This 3-D painting app is the closest thing to holding a real canvas in your hands

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Psykopaint is as close to working on a real painting as you’ll get on your iPad.

There are some incredibly clever examples of people painting masterpieces using their iPad, but a new 3-D painting app called Psykopaint is promising to provide the most authentic painting experience yet.

Psykopaint gives you an astonishing variety of materials and options to work with: ranging from different textures and opacities of paint types, to a selection of papers and canvases, each with their own absorption rates, textures, and amount of grain. You can paint freestyle, or choose to work within an accepted artistic style like Impressionism and Impasto — courtesy of custom brushes that imitate the brushstrokes of artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Gauguin.

In short, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to feeling like a real artist.

Perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that Psykopaint uses 3-D technology to simulate the kind of real-time environmental lighting conditions and visual depth you would have with a physical painting. What this means is that you can stack layers of paint and materials in a way that reflects the light differently depending on how you tilt your iPad. It’s essentially the same as holding a real painting.

A video of Psykopaint in action can be seen below:

The app is downloadable for free from the App Store, requiring an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later. Four additional painting styles — including watercolors, paint brushes, pencil, and paint gun — are available as a $5.99 in-app purchase, while an additional watercolor and bristle brush will set you back $1.99 each.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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