Viewing Amiga images on a DOS PC without conversion? Let's find out how!

February 4, 2024

Young Topaz has an IFF ILBM image he wants to show his dad, but his dad’s on his PC. Learn about what it takes to write a simple IFF ILBM reader for DOS.


Source Code

IFF Files

PC Development



Sound Effects

Hop to the Top: Bunny's Revenge and IFF ILBM files

October 30, 2023

RobSmithDev released Hop to the Top: Bunny’s Revenge and posted a video about some of the production process. I did some of the graphics for the game, as well as writing the code for the intro. For the graphics, I ended up writing some custom code to automate some of the process, and it was an opportunity to learn about a popular Amiga image format.

My typical process for making art for retro systems is:

  • draw the piece in Krita and export as true color PNG
  • use GNU Image Manipulation Program to convert it to an indexed PNG, cleaning up the pixel art as needed in GIMP
  • use some tool somewhere to turn the indexed PNG into a retro machine friendly format

In the case of the Amiga, I’ve used ArtPRO on the Amiga in the past to convert PNG images to whatever format I needed. With all the art I was making, and potentially remaking, I needed a faster process. ArtPRO is good, but clicking buttons on retro machine software to convert images was going to be too slow.

I was also running into an issue with GIMP not preserving the index order of the color map I had created for the game. I think I had Remove Unused and Duplicate Colors from Colormap enabled which was messing up the color indexes, so be sure to disable that if you’re using a similar process.

Due to this, the resulting color map on the output images was all over the place, so I needed to fix that issue.

I had two approaches I could take:

  • automate the production of a sprite sheet encompassing all of the individual pieces of art and convert it once, fixing the palette issue.
  • convert each piece separately and load them as separate images, finding some other way to speed up the conversion & palette fix.

I chose the latter since I preferred separate image banks to start, over hard-wiring in sprite sheet locations, during initial development.

I decided to write a tool in Ruby that converts indexed color PNG images directly to IFF Interleaved Bitmap (ILBM) files, enforcing the order of the palette. It uses RMagick to load the image, and then implements IFF ILBM writer code to create the Amiga-ready files. It even supports run length encoding compression.

Here’s the source code. It drew heavily from the IFF ILBM reference found here, as well as from a lot of examining IFF ILBM files in hex editors. It only supports images up to 32 colors, so no Extra Half Brite or HAM images. If you end up using it, let me know!

Drawing YOUR REQUESTS on a Quantel Paintbox from the 90s! -- Full Stream

September 5, 2023

I uploaded the full Quantel Paintbox live stream, edited a bit to trim out some stream issues and to correct some audio issues. This was my first time not only recording a Paintbox, but also recording away from home, so there were plenty of issues to work around!

Below are the three pieces I produced during the stream. They came out as Targa files from the Paintbox that I converted to JPEG.

Thanks again to Adrian Wilson for providing me access to the Paintbox and giving me lots on instruction on how to use it. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to paint on it again!

Stream music by Nihilore.

A cartoon rat holding a Quantel RAT

A cartoon rat holding a Quantel RAT, an input device for the Paintbox.

A parody of a TV ad card for a show called Mission Bunpossible

A parody of a TV ad card for a show called Mission Bunpossible. This was a request by Rusty Ralston.

A digital painting of a one-eyed black cat, incorrectly titled as Henry

A drawing of Tyrel's cat Victor. I thought it was Henry. Oops! Sorry, Victor.

Drawing YOUR REQUESTS on a Quantel Paintbox!

August 31, 2023
Anthropomorphic rabbit sitting at Quantel Paintbox announcing that he will draw your requests on September 3rd

I’ve been given access to a V-Series Quantel Paintbox and I want to draw your requests on it! I’ll be on the machine for a few hours, streaming the art production on my PeerTube channel and talking with the Paintbox’s owner, Adrian Wilson, while I draw. Send in your characters, ref sheets, and requests, and I’ll do my best to honor those on this dedicated art machine from the 90s! Don’t make me just draw Topaz and the Amiga custom chip characters over and over, because I will if you don’t send anything in.

Don’t know what a Paintbox is? Watch my latest video to learn more!

Submission Instructions

If you want to submit a drawing request, use the email instructions on the About page to send me your request. Attach or link to any reference images I might need. You must email me your request! Requests made on Mastodon will cause me to point you at these instructions instead.

  • The deadline is Saturday, September 2 at 5pm! Any emails received after then won’t be part of this stream.
  • Requests must be safe for work! I am the sole decider of what that means, and I can work with you beforehand to make it SFW if needed.
  • One request per person, please!
  • Keep attached reference images smaller than 1 MB.
  • I’ll randomize the entries after I’ve sorted through them.
  • I may not get through every entry! If I don’t get to yours, I’ll email you and ask if you’d like me to feature it on a non-Paintbox art stream instead.
  • I’m not going to email you about anything else besides this art stream.
  • I’ll do my best to retrieve the final images off of the machine directly to send to you. If I can’t, you’ll have to settle for a screen capture. Hey, it’s free art from a custom computer from the 90s, whaddaya want?

Digital photo editing a decade before Photoshop? Meet the Quantel Paintbox

August 20, 2023

The popular shorthand for digital photo editing is based on the name of software developed in the 90s. However, that activity was already being done by users of a bespoke art computer developed by a British company in the early 80s, and the public could see the output of this machine everywhere. So why is digital photo manipulation not called “being Paintboxed”?

Thanks to DextersTechLab for actual Paintbox footage and technical assistance, Adrian Wilson for lots of feedback and resources!


Quantel Paintbox Resources