There is nothing quite like an artist’s palette. With this humble piece of paper or wood, the artist can mix infinite pigments, each of which can be dipped into again and again without a second thought.
FiftyThree’s Paper did an incredible job at streamlining the palette for iPad screens. And now, a new project from Adobe Research and University of Toronto may take things a step further. Their Playful Palette lets you mix colors in a stretchy, blended puddle. The effect is downright beautiful. Each color mix is like its own little snapshot of wall-ready abstract art. But crucially, as you work putting colors to the virtual canvas, you automatically save the colors that you’ve already used around the wheel.
In other words, the UI mixes pigment improvisation and digital history in one fast and fluid interface.
That was very much the idea. As researchers explain in the above video, featured on Prosthetic Knowledge, the UI is taking a hybrid approach to physical and digital creation. The palette is intentionally “playful and expressive” without “physical limitations and messiness.” So it’s skeuomorphic, impersonating the way colors blend on a real palette, but only so far as this skeuomorphism is fun and useful to a user. From there, pragmatic options like color history and a traditional color picker kick in to keep your digital workflow accurate and easy.
As with all of Adobe Research’s projects, there’s no promise that we’ll see the technology incorporated into real Adobe products any time soon. But we can dream, can’t we?