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Software Review – Corel Painter 12

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Corel Painter 12 is the latest release of Corel’s advanced digital art studio software. By providing the drawing and painting technology, Painter 12 allows artists to pursue their creative endeavors in totally new and inspiring ways. Now with the introduction of Real Watercolor, Real Wet Oil brushes, and other new features, it is taking creativity even further.

The Corel Painter 12 application is focused on five major groups. The first is 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 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.

P12-001

So what is new with this version of Corel Painter 12?

• Redesigned user interface will give you easy access to tools, media, and other items. It also includes a redesigned workspace and improved Brush Library panel that integrates both brush categories and variants that will reduce the learning curve for new users.

• Enhanced Cloning capabilities give you the capacity to visualize and manage clone sources. This means that you no longer have to copy and paste additional clone objects from multiple files into separate layers. You also have the ability to use one or multiple clone sources in a document which are now embedded into the clone document.

• New Navigator panel lets you better orient yourself in the document window and quickly modify the display. You can enable various tools as well from the navigator including the drawing modes, tracing paper, grids, tracing paper, and color management. It also displays useful document information like X and Y cursor coordinates, resolution, and document size.

Painter12_Navigator_HighQualityrendering

• Enhanced Library management now gives you the ability to better organize and manage a collection of similar items such as brushes, color sets, gradients, and paper textures.

• Enhanced New Image dialog box now lets you set the resolution, size, paper color, and paper texture of a new document. You also have the ability to create presets for the canvas settings that you use frequently.

• Enhanced High Quality Rendering has been added to Painter 12 to give you smoother looking images onscreen when you zoom in and zoom out. When you are zoomed in on an image area at more than 100%, the High Quality Display option smoothes the edges of your image so you can view it as it will print.

• New Computed Circular brush gives you the ability to customize dab profiles instead of choosing preset profiles. This lets you customize dab opacity and hardness, which controls the color density at the outer edge of the dab.

• New Temporal Colors palette is a floating palette that displays in the document window. It also lets you choose your colors within the context of the image that you are using. A simple keyboard shortcut activates the Temporal Colors palette, which floats in the document window to let you choose colors within the context of your artwork.

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• Enhanced Dynamic brush adjustments will let you set any brush size, opacity, angle, and squeeze dynamically onscreen. This is very useful for sizing and shaping a brush within the context of an image. This takes the guesswork out of brush sizing by letting you make adjustments without leaving the document window.

• New Brush Calibration will let you calibrate the individual brush variants to match your stroke strength when you use a pressure-sensitive stylus.

• New Multicore support for brushes will maximize your brush performance when you work on a multicore computer system.

• New Smart Blur effect lets you soften the appearance of an image through the ability to smooth out the colors and the sharp details.

• New Mirror painting tool gives you the ability to paint symmetrically. When you paint on one side of the canvas, it automatically reproduces the stroke on the other side. You get to choose horizontally or vertically.

• New Kaleidoscope painting tool will provide you the ability to transform basic brushstrokes into colorful and symmetrical kaleidoscope like shapes. This can provide electrical effects to your images. You can use between 3 and 12 mirrored planes to paint transfixed patterns and colors. Also, you can rotate or reposition the planes to create different patterns.

• New Gel brushes and Merge Mode controls give you more techniques to work your image. The Gel brushes let you tint the underlying colors of an image with the brushstroke color, and they can be customized by the Merge Mode controls to produce different effects.

• New Digital Airbrushes variants provide the ability to apply brushstrokes that do not build up color on a single brushstroke. To build up the colors you overlay multiple strokes. There are six new Airbrushes that you can work with.

Painter12_RealWatercolor_Sample_Box_Image

• New Real Watercolor brushes and Controls provide better ability for the water and pigments to interact with the paper. They allow you apply the pigment to the paper in a very realistic way. You can precisely control water consistency and movement. As you apply the brushstrokes, the paint spreads out before settling into its dried state.

• New Real Wet Oil brushes and Controls give you the ability to achieve the look and feel of real world oil-paints. They are grouped into five areas – brush, liquid flow, paint, canvas, and wind. The brush control options let you control precisely the paint consistency and movement. You also can control the way in which the paint interacts with the canvas. You can even produce an opaque, turpentine effect.

• New Content has been provided that includes brushes, papers, nozzles as well as other media. This gives you more possibilities to interact with or integrate with your images.

• New Web-based Help is included with Corel Painter 12. Now you can be provided with up-to-date help content when you are online, yet have local help available when you are not.

Corel Painter 12, while more concerned with performance – both for the product as well as the user, does come with a number of new features. The first and most noticeable is an updated and streamlined interface. It kind of took me by surprise and a bit to get use to, but after using it for a while, it really grew on me.

P12-002The brushes have been regrouped to minimize the number of options that you have to deal with when trying to find one. The brushes that have been recently used appear at the top of the listing. The new Navigator panel that lets you view, rotate, zoom in and out of your work as well as pan around with click and drag motion, is really nice and can really streamline your workflow.

I also liked the Real Watercolors a lot. There seems to be some issue with lag, but the fact that they really do work like watercolors more than offsets the lag. When you add in the Temporal Colors palate, the Kaleidoscope tool, the Mirror Painting, and the updated help features, Painter 12 really is worthwhile upgrade. You can also download a free trial from Corel.  If you want to work with the ultimate art studio, then I very highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

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

    I’ve been a Painter advocate and serious user for more than 15 years. I use this program 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It is THE production software I use as a professional illustrator. This latest release, while adding some attractive features, is the worst release Corel has ever put out. The software’s programmers have yet to resolve many of the earlier version’s crash problems, the interface redesign makes me question if anyone knows what they are doing, or perhaps they are simply outsourcing everything to India.
    If you created custom palettes of brushes, colors, commands, etc. in prior versions, be forewarned: you will have to recreate every one of them again in this new release. If you rely on the portfolio feature (create portfolios of images or layers for reuse) be forewarned: you will run into problems importing many of them into this program. If you typically use the “paint inside or outside a selection” feature found in all prior versions, it inexplicably has been hidden in the navigation menu pull downs in this version. You can no longer shift select multiple layers in the document, you must go to the layer’s menu and do it there (absolutely ridiculous). The layer’s menu is poorly designed and glitchy. The brush size in the “Dab Profile” menu no longer updates in real time as you adjust sliders in the various brush control menus. The program continues to crash when dealing with layers, text and objects. I could go on, but suffice it to say, if you are a long-time user of this software, you will run into more problems and issues that drive you crazy and question your continued use of this software. Do not purchase this version, wait for Painter 13 and see if they correct their Painter 12 blunder.