Member Sign-In

GOALS | RULES | SPECIAL TOOLS | CONTROLS | SCORING | STRATEGY | DID YOU KNOW? | CREDITS

Game Goals

Try to erase the entire picture before you run out of paint buckets or time.

Game Rules

In Paint Buckets, you are given a picture of exactly 16 colors, in which the "pixels" (blocks of color) are very large.

The main activity in Paint Buckets is pouring colors of paint onto your picture. If you've ever used the Pour Tool (also known as the Flood Fill Tool) in a computer paint program, you already know how this works.

When you pour a color onto a spot in the picture, the color spreads out to fill all adjoining pixels of that color. Any neighboring pixels of the same color thus get "absorbed" into the growing blob (or blobs) of color. Thus, you gradually erase the picture.

bucketAt the start of the game, you have three buckets of each color located along the right side of your game window. You also have three special tools; more about these below. Once you have used all your buckets and special tools the game ends, even if you have time left, and even if you haven't completely erased the picture.

The "% complete" display in the upper left corner shows how much of the picture you've erased. (To be specific, it represents the percent of pixels that are currently the dominant color. If there were more red pixels than any other pixel, red would be the dominant color, and the percent of red pixels would be the percent complete.)

The clock is displayed in the upper right corner. You start out with five minutes. Once you run out of time, the game ends, even if you still have unused paint buckets or special tools.

A note about fairness: Some pictures are harder than others, and not every picture can be completely erased. (All Guest and Warm-Up competition pictures, though, are guaranteed to be fully erasable.) However, everyone within a given competition will be given the same starting image, providing a level playing field.

Special Tools

You have three special tools, which you'll find in the bottom right corner of your game window, below the paint buckets. Each of these tools can only be used once.

bucketThe Balloon creates a splatter of color. The color of that splatter will be the color of the exact pixel on which you drop the balloon.

bucketThe Eyedropper essentially gives you a fourth bucket of whatever color you choose. Once you've chosen a color, the Eyedropper turns into a bucket of that color, which must then be used immediately.

bucketThe Paintbrush draws a line of color between any two pixels in the picture of your choosing. The color of the line will be the color of the starting pixel.

Game Controls

Click a paint bucket to pick it up. Then click a pixel in the picture to drop the paint bucket there. You cannot drop a paint bucket on a pixel of the same color (which is good, because that would just waste the bucket).

To use the Balloon, just click it to pick it up, then click again on any pixel in the picture.

To use the Eyedropper, click to pick it up. Then click on a pixel in the picture to turn the Eyedropper into a paint bucket of that color. Then just use it as you would any other paint bucket.

To use the Paintbrush, click to pick it up. Then click on a pixel in the picture to set the starting point of the line, and also to select the color of the line. Finally, click another pixel in the picture to complete the line.

If you pick up a bucket or special tool and decide you don't want to use it, just right-click to return it for later use.

As you move your mouse cursor over a pixel in the picture, notice that the buckets of that color become highlighted. Similarly, notice that when you move your cursor over a bucket, all the pixels of that color in the picture become highlighted. Or, if your mouse cursor is over a pixel, hit your space bar to highlight all pixels of that color.

If you hold your cursor over a pixel for a moment, you'll see a tiny box appear with a number. This is the number of buckets of that color you have left to use. Similarly, if you hold your cursor over a bucket for a moment, you'll see a tiny box appear with a percentage. This is the percent of pixels in the picture which are that color.

To undo any move, click the Undo button in the bottom center of your game window, or right-click your mouse, or hit your Backspace key.

Type "M", or click the check box at the bottom of your game window, to turn the background music on or off.

Game Scoring

Your base score is based on how much of the picture you erased. You receive 20 points for each percent of the picture you erased. Thus, if you completely erased the picture, you'd get 100 * 20, or a base score of 2,000 points. If your percent complete was 92.4 percent, you'd get a base score of 92.4 * 20, or 1,848.

If you succeeded in completely erasing the picture, you will get a Bucket Bonus of 10 points for each unused paint bucket. You will also get 20 points for any unused special tool.

Finally, if you completely erased the picture, or if you used every bucket and tool, you receive a time bonus. The time bonus formula is:

Time Bonus = 3 * (Unused Time/Total Time Limit) * (Percent Complete)

Thus, if you completely erased the picture, and used exactly 4 minutes of the 5 minute time limit, your time bonus would be 3*(60/300)*(100), or 60 points. If your percent complete was 84.1%, and you used 3:30 of the 5:00 time limit, your time bonus would be 3*(90/300)*(84.1), or 76 points.

Game Strategy

Your balloon and pencil specials will usually be most effective if used early.The hardest areas are those parts of the picture composed of many small groups of color; the easiest areas are those parts of the picture composed of large swaths of a single color Try to create "tendrils" that creep into the hardest areas of the picture. Also, if you have two large patches of color, try to connect them. These two strategies, when employed early in a game, can have a huge, snowballing impact, creating a "multiple fronts" in your assault on the picture.

Run your mouse cursor up and down the column of buckets, to get a quick feel for what color is most commonly adjoining your dominant blob of color.

It's generally better to spread out your use of a given color's buckets, and not use them in a short span.

Even if you run out of a given color of paint buckets, and you still have pixels of that color, don't despair. For one thing, you can use the Eyedropper to create a fourth bucket of that color. Another possibility is to use two buckets of an unneeded color to erase a patch of bucketless-color. Here's how. Let's say your dominant color is blue, and you have an area of green that you're trying to absorb, but you're out of green buckets. However, you have two red buckets you don't need. Use one red bucket to change the dominant color to red, then use the other red bucket on the green area to absorb it.

If, after using the first or second bucket of a given color, you have completely "gotten" that color, think about using the remaining buckets of that color to extend a "tendril" into one of the pictures hard-to-reach areas. (That is, pour these unneeded buckets into an area that is adjacent to your main area of color, thus extending the main area.) On the other hand, if you think you will be able to complete the picture without doing this, then save these unused buckets for the Bucket Bonus at the end of the game.

If you use your Paint Balloon near the edge of your picture, some of the balloon's splatter will go off the edge of the picture and be wasted.

While playing Paint Buckets, do not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery.

Did You Know?

  • To create a Martian sand dune for his movie "Mission to Mars", director Brian DePalma and his crew traveled to Vancouver, Canada and covered a 45-acre sand dune with 15,000 gallons of red paint.
  • The primary oil in an artist's oil paints, linseed oil, comes from the seed of the flax plant.
  • As of this writing, the world's largest painting by a single artist was painted by Eric Waugh. Entitled "Hero" it measured 41,400 square feet, and has been cut into 41,400 pieces that are being sold to raise money for children affected by AIDS.
  • The name of the paint color used for the Golden Gate Bridge is "International Orange", chosen because it blended well with the span's natural setting. While the bridge was being built, the U.S. Navy's requested that it be painted black with yellow stripes!
  • In an effect to curtail graffiti, New York has developed a subway-car paint from which other paint can be easily washed.

Credits

The following people contributed to the creation of Paint Buckets: Shawn Campbell, John Eskew, Tanya Feldman, Matt Ferrell, Steve Meretzky, and John Saylor.

Rocket Fuel