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DeviantArt's Muro adds Redraw: instant replay for art

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An update to DeviantArt's Muro web app, called Replay, allows users to watch artworks being composed brushstroke by brushstroke.

deviantart theverge logo
deviantart theverge logo

In August of 2010, online art community DeviantArt released Muro — a free, Javascript- and HTML-based web app that allowed the site’s members to make complex, layered images and share them with the community; all without a hint of Flash. Now, nearly two years and 2.5 million Muro-based "deviations" (drawings) later the company is updating its creation with a new feature called Redraw; something CEO Angelo Sotira believes will do nothing short of "unlock the creative process."

Redraw allows artists to embed re-playable copies of their drawings nearly anywhere on the web, allowing the viewer to see each brushstroke take place. Of course, there are already lots of art screencasts on YouTube, but Muro’s lead developer Mike Dewey is quick to point out that they typically speed up in the wrong way. "If you’re just linearly speeding up the process of drawing, it’s not that fun to watch, because you’re seeing all of the pauses, and then the interesting parts are too fast." In contrast, Redraw knows where to pulls out dead time, and speeds up quick and long strokes to different degrees for the best playback experience, he explains.

"You can technically, literally watch the piece being made, down to every detail."

The Muro embed can be placed on any web page (see below) and will render on any HTML5-compliant browser — we tested it on Safari 5, Chrome 18, and Firefox 10. Viewers that click on the embed are taken to DeviantArt’s site where they can speed up and slow down playback speed. The canvases can also be viewed in what’s called Artist View, which exposes the artist's tool palette, so you can see exactly what’s being clicked and which strokes live on which layer. We can definitely see this being a lot of value to aspiring artists, and watching DeviantArt’s Director of Illustration Forest Stearns throw together the image below in about 40 minutes had us itching to give it a shot.

Because Muro is built using HTML5 it works on an iPad, which we found a lot easier to use than clicking and dragging a mouse around. It also works with your Wacom tablet, and while it isn't going to replace Photoshop, it does offer an impressive array of brushes and effects for you to try out. It's worth pointing out that while Muro is a free web app, like Paper for the iPad, brushes in Muro cost real cash to unlock ($4 a pack). Muro with Redraw is live on DeviantArt right now; we recommend watching The Making of Pepper and Miss Brightside to get started.