Ambient Design is a New Zealand based software development company specialising in the design and development of creative products for a range of users from consumers to professionals. The company was founded after the founders left MetaCreations in January 2000, and since then has worked on a wide range of products from graphical plugins to internet applications and commercial painting software.
Ambient was founded with the intention of creating a strong engineering company that would provide an output for some of the talent available in New Zealand. Since our founding we have worked for a number of international companies providing complete engineering services from design to implementation, but now focus exclusively on our range of ArtRage programs for desktop and mobile devices.
Ambient’s current flagship product is ArtRage, a simple and stylish digital painting product that presents a high technology paint simulation in an easy to use interface that lets anyone play with paint, available across a range of platforms.
Meet our team of experienced developers and designers
The Technical Staff
ArtRage wouldn’t exist without these guys, but apart from some technical answers on the forums, you’ll only know they exist through the fact that, well, ArtRage exists. Every bug fix, every feature, came about because of our programmers.
Andy and Matt are the original Ambient Design founders and the main programmers. If you like it, they probably built it. They spend their days redesigning menus, fixing bugs, and coming up with ways to implement new features. While they have their own specialties, we can’t really tell where they end and ArtRage begins (in fact, there is a theory that the code created them in order to take real world form).
Before founding Ambient Design, they worked for MetaCreations, the developer of Painter, Bryce, and Kai’s Power Tools, and have also worked for Corel, Adobe, Digital Anarchy and Jasc Software. Before that, they developed Deep Paint 3D for Right Hemisphere Ltd.
Andy is the brains behind much of the technology used in Ambient’s products. Most of his work centres on product backbones, renders, imaging systems, and the ‘math stuff’ that the rest of us don’t understand.
In between questing through Witcher on hard mode, Andy invents magical new ways to do cool things in ArtRage. Since he started working in graphics, he’s produced more renderers than we can count, including the original renderers for our early 3D Painting technology, the micro-polygon renderer used in KPT ShapeShifter, the rendering system used to produce our user interfaces, and the paint stroke renderer used in ArtRage. For a bit more about Andy, see his AMA thread on Reddit!
Other technology to his name includes the fibre/hair technology in KPT FiberOptix, the lighting models used in various KPT filters, lighting systems, procedural texture generation systems, realtime software renderers for 3D applications, video recording and processing technology, and of course the backbone of the paint stroke simulation used in ArtRage.
He’s the kind of person who can always pull a technological rabbit out of the hat, particularly when it comes to producing lit, environment mapped, and bump mapped surfaces. Andy also wrote much of the Goblin cross platform toolkit, including the rendering pipeline used to produce the interface, and much of the underlying messaging and event handling code.
Matt handles most of the front end work at Ambient, including interface design and implementation, and managing application architecture and support code.
Matt spends his days designing menus, fixing bugs, and coming up with ways to implement new features. Anywhere there are pixels or visuals required in the company, they get pushed at Matt, who alters them and pushes them right back. Matt has had a hand in the design of most of the products we’ve worked on, and even when the products are designed by external contractors he provides input and feedback on the overall process.
While the backbone work is being done in another room, Matt sits in his studio scribbling on a sketch pad and hacking away in Photoshop before switching to text and whipping up widget definitions and front end code. He’s done design and implementation work on a range of packages including our early work on 3D Painting, Photoshop filters for KPT 5, 6, and Effects, Texture Anarchy’s UI, and of course the interface of ArtRage.
Matt is also our iOS programmer, so he has a lot of fun trying to squash ArtRage’s desktop features down into something that works on an iPad and he occasionally handles the tech support, so you might get him on the other end if you send us an email.
Miriam is our Android programmer.
Imported from Austria, she likes to foster SPCA kittens, and doesn’t like the fact that every Android device out there is different! She also works on various other ArtRage bits and pieces whenever she gets time away from the constant flow of Android changes. She originally started out as an electrical engineer for a couple of years, then decided it was boring and she wanted to be a programmer instead, putting her MSc in Computer Science to use as a Research Engineer at the National University of Singapore. Since then, she took on the challenge of getting ArtRage for Android out into the world and keeping it up to date. We’re not sure if she regrets this yet!
