Pain­ter 2016

We in­ves­ti­gate the new fea­tures Corel has in­tro­duced to see if this al­ready ca­pa­ble paint­ing soft­ware is worth in­vest­ing in

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We in­ves­ti­gate the new fea­tures Corel has in­tro­duced to see if this al­ready ca­pa­ble paint­ing soft­ware is now worth in­vest­ing in.

Pain­ter has been around for a long time, with a loyal fan­base and a ma­ture, fully packed fea­ture set. This means it al­ready does pretty much ev­ery­thing that the ma­jor­ity of dig­i­tal artists need it to, from ex­cel­lent tra­di­tional brush re­pro­duc­tion and sim­u­la­tion, to beau­ti­fully ren­dered pa­per tex­ture and a lot more. That makes it harder for the de­vel­op­ers to find new tools and fea­tures – but Corel has man­aged to do this with some suc­cess for the 2016 edi­tion.

The big­gest new fea­ture in 2016 is Dy­namic Speck­les, which is truly a fan­tas­tic tool, es­pe­cially for those artists look­ing to add a touch of nat­u­ral chaos to a piece, or want to add va­ri­ety to a repet­i­tive area, such as fo­liage, hair or de­tail in rock.

At ini­tial glance, the new brushes look and feel a bit like a pre­set 2D par­ti­cles sys­tem. But when you dig deeper into the brush set­tings you have a lot of con­trol over ev­ery as­pect, from colour vari­a­tion to jit­ter, size, opac­ity and most el­e­ments of a brush that need fine tun­ing.

What’s nice is that the brushes are quick to de­fine, en­abling you to work at a cre­ative pace, rather than be­ing held back by but­ton push­ing and menu surf­ing. The ren­dered re­sults are lovely: vari­a­tions look nat­u­ral, with­out the forced pat­tern look you might ex­pect.

If there’s one new fea­ture that feels slightly out of place how­ever, it’s the in­tro­duc­tion of the Au­dio Ex­pres­sion tool. In essence, this means you can load in an au­dio file and Pain­ter will then use the wave­forms to con­trol at­tributes of your stroke. While hav­ing some mu­sic on while paint­ing is favoured by many, the tran­si­tion from back­ground to can­vas doesn’t feel al­to­gether nat­u­ral. Although the strokes are un­mis­tak­ably var­ied, it’s hard to see how the mu­sic is con­trol­ling the re­sults.

Mod­ern soft­ware for artists needs to be ver­sa­tile, pow­er­ful and able to fit into a user’s work­flow, as seam­lessly as pos­si­ble. Pre­vi­ous ver­sions of Pain­ter

Dy­namic Speck­les is truly a fan­tas­tic tool, es­pe­cially for those artists look­ing to add a touch of nat­u­ral chaos

have been pretty good at giv­ing you the choice of where to dock pal­ettes and GUI el­e­ments, and this new re­lease adds to this with a use­ful new cus­tom tool­box sys­tem. While not break­ing any real new ground, what Pain­ter does al­low for is pal­ettes of mixed items. So if you’re a par­tic­u­larly fo­cused artist who tends to only use a small hand­ful of tools, you could gather them into one pal­ette, keep­ing your workspace clear.

2016 is a solid re­lease for Pain­ter that brings a num­ber of new fea­tures to the artist. Yet it’s the more sub­tle en­hance­ments that make it a worth­while pur­chase. The cus­tom tool­box is great and, along with the new Pho­to­shop brush im­port op­tion, does help to make an artist’s life eas­ier.

While the other new fea­tures are a mixed bag, none of them de­tract from a great paint­ing pro­gram, and some help it stand out.

The above was painted by Lawrence Mann (see Artist In­ter­view on the right, for more), who was named a Corel Master Pain­ter 2015.

Lawrence ar­gues all artists have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to get in­volved with the de­vel­op­ment of soft­ware and hard­ware that they use.

“I love Pain­ter 2016’s new abil­ity to im­port .abr files,” says Lawrence. “Now I can bring in all those brushes I’ve cre­ated for Pho­to­shop.”

“Pain­ter isn’t a sub­sti­tute for Pho­to­shop,” says Lawrence. “In­stead, think of them work­ing to­gether sym­bi­ot­i­cally to cre­ate great art.”

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