Fresh Paint Windows Store app: in equal parts great and frustrating

Now that the initial shock of “where is the Start menu” is wearing off, some of the real issues and points of interest in Windows 8 are coming to the surface (ha!), one of which is what a good Windows Store (also known as Metro) app is meant to look like. Microsoft has not been helped by the fact that most apps in the Store are either simplistic, or poor quality, or both.

In this respect Fresh Paint is worth a look, since it comes from Microsoft and is the outcome of considerable work and research. There is a post about the history of the app on Steve Clayton’s blog which is good reading.

The title cleverly combines the sense of a new approach to Paint, the Windows app from way back, with the fact that this is a simulation of paint (the liquid stuff). I have not found much in the way of documentation, though there is a FAQ here, but even a few moments playing shows that this is a sophisticated painting tool, especially on a tablet where you can paint with a finger or stylus. It works on both x86 and ARM devices such as Surface RT though performance is laggy compared to that on a modern x86 PC, and the pencil and pastel tools are missing.

This is an example of immersive UI. While painting, few tools are visible. As a concession, there are five faint tools at the bottom of the screen for undo, redo, show template, centre artwork, and dry. Right-click or swipe in, and you get tools for selecting the painting tool (pencil, brush or pastel), a colour palette that really is like a palette, with the ability to mix your own colours, an eraser, a dropper tool which I have not fully figured out, and a dry paint tool that picks up wet paint from the canvas.

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Click or tap surface and you can select the canvas type and background colour. The camera button lets you use an image as the background.

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Paintings are saved automatically every five minutes or when you return to the home page. You can also export paintings as .PNG files.

You can zoom in and out using the mouse wheel or pinch gestures.

The app is free, but Microsoft offers paid-for add-in packs which provide templates. You can paint over the template, then use the template tool mentioned above to remove it from the canvas. There is a free Fun Pack to get you started.

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