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February 19, 2013

Creativity in Windows 8 with Fresh Paint

I’m posting this on behalf of my colleague Aaron Coldiron, a group manager on the Fresh Paint Team. – Brandon

What is the future of art in the digital age? That’s one of the questions that we’ve been inspired by as we’ve worked to develop a new experience around creativity that has blossomed into Fresh Paint – a Windows 8 painting app. On that journey to help reimagine what painting could be, many of you have tested and tried Fresh Paint; in fact, Fresh Paint has been downloaded over 1 million times. Your input has been critical to the app. Thank you. I wanted to take a moment and reflect on where we’ve been, share some of what we’ve heard from fans, and ask for your imagination to help envision what is next for Fresh Paint.

painting close up-small

The highly realistic oil paints have been one of the most loved features of Fresh Paint.

Our app comes from humble beginnings in Microsoft Research (MSR) with a small project tasked with envisioning how digital painting could model the real world. Steve Clayton does an excellent job of covering the history of the journey from MSR to a prototype in the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, to Windows 8. We’ve been really excited to see the passion around the app. We’ve always believed that people already are creative, and that our job was to provide a simple, fun, magical experience that helps people unleash their inner creativity.

We love the paintings being shared by our fans and the feedback around new ideas and features that can make the Fresh Paint experience even better. As part of this dialogue with our fans, we are often asked to share more about the fun features in the app that may not be obvious the first time you try Fresh Paint. I wanted to take a minute and do that.

Templates and Coloring Pages

As you might already know, the Fresh Paint app contains multiple content packs to help you get started. These range from easy coloring pages for kids, to more complex templates to help you paint your first masterpiece. All of the templates are reusable so you can enjoy them over and over. Let’s take a look at a couple of these that are particularly special.

One of our newest content packs is the Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo Pack. It includes 22 images that were created by Disney animators specifically for Fresh Paint. You’ll notice that many of these include pre-shaded areas, as well as persistent white layers in things like the eyes of the fish. These help make it easy for you to create a great looking piece. We’ve also custom matched the paint palette to give you the main colors you need, so you can create a masterpiece just like a Disney animator.


Disney•Pixar created a series of custom art for the Finding Nemo Pack, including this template Disney animators painted using Fresh Paint.

Another new pack is the Creative Pack, which was specifically designed as a grown-up paint-by-numbers. We provide the rough outline and a sample picture from multiple viewpoints to help you create your masterpiece. To create one of these paintings, like the boat below, use the eye dropped tool to capture the right colors. To access the eye dropper, swipe down or right click at the top of your screen, and select the eye dropper icon. A target will now appear in the center of your screen. Drag that target to the color you want to copy, and once it is highlighted tap away from it. The color is now selected on your brush, and you are ready to paint. You can use this tool over and over to get just the right color shades from the original into your painting.


Painting templates make it easy to get started and improve your skill. Use the eye dropper to copy colors from the reference photos on the left.


One of our favorite features is the ability to import an image, and transform it into wet paint, which you can then smudge and blend to turn into a beautiful painting. This is a great way to make an amazing painting in minutes. All you need to do is click the Image or Camera button on the bottom toolbar, select the photo you want to use, and position the selected image on your canvas. The image is then transformed into wet paint which you can then add texture to with a brush. Give it a try. You’ll love it, and your friends will think you are the next Van Gogh!

Face on wall SPAZZ

One of the most unique features of Fresh Paint is that photos can be imported and turned into oil paintings, or as artist “SPAZZ” Mike Echlin is showing here, painted right on top of.

In our work with artists like Iris Scott, we’ve also found that there are some great ways to use this feature beyond just turning a single image into a painting – like using the images themselves as the sources for the colors. Iris shared that she loves inserting multiple images and then using the blending tool to pull an interesting color into her painting. Think of it like being able to grab a photo you like, and then splash the colors from that photo onto your canvas. For instance, imagine you want to paint a picture reminiscent of Thailand. Take several photos from Thailand that have the color palette you like – say photos from a market, insert the photos into your canvas, and then use the colors you care about as the source for your painting.


Iris Scott created this flower painting by using multiple photos to source the vase, flowers, and colors she was looking for.

What’s Next

We’ve heard from many of you that you want tool parity across Windows 8 and Windows RT, and I am pleased to share that our next update will provide the same set of tools and mediums you love across all of your Windows 8 devices. You’ll get the same consistent experience no matter what device you are using.

FreshPaint 16

“Dudeman” Nicholas Sinclair shows the creative mind at work in this piece created in Fresh Paint.

As we envision the future of painting in the digital age we continue to be inspired to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible. And we want to keep hearing from you!

So leave us a comment below and tell us, what are your favorite features now, and what features would you love to see in the future?

And, I know we have the most creative fans in the world, so share your inspiration and see what the community is up to on our Facebook page. Like Fresh Paint on Facebook or follow Fresh Paint on Twitter.

Download Fresh Paint from the Windows Store today!