Microsoft is not a company renown for producing great image related software (Paint anyone?) but sometimes it can surprise. Fresh Paint is a touchscreen and finger friendly painting app that, while clearly aimed at kids, is great fun for anyone looking to get a little creative.
But while this is certainly an app that will be loved by kids, there is a degree of realism to the painting materials that make this worth a look even if you are slightly out of the target age bracket.
Introducing Fresh Paint
Let’s get one thing out of the way straight away: this is not Photoshop… not by any stretch of the imagination. This is a tool to have fun with – nothing more, nothing less. You start off with a blank canvas, and there are a number of tools available to you.
Everything is set out just as if you were working in a studio – a virtual paint box for you to decorate a virtual canvas.
You have seven drawing tools to work with (pencil, chalk, crayon and four different brushes), and the thickness of each of these can be customized as required. In your toolbox you’ll also find an eraser as well as a color picker and a smudge stick.
Paint Your Colors
As you would expect, when you’ve chosen the tool you’d like to work with you can then select a color. But Fresh Paint goes beyond this. You are able to not only select from one of the preset colors, but also use the color picker and even blend your own, just as you would with real paint. This gives you a virtually unlimited palette, and some great effects can be achieved with the smudge option.
What you paint or draw on is just as important as what you paint and draw with. There are a number of different canvases and papers for you to choose from which will give a range of looks to your work, and each can be customized with the color of your choice.
There’s also the option of importing images – these can be photos stored on your hard drive or an image captured from your web cam or built in camera – which can then be painted on directly.
Expanding the App
In-app purchases are generally associated with mobile apps, but now Microsoft is pushing the store for the Windows 8 platform, it should come as little surprise that this is a phenomenon that is creeping into other software as well.
As the store covers both desktop and tablet devices, the fact that desktop users are subject to many of the same things as mobile users was probably inevitable, but it is still something that galls. There is something slightly unappealing about offering apps for free – particularly when they are aimed at children – but then extracting money from users by making reams of premium content available.
Aside from the simple nature of the app, it is browsing through the available add-ons that makes it crystal clear that this is primarily an app for children. Few youngsters browsing through the app will be able to resist the appeal of Finding Nemo and other favorites that are featured in some of the templates.
But not all of the downloadable content costs money. For example, the Fun Pack is available free of charge and includes six ready-drawn images that can be colored in. When the app’s tools have been used to color in the black and white cartoons, the original lines can be removed to leave behind just the art work your child (or you) has created.
Kids will also love the craft projects that are available to purchase. There are templates to make party hats, cards, invitations and much more – all of which can be painted and customized before printing out, cutting and constructing.
In a similarly creative vein, there are a number of packs available that include characters, animals and objects that can be incorporated into works of art or, as the app suggests, used to draw and adventure story.
Strictly speaking this is an app that is best suited to touchscreen devices. There’s nothing to stop you from using on a regular monitor, but it is not quite the same experience – a mouse is not a great tool to get arty with, but you might fare better with a drawing tablet.
But all in all, Fresh Paint is an app that is simply great fun. You might not be able to create a stunning masterpiece – or maybe you can – but you are able to stretch your creative legs, and put paint to canvas without either making a mess or having to learn how to use a complicated piece of software.