Adobe Labs Explores Digital Painting for the Rest of Us

paintcan-300At Adobe Labs, we like to solve real world problems. Over the past few years we’ve created a number of popular tools and filters in Photoshop. Personally, however, while I like to be creative, I’m not great at drawing or painting. So I’m always interested in technologies that help me express my creativity without requiring a lot of time; I don’t want to take classes or have to learn complicated software.

Today we’re previewing one of our latest experiments, PaintCan (now available for iPad in the U.S. on the App Store). PaintCan allows anybody, regardless of skill level, to sit down with their iPad, select a picture, and create a painting within minutes. Powerful brushes adjust themselves to the underlying image, making every stroke look beautiful, so that users can create novel and expressive artworks.

PaintCan explores the space between automatic photo filters (which makes pictures look cool, but isn’t all that personal or fun) and manual art tools. With PaintCan, I really am in control, I decide where to paint, where to reveal details, where to obscure them. The app makes sure that all my paint strokes look great, but I’m still the painter.


PaintCan seems to have dozens of practical uses; Personally, I love downloading beautiful landscapes or still life photos (legally appropriate…) from the Web and then painting my interpretation of them. (I even printed some of my PaintCan artwork on canvas and hung them up at home!) We’ve also seen kids use the application to augment their class projects (pastels, collages, drawings…) and turn them into digital media creations with amazing expressiveness. You might use PaintCan to spruce up a stock image for use on the web, or to create artwork of your friends and family.

And this is where you come in. PaintCan is still in its infancy, and similar to other experiments, we typically test these in a single market before rolling it out to a broader group. We have many exciting ideas about new features to add, or how to simplify it more, but we really want to hear from you: How do you use PaintCan? What do you like about it? What do you want improved? Send us your feedback, your ideas, and your best paintings, to

Happy Painting!

Download PaintCan