Video: Want to explore your inner artist? Try Project Gustav

Fancy yourself as the next Van Gogh, Picasso or Rembrandt? Or how about just something to keep the kids amused on that summer drive to the seaside?

Fancy yourself as the next Van Gogh, Picasso or Rembrandt? Or how about just something to keep the kids amused...

on that summer drive to the seaside? Project Gustav may be just the ticket.

Gustav is a research project in Microsoft's Redmond Research Lab that provides a painterly experience, but without the smell of turpentine and oil. Or mess.

The program, which is now available for download, optimises the use of graphics processing engines in laptops and desktop computers, ideally with a touchscreen or digital tablet and pen, to create realistic painterly effects onscreen.

Artists can use a mix of brushes and media such as oils, pastels, chalk, charcoal and pencil to create digital artworks. They can mix colours on a virtual palette, load the brush and produce a swirl worthy of a Turner or a Monet. This is because the brush changes shape according to how you move it, how much you mixed with it, and how much pressure you apply. And you can even use your fingers.

Zooming in and out of the image is a doddle using say thumb and forefinger, simply sliding the two together or apart on the pressure-sensitive surface.

Microsoft Labs' Bill Baxter, who demonstrated the system, said there was some work going on to adapt Gustav to smartphones. "But that would require recoding," he said. So far some parts of Microsoft's empire have expressed interest in parts of the application, and there are talks under way with OEMs for a commercial version.

But its real future is this: Gustav would be the killer iPad app, say those who saw it at Microsoft's Cambridge Lab. Both Steves, are you listening?



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