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Project Gustav: digital paint looks fierce (and familiar)



Are they cloning a killer crocodile? Building a computer assisted way to look fabulous on the runway? From the name, one might think this Microsoft Research project was a hybrid of both, but in fact, Project Gustav is an attempt at “immersive digital painting”. Looks fierce… and a little familiar.

Per the website:

Project Gustav is a realistic painting-system prototype that enables artists to become immersed in the digital painting experience. It achieves interactivity and realism by leveraging the computing power of modern GPUs, taking full advantage of multitouch and tablet input technology and our novel natural media-modeling and brush-simulation algorithms. Project Gustav is a great example of how Microsoft’s research efforts are leading to exciting new technologies to support creativity.

Sounds fantastic, but looking at the results, I have to wonder what serious advantage this can provide over Artrage, a fantastic paint tool that’s offered realistic color blending and paint and canvas textures for years. Great effort, but aside from multi-touch control, I don’t think it surpasses the bar set by ArtRage 3 Studio Pro, which is available now. Video demos at Gizmodo and the Project Gustav website.



  1. Shogmaster

    03/02/2010 at 3:26 pm

    I’m pretty sure ArtRage doesn’t use pen tilt to simulate how the brush contact the canvas. This seems quite new to me. ArtRage, Painter both have parametric brushes, but are no where as fast as this, nor has the added degree of calculating how brush contacts canvas, and how paint mixes in real life. I’ve read that the next Photoshop is going to tackle the realistic paint mixing, but not the brush thing.

    Also, the GPUs and their finely granulated multithreading nature is heavily leveraged, which is probably a much better processor for manipulating so many pixels parametrically than your dual or even quad core CPUs…

    I hope I get to play with this soon, even though I draw more than I paint.

    • Sumocat

      03/02/2010 at 4:57 pm

      Yes, but I would classify those differences as a matter of hardware limitation. ArtRage has pen tilt and rotation settings but does not rely on the tablet to determine them because they are specific to high-end pen tablets. The same holds for leveraging the GPU. If ArtRage went high-end and narrowed its hardware requirements (beyond those offered on Tablet PCs), it would be Gustav.

  2. Shogmaster

    03/02/2010 at 5:31 pm

    ArtRage is marketed not only to Tablet PCs, so nothing is stopping them from going “high market”. In fact, with the new “Pro” scheme, I think they have already done that, although their pricing is still way more sane then likes of Painter or Photoshop.

    In any case, this Gustav is genuinely doing something new in the pixel painting space so I think it has reason for being beyond “hey, it’s like ArtRage”. ;)

  3. Chad Essley

    03/05/2010 at 4:09 am

    I know someone who would really like to beta test this.. anyone? Microsoft?? Beuller?
    Contact me via my webpage!

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