Sunday, September 27, 2015

Making the 'Woomi Wins' App - From Crochet to Code

When learning to crochet in 2008, it was confusing and frustrating at first. In 2013, I felt the same way when learning to code. Since we learn best by building a project, I thought about bringing Woomi to interactive life...

An early sketch of Woomi's app.

I imagined Woomi's app to be an adventure story with many interactive pieces. Users would control crazy machines and vehicles as Woomi plotted world conquest with his clones.

Built with Corona SDK
Of the many software development kits to use, I eventually picked Corona SDK because it can build 2D apps that run on both iOS and Android platforms. It's also free

For the next couple of years, I learned to code the way I learned to crochet: by following tutorials, watching YouTube guides, and reading reference docs and forums. The bit of math required was simpler than most crochet patterns. Instead, writing an app was like teaching a young robot: “Do this. Then, if this happens, do this. Or else, do that.”

My mantra throughout: "If teenagers can learn this, so can you!"

Woomi Wins was sparked by a sketch of Woomi's clone-making machine. Here it is, alongside the finalized scene in the app:

 Woomi's crocheting/cloning machine, before and after.

Another early sketch next to the finished scene:

Woomi's IGWOO compound.

*View/download the Woomi Wins sketchbook here (85-page, 21MB PDF file, free)

Woomi Wins was drawn with the same Wacom tablet I've used to draw for print publications since 2004. I also used custom Photoshop brushes that mimic natural media. 

I also made basic sprite animations, which were fun to preview:

A speed bump: the app required three sets of each drawing, to match the resolution of the final device. Also, my 2010 laptop liked to crash a couple of times a day. Remember to backup! The spacebar too stopped working, so I used a clicky-sounding external keyboard.

For the sound effects, I relied on user-contributed sounds from the freesound community. I also recorded sounds with a USB mic and an old iPad:

A photo posted by Howie Woo (@woopix) on

For the Woomi Wins soundtrack, my mom played the harp and piano while I played the theremin:

A photo posted by Howie Woo (@woopix) on

A video posted by Howie Woo (@woopix) on

The final tracks can be heard here:

I used Audacityanother free programto edit all the sounds.

Publishing an app on Apple's App Store and Google Play invites a global audience, but it costs $100US/yr to be an Apple developer, and a $25US one-time-fee to be a Google developer. Both companies also take a 30% commission from each app sold. It's free to be an Amazon developer.


Woomi Wins finally landed in the app stores on September 15, 2015at $1.99USamong the millions of other apps. Woo!

If you download Woomi Wins onto your phone or tablet, I hope you enjoy Woomi's comic, cosmic misadventures! The app was made with love and built to entertain, clear of ads or in-app purchases.

When learning any new craft, confusion and frustration will greet you. Stick to it, and creative joy will greet you too.

Whether crocheting or coding, even basic techniques can lead to detailed designs. And fun stories can be told with those designs.

Thank you for all your supportthen and nowfrom crochet to code! 

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