Microsoft Paint gets 3D; Preview available for download now

Give Microsoft points for accretive messaging: When they decide to tell you what their company is about, they back it up, repeatedly, through an entire cycle of software and hardware releases. For 18 months, there’s been a steady drumbeat from Redmond sending a message that Microsoft wants to empower “people and organizations all over the world” to be as productive as possible. Yesterday’s presentation added another note to the message: Microsoft wants to help you reach your creative potential too, because creativity and productivity go hand-in-hand.

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Microsoft’s rallying cry has been “3D for everyone.” The unlikely standard bearer? An overhauled version of MS Paint, its legendary digital art tool. Hooray nostalgia! But don’t get too wistful: This is not the MS Paint of your childhood. Sure, the fundamentals are there; it’s still dead simple to use, and the things you create with it still look goofy as hell. Paint 3D stays true to the classic app in that it’s a basic editing and creating app but with some noted 21st-century 3D pizzaz. But this is a surprisingly ambitious piece of software. With Paint 3D, Microsoft wants to democratize 3-D creation.

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Microsoft general manager Megan Saunders showed it off onstage yesterday at Microsoft’s big Surface event using a 3D scan of a sandcastle from the stage, positioned into a scene with her daughters, over a beach background. The good news is that you can export your final creations, render in 3D and post to Facebook and even make custom emojis using the new functionality. You can also jump into Pinterest-alike boards from the community and grab bits and bobs to throw into your masterpiece. Same goes for exporting and printing Minecraft creations you’ve made. It looks a little gimmicky, sure, but it’s not like you could have replicated a Jackson Pollock using Microsoft’s earlier painting tools.

The new, 3D-focused Paint will give users the ability to work in three axes using a variety of new tools. There’s a “magic select” tool, which can pull foreground subjects in an image out from their background easily, and a “doodle” feature, which instantly turns any 2D drawings into 3D renders. All the extant 2D brush, pen, and pencil tools will have the ability to interact with 3D objects as well. Microsoft is also planning on adding 3D scanning to all Windows phones, though the timeline for the rollout is unclear.

The way the company sees it, we live in a 3-D world, and our creative output should reflect that. The new Paint 3D app will be available to users as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update that Microsoft claims will be available for free to 400 million Windows 10 users early next year. However it has now made the Paint 3D Preview app available to download from the Microsoft Store. Users will have to be part of the Windows Insider Program to use an early version of the Paint 3D app alongside installing the latest Windows Insiders build (Build 14800 or above) on their systems. The new Paint 3D Preview app will be available to Windows 10 users in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

Alongside, Microsoft also announced Remix 3D which is a hub for connecting with content and creators with over a million 3D objects and models that can be repurposed for creations.

I’d like to know what you think about the huge upgrade to our childhood friend. I still remember drawing Batman in MS Paint on my first computer or even before that in school. Then I learned my PC could be a gaming machine. And said bye bye to paint.

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