Miriam is the person who gets to troubleshoot and fix every bug in the Android app, and find ways to make all the existing ArtRage features work on a new operating system.
Dave is our in house software quality assurance engineer.
Dave has been part of Ambient Design nearly as long as Andy and Matt, so he’s getting pretty fossilised, but he hasn’t completely merged with the clone mind yet. He is our QA tester so he spends his days finding ways to break ArtRage as much as possible. A kid at heart, he’s extremely talented in breaking things, much to our developers’ dismay. Every new update has to get past him.
Dave joined Ambient from a senior position in a New Zealand technical support outsource company where he managed the support teams for Hewlett Packard printers. Prior to that, he worked in technical support for Microsoft products, and as a hardware technician. Dave used to handle the tech support for Ambient Design, so long term users might remember him pretty well, but we have so many different versions of ArtRage and so many ambitious new features that quality analysis is now a full time job.
Website and Community Staff
It doesn’t matter how amazing ArtRage is if nobody hears about it, can ask questions, or find resources! Uwe, Hannah and Mike handle the website, public relations and community management aspects of Ambient Design, to make sure that everyone knows about ArtRage and can access the resources they need, as well as keeping things running and passing feedback from users back to the programmers.
Hannah is our technical support and community manager.
Hannah handles most of the tech support, website content, and the online community itself. If you’re talking to someone from ArtRage on social media, there’s a 90% chance it’s Hannah. They spend a lot of time hunting down artists for features, keeping an eye on the internets for people who need help, writing up some art tutorials, and answering support emails.
Hannah is also an artist who actually used the program since 2008, long before they joined Ambient Design. They love to draw and painted some of the illustrations for the website.
Mike’s our webguy. He makes the website work properly, keeps it secure and compliant, and makes everything look nice.
Mike spends a lot of time patiently proofreading code, designing these webpages, web tools, managing the database, and making sure the website works properly on everybody’s screen.
Uwe handles our licensing and marketing.
He’s a German expat based in the US and while he’s occasionally active in the ArtRage community on social media, he spends most of his time handling licensing, business partnerships, conventions, press and publishing inquiries, educational sales and other behind the scenes things.
Tycho is the ArtRage mascot. Tycho was a Bengal cat who lived with Matt, but sadly passed away in 2015. He lives on in ArtRage, poking his nose out randomly to check on his adoring fans.
Tycho is a male Bengal cat, born in December 2000. Apparently Bengal cats are meant to love water and be loving and affectionate. Some of that is true… almost. Tycho completely hates water the majority of the time and dislikes walking across even a damp floor. He tends to go to Matt for attention and climb up Andy’s leg whenever he wants someone to play with (which tends to involve the biting of fingers). The rest of us he generally ignores for the most part unless we happen to be holding his favorite toy, a long plastic stick with some feathers on the end. He’s not all that keen on the actual feathers but he tends to like biting the plastic handle. That seems to be a trend for him, as over the years he’s ignored a plethora of cat toys, treats and distractions. He’d much rather bite holes in corrugated cardboard boxes or chase a plastic stick. We probably should have worked out he was going to be a strange cat when at a few months old he hauled a stick he’d found in through the cat door and proceeded to sit and chew it in the lounge.
Tycho’s had a bit of a tendency to stalk the dogs from time to time when he thinks he can get away with it, which has resulted in some very surprised dogs! We don’t think he’s as skillful a hunter as he might like us to believe though as his biggest victory so far has been a bug he found out in the forest. He’s been known to come running in through the cat door with his tail like a bottlebrush when a seagull has flown past overhead. Often he sits inside and watches the Mynahs that land on the railings of the deck and shout at him while he makes little growly noises back at them.
Yes, he’s a weird cat, but he adds a touch of relaxation to Ambient HQ (and is also good at distracting people when they should be working… ).
Digital Art Software
Ambient Design is a New Zealand based software development company specializing in creative tools for artists.
Our work across desktop and mobile platforms focuses on creating natural tools with intuitive interfaces. These let artists from both traditional and digital backgrounds paint without having to learn digital tricks to get realistic results.