MS Paint may be beloved but it's also the butt of plenty of jokes about art skill. Project Gustav is Microsoft Research's answer: A GPU-intense multitouch and Wacom-tablet-friendly natural painting program, giving artists a genuine old-school experience, in 3D.
Sure, there are geniuses - ;including possibly one or two on our staff - who can make masterpieces with Illustrator and Photoshop. But the logic of Gustav, named after Klimt and Courbet, is that the training required to get good at those apps limits artists trained in traditional physical media. What this does is re-create the analogy of real oils and pastels, not just in how they stream but in how the colours blend. In fact, to make a new colour, you do what you'd do in the real world, blend your paints together. You can use pens on a Wacom, twisting flat brushes them to achieve swirls and calligraphic flourishes. But you can also reach up to draw on the multitouch screen, the little HP screen shown in the pic.
I am not much of a visual artist, but for a research project, this is a gorgeous execution of a very natural experience. I didn't want to pull away from my own hideous oil, so God knows what a budding Leonardo could do. Bye bye, MS Paint. It's been, uh, swell. [Project Gustav]