The latest digital art resources are put to the test by the ImagineFX team… Artrageous Fortune One of our favourite pieces of digital painting software has just got a little bit better
rtRage has long given us some lovely tools and effects at an affordable price. The latest update (v4.5) isn't a huge advance, but it's a reminder that Ambient Design is headed in the right direction. Also, it's a free update for owners of version 4 – proof that the developer is more interested in people than profits.
Like Corel's Painter, the modus operandi here is creating a realistic painting experience. The tools on offer don't quite have the depth of Painter's, but there are more than enough and
AThere are enough tools to keep all but the most demanding of digital artists satisfied
they feel tactile and lifelike. An oil brush starts out fully loaded with ink, but quickly thins out and becomes more transparent. The watercolour brush, meanwhile, delivers a pale line with darker edges – just like the real thing.
The way that different paints interact is impressive, too. A palette knife can be smeared over the virtually damp canvas to blur and distort your creations, for example. One impressive addition in the latest version of Painter is the addition of more psychedelic Flame Painter-style brushes. ArtRage doesn't include quite as many options, and the results aren't quite as convincing. There's still a lot to love here, though. With its chunky menus and large tool and colour selection areas, ArtRage looks like a tablet app, and as a result it's far more accessible and child-friendly than Corel's increasingly bustling Painter. It also includes stylus tilt detection – a feature that's only just been added to Painter.
ArtRage feels like it's where Painter was a few years ago, before it became crowded with features. This is no bad thing. The price is low, and we love the fact that Ambient Design has chosen to drop the Pro version so it can concentrate on making the best possible version of ArtRage. It retains an elegant simplicity that Painter can’t match, and for the price it’s a very competent digital painting program.
Resources such as Stencils and Presets
can be duplicated and moved between groups (image shown
by Nick Harris). Collect layers, presets, colour samples and stencils in the Toolbox. The thickness of grid lines self-adjusts as the size changes. Tilt your stylus when using the pencil tool and you will
notice how it directly affects the lines you draw.