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This post is sponsored by Fresh Paint — the canvas for your big ideas.

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Photos and text by Lindsey Johnson.

One thing I’ve always wished I could do is paint. I’ve done my share of finger painting and watercolors, but never anything more than that. Why? I suppose it’s because I’ve been a little intimidated by blank canvases, myriad tubes and jars of paints, and rows of brushes I don’t know how to use. I haven’t really known where to start!

Because painting is a talent I’ve always admired in others and something I’ve wanted to try, I was super curious when I heard about the Fresh Paint app from Microsoft. I tend to be more comfortable with a camera than a paintbrush in my hand, but this app is helping me get my paint on! Fresh Paint is a free app that is optimized for Windows 8 and RT and allows you to confront that blank canvas with confidence — or even turn an existing photograph into a painting. Exciting, right?

But mostly, I found it’s really fun to use!

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I’ve had a wonderful time familiarizing myself with Fresh Paint and creating my own works of art. Here are some of my attempts — promise not to laugh!

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Ladies and Gentlemen, can I just tell you? Fresh Paint is really amazing! It’s as close as you can get to actual painting in a digital application. You can use your fingers, a special stylus/brush, or a mouse. And creating this way allows endless freedom to make all the mistakes and far-out attempts you’d like — because you can blank the canvas at any time!

Honestly, my kids have been just as enamored with Fresh Paint as I have. And total bonus: I love that my kids can paint all they want without the mess. : )

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Let me take you through the super simple process of creating a painting using Fresh Paint — and you could win the tablet featured in this post!

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This is the start menu. You just tap on Fresh Paint to open it up.

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The first screen you see is this. You can swipe across the screen and check out some coloring packs you can add on — they do cost a few dollars. But there’s plenty you can do without the add ons if you just want to experiment.

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To start a new painting, touch the yellow square and it will take you right into a new, blank canvas.

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This is what the screen will look like.  It’s all ready for you to start painting!

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On the right side is the color palette.

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There are some colors ready to go, or you can tap on the color wheel to create a custom color.

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On the left side you find the different tools and mediums — everything from an eraser, dropper and blur tool to a pencil and pastels to different brushes with adjustable widths. So many options to choose from!

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Tapping the Surface icon in the upper left hand corner will bring up a new screen which allows you to select various textured canvases and papers. You can also decide between different color backgrounds as well as an option for selecting a photo background.

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On the bottom right hand corner are other options for creating a blank canvas, taking a new photo with the camera, selecting a saved image, and Save As to save your creation. I’ll get to the part about using a photo in just a minute because that is my favorite part of this app.

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The color palette is fantastic. You can either choose a color that’s already on the palette, or create your own by mixing two or more colors together, or using the customize tool as I mentioned above.

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As you mix colors together, the empty wells fill with the new color you’re creating.

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Also, you’ll notice the brushes all fill up with the color(s) you choose.

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In this picture you can see how the wide brush strokes look with the combination of yellow and blue paints.

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By touching the brush to the water pot on the right side of the palette, the brush is “washed” clean.

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The palette can also be washed clean by touching the bubbly palette icon just above the color wheel.

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Okay, now that we’re familiar with the basics of Fresh Paint, I’m going to show you how to turn a photograph into a painting. For this I’m using a photo of darling Betty Blair from the Red Riding Hood episode of Olive Us.

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I’ll open up a new canvas and decide which textured background I’d like — paper or canvas. Then I tap on the photo icon at the bottom of the screen and it allows me to choose a picture from my photo library.

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Once I’ve chosen the picture, it opens up in the app. I can rotate it or leave it as is and it’s all ready for me to use. To remove the dotted lines, I just tap outside of the picture and it goes away and I’m ready to get painting!

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Now here’s the really cool part: the picture turns to “wet” paint in the app. This means you can choose the size and style of brush you want and create brush strokes using the colors, lines, and shapes from the photograph.

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This picture of Betty has some pretty fine details in it which makes it a little tricky, but I knew it would look fantastic as a little painting and I was up for the challenge. The app allows you to zoom in pretty close (using two fingers and spreading them over the screen) to add in detailed brush strokes.

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Just by touching my stylus to the screen, you can see how the surface of the picture turns to wet paint. Because the paint is still “wet” I can make brush strokes in any direction and the paint follows — just like real paint.

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In this stroke, I went a little too far. No worries — there’s an undo for that!

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If you want to completely erase something, even from the photo background itself, that’s where you’d use the eraser tool. I love this feature! As I was getting acquainted with Fresh Paint, I used Undo quite a bit. : )

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It’s easy to toggle between the paint screen and the tool screen. You just swipe from the left corner and down and the tools will appear. To get back to the paint screen and your project, just touch the screen again. If it’s your first time using the app, it might take a little getting used to.

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It’s kind of difficult to see, but this is my painting about half finished. The left side has been painted and the right side still looks like a photograph.

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You also have another option when turning a photograph into a painting.

Say you had a photograph you wanted to use as a template of sorts and create your own painting on top of it. You wouldn’t want to use the “wet” paint feature for that. Instead use the “dry” paint feature by tapping on the fan on the lower right corner or in the Surface screen. I found drying the paint between steps to be a good thing so I didn’t mess up any areas that I felt were perfect.

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The dropper tool is another great function. If you are familiar with Photoshop, then you are probably already familiar with this tool. Let’s say you wanted to pick a paint color from the photograph or to match an area you’d already painted and were coming back to. Swipe to open the Tool screen and then tap on the dropper. Tap on the picture to close it and the tool will appear on your picture. You can drag it with your finger or the stylus to move it to the area and the specific color you want. If there are a lot of colors showing up in one area, you might want to zoom in first.

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After zooming in and paying special attention to every detail, I turned the entire photograph into a lovely little painting of Betty. Easy as can be! I think it will make a fun gift for the Blair family when they move to their new home.

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Here’s a side by side “before” and “after” so you can compare. What do you think? Would you be up for trying something like this? Very doable, right? Keep reading for a chance to win!

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ASUS RT

Now it’s your turn. One reader will win a Windows 8 ASUS Vivo Tab RT with a keyboard — that’s a $600 value! Plus, the prize includes a digital Sensu paintbrush, valued at $50, and one 12×18 canvas from Canvaspop.com. That’s quite a prize!

To enter, visit Fresh Paint and leave a comment below — I’d love to hear what you’d like to create with this awesome app. The winner will be announced on Friday. Good luck!

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Quiana is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!