repeating Strokes

 
 
 
FILMSTRIP_REPEATING.sks
KEYBOARD.sks
PHONECORD.sks

Skeletal Strokes

 
 
BCSOFTEDGEFELTTIP.sks
(E3 only)
BCFADEOUT.sks
 
RAINBOW.sks
(E3 only)
SPEEDBLUR.sks
 
Clouds_ReflectionMapStroke.sks
(E3 only)

Bitmap strokes

 
 
REDCHRYSHORIZ1.sks
REDCHRYSHORIZ2.sks
REDCHRYSVERT1.sks
REDCHRYSVERT2.sks
 
 
WHITEFLOWERNIB2.sks
WHITEFLOWERNIB3.sks
WHITEFLOWERNIB_
TRANSPARENT.sks
WHITEFLOWER_WITH_
GREYOVERLAY.sks
GLOWBAR.sks
 
 
AGOUTI.sks
AGOUTICONTRASTENHNCD.sks
AGOUTIHORIZ.sks
AGOUTITRANSPARENT.sks
AGOUTITRANSPHORIZ.sks

Reflection Maps (E3 only)

 
 
Leather_smallBlack.TIF
Vinyl_smallBlack.TIF
ScuffedLeather_smallBlack.tif
(more coming soon...)


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Copyright© Brian Cruickshank 2002-2011
All graphics, photographs, drawings, animation and music on this site are copyrighted to Brian Cruickshank except as noted here and are downloadable for personal non-commercial use only.

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