Painter 2017

Paint the town red with this ex­cel­lent art app

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by Rob Red­man

£314 FROM Corel, corel.com needs OS X 10.9.5 or higher

The last few years have seen Painter keep its place at the top of the nat­u­ral me­dia paint­ing pile, but it’s been hard to see where it could go for­ward.

How­ever, the 2017 edi­tion sees its de­vel­oper in­no­vat­ing with new tools, as well as im­prov­ing on ex­ist­ing ones.

The app it­self hasn’t changed much in feel or op­er­a­tion, which is a good thing and ul­ti­mately al­lows the new fea­tures to feel less like bolt-ons for the pur­poses of up­grades, and more like in­te­gral parts of the soft­ware.

The toolset is pretty com­pre­hen­sive, as well as very re­al­is­tic. It’s very easy to get to grips with, es­pe­cially if used with a graph­ics tablet. Many tools re­spond to sty­lus an­gle and ro­ta­tion, as well as po­si­tion, al­low­ing you to an­gle them to cre­ate broader shad­ing with a 2B pen­cil, or work with shaped-tip ink pens.

Painter 2017 adds a num­ber of new tools, the most no­table be­ing the tex­ture and glaz­ing ones. The for­mer en­ables you to in­tel­li­gently add tex­tures to your work based on the un­der­ly­ing im­agery. It has sev­eral pre­sets, and it’s sim­ple to add your own. You could take a photo of a con­crete wall, de­fine that in Painter, and use it to add tex­ture in a va­ri­ety of ways. There are many uses for this, but prob­a­bly the most ob­vi­ous is for fast-work­ing con­cept artists who need to de­fine a look, or even 3D artists paint­ing maps for use in CG.

The glaz­ing tools are a set of trans­par­ent brushes that build up as a real-world glaze would, en­hanc­ing depth and colour. Painter comes with a num­ber of pre­set brushes and, as with all Painter brushes, there is a huge amount of con­trol and cus­tomis­abil­ity avail­able. This con­tin­ues with the in­ter­face as a whole, with pal­ettes that can be moved, col­lapsed, stacked or hid­den, and lay­outs that can be saved for spe­cific tasks.

Great gra­di­ent con­trol

Painter 2017 doesn’t stop there. Any good soft­ware up­grade should be in­dica­tive of the de­vel­oper lis­ten­ing to its users, fix­ing is­sues or chang­ing tools so they bet­ter fit their uses. In this re­lease, the in­ter­ac­tive gra­di­ent tool has been tweaked to give bet­ter per­for­mance, plus new op­tions, such as edit nodes, which help you ap­ply gra­di­ents to ex­ist­ing art.

Stick­ing with the gra­di­ent theme, there is also a new Gra­di­ent Ex­press tool, which is aimed at re­liev­ing the prob­lem of star­ing at a fresh doc­u­ment and not know­ing how to start. The gra­di­ents can have brush styles ap­plied for rapidly work­ing out a colour theme or back­ground, to kick-start your creative think­ing when you need it. This, in con­junc­tion with the tex­ture tool, is a great way to start any piece.

It’s hard to crit­i­cise what is an ex­cel­lent bit of soft­ware. How­ever, Painter can be a lit­tle bit too com­pre­hen­sive; it’s easy to forget some of the op­tions that are avail­able as there are just so many, es­pe­cially once you set the in­ter­face to your pre­ferred work­ing method (the app pro­vides pre­sets for photo art, con­cept work and more). Painter’s in­ter­face isn’t as mod­ern those found in some other apps, but it does its job well, and the app’s ease of nav­i­ga­tion sur­passes any thoughts about dated but­ton shapes.

The in­ter­ac­tive gra­di­ent tool’s new op­tions in­clude edit nodes, to help ap­ply gra­di­ents to ex­ist­ing art

Painter 2017 in­tro­duces the use­ful glaze and tex­ture tools.

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