Microsoft Fresh Paint – portfolio 1

drawing,portfolio — Danielle on December 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Last week, I spent four days at Toronto Pearson International Airport, sketching on a touchscreen at the Microsoft Windows 8 booth. This gave me enough time to complete a significant body of work – between 6 to 12 illustrations per day, from which I’ve selected a handful of what I feel were the most successful images.

At first I felt a bit nervous about this project – would I be able to adapt my illustration style to the Fresh Paint program? It is a bit of a high-pressure situation to be performing your art in front of a captive audience. Once I started though, it became apparent that this challenge was going to be a lot of fun. Not only do I get to share the booth with a bunch of young, enthusiastic event workers, but at the same time I’m taking a bit of a crash course in digital drawing.

The idea behind Windows 8 is that it’s an operating system you can do a bit of everything on – work or play, as they say. As such, the Fresh Paint application is not a specialist, professional program with an overwhelming plethora of tools and options. It’s a straight-forward, simple toy with two basic options – either pastel or paint. It has a visual interface that is so easy – it was fascinating to watch both children and elderly folks in the airport figure out the program within mere moments.

That said, as a professional illustrator who is used to working with extremely versatile, complex software, adapting to the limitations of Fresh Paint required a shift in attitude. Although the programmers have done a great job creating a simulacrum of wet and dry media, knowing how to use paint doesn’t mean you know how to use Fresh Paint. Like every medium, it requires thought and strategy to use to its best advantage.

Using Fresh Paint is like a game. There are several available effects I can use – how can I combine these effects to create a composition? The canvas is low-resolution and landscape-oriented, which doesn’t adapt well to my usual style of figure illustration – so what is the creative solution to that?

There is this idea that digital art is by its very nature is slick and facile – I don’t believe that it has to be, although of course mine is by virtue of its subject. There is certainly a tendency to perfect and polish an image until it loses all sense of humanity. It is an interesting creative conundrum to attempt to allow an element of wrongness into a digital illustration. The oxymoron of deliberate spontaneity.

So over the course of this project, the concept of the “New Aesthetic” has been on my mind. When creating work using watercolour, part of the art is letting the unpredictability of the materials play a role in the work. Whereas when using a computer program, everything is predictable – brushes are always the same shape and angle, edges react with other edges using the same set of data every time. So the only way to introduce a sense of artificial life into a digital image is to find a glitch in the program, and exploit that glitch in a purposeful way.

At the end of the week, they’re just a bunch of simple, superficial images I’ve created. Yet, I’m quite excited by them. I’m going to be doing another four days, so next week there will be a second portfolio, and maybe some more thoughts, too.


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    1. Those look really great! What a cool opportunity.

      Comment by Kitty N. Wong — December 10 2012 @ 1:04 pm
    2. What a fascinating experience of being out of your normal environment, both physically and artistically. Do you feel that you discovered a “glitch” to exploit yet?

      Comment by Rachel A\ — December 10 2012 @ 1:35 pm
    3. Woah! These are gorgeous, Danielle! All I can manage is stick people :) Great job!

      Comment by Nelia - Style Blog — December 10 2012 @ 3:00 pm
    4. beautiful danielle!

      Comment by miriam — December 10 2012 @ 4:26 pm
    5. Rachel A – the search for artificial life continues! It’s thoughts like this that keep me interested in this project, it’s such a wonderful opportunity to be able to experiment with technique on the job. Part of it is coming up with idea after idea after idea, it’s really interesting to me to see the full progression (34 images so far) and the way it visually documents my thought process and comfort with the program over a set period of time.

      Thanks everyone for the compliments =)

      Comment by Danielle — December 10 2012 @ 9:15 pm
    6. this is fantastic, really well done. Love the ideas! I haven’t tried any of that software yet, but will look into, thanks for sharing!

      Comment by ineta — December 12 2012 @ 6:30 pm
    7. […] the course of eight shifts at the airport using the Fresh Paint application at the Windows 8 booth, I created about 80 illustrations. Some took me just a few minutes, some […]

    8. […] – painting with fingertips instead of holding a drawing tool – something I did for this project. Fingertip drawing requires a different way of thinking which is challenging for anyone. […]

      Pingback by final fashion » click click – 01-04-12 — April 1 2013 @ 4:44 pm

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