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Software Review: Corel Painter 11

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Corel Painter 11 is the latest release of Corel's advanced digital art studio software. By providing the drawing and painting technology, Painter 11 allows artists to pursue their creative endeavors in totally new and inspiring ways.

Corel Painter 11 is aimed at five major groups of users. First are commercial designers who require the tools to create their visions for architecture, graphic design, and illustration. Next are concept artists who need tools to speed their production time as well as have the ability to create astounding scenes for animation, movie, and video games. Photographers have, in recent years, begun using Corel Painter to explore new avenues for creative work, and generate additional revenue. Then there are the fine artists who use digital as "just another medium" within the world of fine art. Finally there are students and teachers of art or design who want the ability to learn their craft without the cost, mess, and chemicals associated with traditional art supplies.

What do you need to run Corel Painter 11? There are both Windows and Mac versions, and each requires a 700 MHz or better processor, 1 GB RAM, a mouse or pen tablet, 24-bit color display with 1024×768 screen resolution, a CD-ROM drive, and 500 MB hard disk space.

Corel PainterSo what is new with this version of Corel Painter 11?

• Hard media variants continue Painter's leadership in the creation of realistic natural-media brushes. In version 11 you get a range of 40 new hard media variants that are suitable for drawing and sketching. They are available in a variety of brush categories including Acrylic, Blenders, Chalk, Colored Pencils, Pens, Watercolors, and the all new Marker.

• Custom hard media variants give you the ability to create your own variants. The palette provides a preview window and several controls that users can fine tune variants to meet their needs. These include dab profiles, sizes, transition range, stroke width, and tilt angle.

• Customizable rendering markers are all new to version 11 and are specifically designed to emulate real-world rendering markers. As with all Painter media, they take advantage of tablet tilt so that artists can vary the width of the marker stroke by adjusting the angle of their pen. You can even take control of Marker buildup just like the real-world counterparts.

• Redesigned Colors palette now has all of the color controls are on one palette. They have taken the sliders from the former Color Info palette making them easier to adjust colors right on the color palette. You can choose to show or hide both the color wheel and the color information sliders, providing more space for the tools you use most frequently. Also, as you hover over the Color Wheel a new tool tip provides accurate color values for the currently selected color. The Colors Palette is resizable by up to 800 pixels in width giving you a better view of all available colors.

• Resizable Mixer palette is now resizable by up to 1600 pixels in width, thus providing more space for mixing of custom colors. As the palette is resized, the Brush Size slider will expand in width to give you more control and accuracy.

Corel Painter• Polygonal Selection Tool lets you take advantage of the new Polygonal mode to produce straighter lines when making node-to-node selections. Also the ability to switch in and out of Polygonal mode while using the Lasso tool gives you more precision and dexterity when making selections.

• Transform Tool now takes all of the transform modes and moves them into one centralized tool. This will improve the ease and efficiency of transforming your images. Now you can quickly and easily switch between Move, Scale, Rotate, Skew, Distort, and Perspective Distortion modes. You can also choose whether to transform the complete contents of a layer, or just selected content within a layer.

• Document Color profiles now give you the ability to save individual color profiles for every Painter document. Whether RIF, PSD, TIF, PNG, or JPEG, this will ensure accurate color representation for every file when distributing your artwork.

• Keyboard color selection enables you to select your colors by using the arrows on the keyboard to control the pointer. Now with a single tap of your pen activates the Color Wheel and give you the flexibility to manipulate the color with your keyboard.

• Tablet tilt will let you control the width of your brush strokes by adjusting the angle of your pen. A vertical pen angle will create a thin brush stroke, while a slanted one will create a wider stroke giving you the perfect feel for accomplishing something like shading an image.

So what has been enhanced with this version of Corel Painter 11?

• Velocity control has been enhanced to give you more control over media deposits when using your tablet and pen. As you speed up your pen, thinner brush strokes with less media are applied. As you slow down your speed, more will be applied to a thicker stroke.

• Color management interface has been redesigned and simplified to give you more control over your color profiles when creating new files, opening existing Painter files, or opening files of other types. This will give you more accurate color representation when switching between applications, or exchanging files with others.

• Selection tools have been improved giving you more control and better results. The Marquee tool allows for more precise selections, and the Magic Wand tool more accurately selects designated areas.

• Copy and paste functionality has been enhanced to give you more precision and faster performance. In addition, you can now copy content from multiple layers, all visible layers, and even the canvas if it is visible.

• Color recognition gives you the ability to import an image created in Photoshop, or a scanned image or photo, and Corel Painter 11 will recognize the individual color profile that is associated with it. This way the color properties are preserved when exchanging artwork and will give you the ability to maintain color consistency.

Corel Painter• Photoshop support has been improved to better allow you to open Adobe Photoshop PSD files in Corel Painter 11 with layer masks, alpha channels, layer merge modes, and layer sets (groups) maintained.

• File format support now provides support for Portable Network Graphics (PNG) files to go along with the support for PSD, PSP, TIFF, BMP, PCX, TGA, GIF, JPEG, PICT, MOV, AVI, and EPS.

• Wacom Support has been upgraded to support the entire Wacom line including the Cintiq 21 UX interactive pen display, the Intuos 3 and Bamboo pen tablets, and the Wacom 6D Art Pen.

Corel Painter 11 is a significant new release. With this release, Corel continues to change what is possible when working with digital art by enhancing the creative process in traditional art, as well as taking you beyond the digital darkroom.

With additional speed and performance, especially the 30 percent increase in brush response over Painter X on the Intel Mac, the new color management and its subsequent performance increase will have you working more efficiently than ever.

When you add in the enhancements to the resizable Color Wheel and Mixer palette, the improvements in layer selection and manipulation, the new brushes and dry media controls, Painter 11 really is the ultimate art studio. You can also download a free trial from Corel.

Along with what is listed above, some of the things that I have liked in the past and continue to like in this new version include the ability to learn and experiment with new styles, compositions, colors, and forms, and having the ability to wipe the slate clean at any time without any loss or expense. What's more, I like the ability to take the final output, as with the image seen above, and have it sent out to be reproduced on canvas at larger sizes (in this case 20" x 30") and the resolution and clarity is just impeccable. I very highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Somnambulist

    Very thorough, but man, this reads like a press release, not a review. There was not a single thing with this piece of software that you had an issue with?

  • Hank Langeman

    I don’t understand the layering system. When you had objects it seemed to be easier, like in Painter 7.