Microsoft Files Application on Digital Art Program


Recently, we took a look at some recent Microsoft Xbox patents over at IPWatchdog as a part of our “Companies We Follow” series. In doing our research, we noticed an interesting innovation related to Microsoft’s digital art programs, which is included in most versions of its computer operating systems, such as Windows. This digital paint program includes more dynamic functions for the artist’s palette, such as a more realistic experience involving oil paints and worn-out brushes.

The application is U.S. Patent Application No. 20130326381, which is titled Digital Art Program Interaction and Mechanisms.

Digital applications for creating art have long been found on computing devices. From basic programs that offer the ability to draw straight lines with a mouse, to applications for mobile devices that respond to user touch through a touchscreen, digital art programs on consumer devices have greatly increased in capability during recent years. Today, graphic designers and artists are capable of using computer software to create intricate images that achieve many of the same aesthetic effects of actual paints or other materials.

Although incredibly detailed and life-like images can be fashioned with these programs, the experience of using the program itself is often disconnected from the more traditional artistic experience. For example, on a computer, a paint fill can be layered to suggest different shades, but the software typically applies one shade to a chosen region to produce an even coat, not much like the real-life experience. So, an artist may want to use a program with an interface that more closely resembles a real-life painting experience.

This patent application, filed by Microsoft with the USPTO, would protect a software technology that includes various improvements over previous versions of digital art programs. New features of this program include an artist’s palette which can be programmed to have 30 or more different available shades, and also includes paint wells and mixing areas. These wells can be used to combine paints that are meant to give off qualities of oil paints and watercolor paints together, creating even more effects options.

The palette provides a technology by which the user is able to mix digital “oil” and/or “watercolor” paint on a mixing area of the palette, and view any recent colors in wells, if any, which can be scrolled among via an interactive element.

A user may select a brush from among various brush types by making a tap gesture on one of the many options with a finger or stylus. The user can then insert the brush into a paint well of a given color paint via a suitable gesture. The user may then gesture to paint on the surface with the selected paint color and brush style, with graphics and animation providing the simulation of an actual brush of the selected type applying actual paint to an actual canvas. Selected paint also may be mixed with one or more other colors on the palette as if actual paint was being mixed, to provide for custom colors and color combinations.

Also, when a user applies paint to the canvas with a digital paintbrush, the brush will actually show signs of wear after long use, affecting how the paint is applied. A visual effect which causes the brush to drip paint randomly when held over the canvas is also new to this program.

The palette also includes a brush cleaning cup. The cup may appear animated when the color on the brush disappears into the “liquid.” A palette cleaning element clears the mixing area when selected by a user. The user may expand the palette to show more colors and a larger mixing area.

Claim 1 of this Microsoft patent applications is seeking to protect:

“A system comprising, a digital art program that provides a user interface, the user interface including elements comprising a palette and art tools, the palette including a mixing area and paint wells, the art tools including a plurality of selectable brushes by which a user interacts to add paint from the paint wells to the mixing area and mix the paint into a mixed color paint, and a drawing surface with which the user interacts to add paint from the paint wells via a selected brush, or add paint from the mixing area, or both, to add paint strokes to the drawing surface.”

As yet, this application has not been substantively examined. Stay tuned!

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