September 09, 2006

OptiPaint: Paint Digitally With Real Brushes

Ooh, now here’s a cool development: the OptiPaint system promises to let users paint with real brushes, sponges, water, and even their fingers, then have the results appear inside Photoshop. The system consists of a translucent painting surface, tilted slightly towards the user, on which you draw with water while a video camera below captures your movements. ( has a bit more info). [Via Marc Pawliger]
The system is far from cheap ($2495!), and the underlying technology dates back to the mid-80′s. That said, I got to play with one for a few minutes at Photoshop World yesterday, and I was surprised at how gratifying it is to work with real, physical art materials, rather than a mouse, trackpad or stylus. I was struck by a clear sense of “Yeah, this is out things oughtta be.”
OptiPaint makes me want to learn more about systems that offer rich tactile input. Project Sumi-nagashi aims to offer “touchable fluid digital painting,” letting users feel the viscosity of digital paint and the texture of the canvas. The demo video, showing the system’s linear induction motors moving objects on the surface, is a trip. And elsewhere SensAble technologies offers a variety of systems that enable force feedback in 3D space. It all gets my little wheels turning about ways these technologies could dramatically change the way artists work with Photoshop. [Via Nelson Chu]

Posted by John Nack at 8:33 AM on September 09, 2006
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