The Key Aspects We Covered


TangiPaint is a digital painting application that provides the experience of working with real materials such as canvas and oil paint. Using fingers on the touchscreen of an iPad or iPhone, users can lay down strokes of thick, three-dimensional paint on a simulated canvas. Then users can tilt the display screen to see the gloss and relief or “impasto” of the simulated surface, and modify it until they get the appearance they desire. Scene lighting can also be controlled through direct gesture-based interaction. A variety of “paints” with different color and gloss properties and substrates with different textures are available and new ones can be created or imported.

These textures, visual effects, and natural interactions are missing from digital media in the virtual world. The absence of these visual characteristics disconnects users from their content.

Our research looks into simulating these missing pieces and reconnecting users. TangiPaint is an interactive, tangible application for creating and exploring digital media. It gives the experience of working with real materials, such as oil paints and textured canvases, on a digital display. TangiPaint implements natural gestures and allows users to directly interact with their work. The Tangible Display technology allows users to tilt and reorient the device and screen to see the subtle gloss, shadow, and impasto lighting effects of the simulated surface.

To simulate realistic lighting effects we use a Ward BRDF illumination model. This model is implemented as an OpenGL shader program. Our system tracks the texture and relief of a piece of art by saving topographical information. We implement height fields, normal vectors, and parameter maps to store this information. These textures are submitted to the lighting model that renders a final product.

TangiPaint builds on previous work and applications in this area, but is the first to integrate these aspects into a single software application. The system is entirely self-contained and implemented on the iOS platforms. No additional hardware is required and the interface is easy to learn and use.

TangiPaint is a step in the direction of interactive digital art media that looks and behaves like real materials.


App Store / TangiPaint