Photoshop For Cats


What started out as a joke in another post becomes a post in itself. C’est la blog.

Here’s my writing routine: Around 9 PM I head downstairs and settle in on the couch in the family room with my laptop. Shortly thereafter I am joined by two 11-week-old Siamese furballs named Sasha and Storm who make themselves at home on my lap and/or laptop like this.

Within 5 minutes they have either been banished for walking on the keyboard, or nibbling the power cord, or they have fallen asleep, thusly.

Perhaps they enjoy the toasty warmth that the PowerBook’s battery gives off. I give them room by sliding the computer down until the laptop is almost a kneetop. This is no problem since I ride a cramped commuter bus to work and am used to working on the laptop in small spaces and at weird angles.

With the shots of the cats, I was going to make a joke about putting ads for Friskies on the blog. Then I thought, do they even make Friskies any more? So I checked if there’s a Friskies.com. Holy crap, is there ever. Turns out Friskies is owned by Purina which is owned by Nestle which owns most of the food in the world. $107 billion in sales in 2006. That’s a lot of Friskies. So they can certainly afford a kickass website for every one of their 6000 products.

On the Friskies site you’re greeted with a big Flash video that is one of the most bizarre animations you’re ever going to see (complete with unwanted music that woke up the cats). We are told to “Unlock A World Of Sensory Delight” while a languid parade of golden chickens, red cows, blue fish, green crabs, and purple turkeys arise from a bowl of Friskies, glide across the screen in a dreamy arc of glitter and bubbles, and vanish behind a curled up corner of the screen. Meanwhile a well-fed tabby, clearly high on catnip, slowly flicks his tail and tracks the animation. If the Beatles had a cat in the studio when they recorded Sgt. Pepper, this is what it would have been like.

But wait, it gets better.

If you follow the parade of cat food under the curled corner, you enter a kitty paradise of rolling meadows, crystalline pools, and a starry blue sky in perpetual sunrise. Damn! Pass the Friskies, man.

There are several Flash-based activities to partake of in kitty paradise. My favorite was Friskies Pix, or as I call it, Photoshop For Cats. There are 5 backgrounds to choose from and five cats you can place into the picture. Or you can upload a pic of your own cat. Or presumably yourself, if you want to romp in the meadow. I didn’t feel quite up to that, so I uploaded a picture of Storm. And as insane as all this is, I have to admit, they have a nifty Flash image editor here.

The UI is suitably cheerful, instantly intuitive, and has layers, and multiple undo/redo.

My biggest question was how are they going to mask the background of my picture so my cat can truly frolic in the digital playground. The answer was they have built a simple clipping path interface that even your nana could use. You just drag the red dots to outline the cat and click when you’re finished.

The mask is softened and applied and it looks not too shabby. Though Storm looks less than impressed by his new surroundings.

Sometime look at the clipping paths in the newspaper. In comparison to this, they look like they were cut out by me in 2nd grade when my scissors were encrusted with dried glue and they weren’t lefties.

My favorite part of the interface is the on-selection contextual tools (for lack of better term). When you click on a cat, it is surrounded by frame with all the tools you can use directly attached. And there’s added comedy with some of the supplied cat pix, where it seems like the kitties are trying to click the tools and edit themselves. This guy’s trying to rotate himself.

And this guy seems to be bent on trashing himself. I guess paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Now I have no knowledge of what’s in store for Photoshop CS4, but it ought to have something this cool. Maybe a little more subtle and customizable. Think of the millions of trips to the toolbar, menus, or palettes that would be saved. This is contextual menus 2.0, with the potential to be an evolutionary leap in DTP UI. Either that or I got a catnip contact high watching those purple turkeys.

For the record, Storm wasn’t interested in Friskies.com. These days he’s obsessed with Web Analytics.

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5 Responses

  1. Now you’re a real blogger, Mike with the cat content.

  2. It’s trippy – the Friskies site – why is it gone now? I need to complete my masterpiece!!

  3. Gone?! Don’t scare me like that! It still loads when I try it.

  4. It does? It does? Shit. Wait – maybe it’s my computer. I can go to the library! Are you serious, mvrankin- because I am still in the denial stage of mourning the loss of Friskies.com, and maybe you are too. Maybe my pic was too contraversial? All the kitties were raising their paws to the giant kitty dictator with a friskie Hitler mustache and crying digital tears. I was creating a huge Prisoner-style ball with a golden chicken carrying an umbrella when the site went dead for me. I admit I was on there a long time and have a low-grade fever, so maybe I went mad. Or maybe it was the contaminated wheat gluten. But it was the best web site ever. EVER. No prevarications. Are you serious? It still lives for you?? Where are you? Can I come over??!

  5. Annie, you are obviously ahead of your time, and the corporate droids at Nestle-Purina don’t understand your art. Come over anytime. And bring the wheat gluten!

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