Graphics packages can be terrifying applications. Fire up a program such as a Photoshop and the plethora of options and tools spreads before you is likely to be rather overwhelming. This is even more the case for children, but at the same time, it is only right that they are given the opportunity to experiment with computer-based painting. This is what Paint a Story offers – but there’s more to explore as well.
The idea behind the program is outrageously simple, great fun and wonderfully addictive. This is not an app that is concerned with editing images or providing you with complicated tools – it is as basic as you can imagine, but there is massive scope for creativity.
Grab Your Brushes
This is a creativity tool that has been designed with children in mind, but it is interesting enough to be accessible to a wider range of ages. Paint A Story is about having fun and expressing yourself, and this is done through the medium of an electronic paint brush.
There are numerous apps that can be used to splash virtual paint onto virtual canvas, but Paint A Story has a slight twist. Once your work of art is complete you can have it played back to you so you can watch your own painting come to life before your eyes.
There are absolutely no complicated controls or settings for you, or your child, or get concerned about. Just choose the width of brush you’d like to use, pick a color and get to work.
When you’re done, you’ll be asked to assign a mood to your painting to indicate how you were feeling when you created it.
This is a useful way to track how your artwork changes over time – although the limited tools mean that you’ll probably find it difficult to create a true masterpiece – but it also serves as a means of organizing images.
Indicating your mood serves another purpose as well. It also determines the type of music that accompanies the playback of your painting. Select ‘happy’ and the background music is bright and upbeat; select ‘sad’ and there is a rather more sombre feel to things.
During playback there are familiar video controls available. These can be used to pause and restart the video, as well as adjusting playback speed. As this is a Windows 8 app, the usual sharing options can be used to send your images to others.
If you want to save an image in a different format, or like the idea of taking your ideas further, you can copy a painting to the clipboard so that it can be pasted into another app.
Room For Improvement
While Paint A Story is great fun and is sure to be loved by younger children in particular, there are still a few areas in which the app could be improved. The range of ‘tools’ that’s available is incredibly limited for starters.
All you have to work with is a single paint brush. Sure, you can adjust the width of the brush and choose between a number of different paint colors, but there is not option to work with different brush shapes, experiment with stamps or mix your own colors.
The palette of eight colors is a little restrictive, but it is the kind of palette that younger children will be used to working with in school. Present them with a full Pantone range, and it’s likely that they’ll just clam up and not know where to start.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a very basic and limited app. But it is this basic way of working is perfect for children, and also helps to make it accessible to other people who might otherwise shy away from such a graphics tool.
It will be interesting to see if future updates are used to address some of Paint A Story’s shortcomings, as it would be great to have a few extra tools to work with and perhaps a wider range of music to choose from.
As it stands, this is a simple app that could unlock something in your children and serve as a way to bring your closer as you work together.