Tuesday , April 16 2024
Even if you are not looking for a product like this, you should check it out; you might release your inner artist.

Software Review – ArtRage Deluxe 2.5 From Smith Micro

Did you ever want to play with paint? That is the concept behind the product from Ambient Design called ArtRage. The latest version; ArtRage Deluxe 2.5 is touted as an easy-to-use, computer-based painting and drawing application that provides a comprehensive range of tools for both novice and accomplished artists.

As seen below, ArtRage opens with a simple interface that contains a tool picker in the lower left-hand corner that will let you choose between the tool that you will work with and give you the control on how big it will be. You have brushes, pencils, palette knife, chalk, crayons, and more.

In the lower right-hand corner you have the color picker and it is used for selecting colors and loading custom pickers. Here you have the big color wheel which shows you the hue and saturation of your color. You have the control bar underneath with a slider for setting how metallic your paint will be and a menu arrow that lets you open up the color menu for important options.

If you do not have autoclean turned on, you will get a glass of water for cleaning off your brush. You have custom color pickers which are pictures that you can sample colors for your painting. This way if you need skin tones you can load a picture with the appropriate hues and select your colors this way. You have the color samples panel where you can store colors used in your painting, and finally you also have numeric color picking via RGB or HLS values.

On the bottom of the screen you have a toolbox which gives you things for manipulating your canvas, and boxes of items that you might want on the canvas such as stencils, tracing, and a reference image that can be pinned to the canvas. You also have a layers panel that lets you do your work in layers; i.e., sheets of transparent paper that can be stacked on top of each other and painted on.

What features does ArtRage 2.5 give you?

• Layer Content Transformation – now lets you Move, Scale, and rotate the contents of Layers using the Transform Layer Contents option in the Edit Menu.

• Layer Copy & Paste – gives you the ability to copy the contents of a Layer using the Copy Layer to Clipboard option in the Edit Menu. You can Paste the contents of your clipboard to a new Layer using the Paste Clipboard to New Layer option in the Edit Menu.

• Layer Groups & Layer Names – are now available to add Layer Groups, and name your Layers and Groups.

• Resolution Support – In the New File or Resize panels you can now set the size of your image using pixels, inches, centimeters, or millimeters. You can also set the DPI resolution of your image.

• Smooth Blender – The Palette Knife now has a Smooth blending option which can be found in the Type picker of the Tool Controls Panel when the Palette Knife is selected.

• Precise Pencil – now has a precise option. Turning this option on makes your pencil sharper and more like a mechanical pencil. This option can be found in the Tool Controls Panel when the Pencil is selected.

• Mouse Wheel Zoom – The Mouse Wheel on a mouse, or the Zoom Strip on Wacom Intuos 3 tablets can now be used to zoom the canvas.

• More Image Formats – ArtRage 2.5 supports more image formats for Import and Export.

• Internal Updater – The ArtRage Updater has been built in to the application to make it easier to download and install updates.

• Toolbox Panel – The bottom of the ArtRage window now has a Toolbox Panel, from which you can access your Stencils, Tracing Images, and Reference Images.

• Layers Panel – The Layers Panel has been moved to the right of the window for easier access.

• Color Samples Panel – The Color Samples Panel that used to be on the right-hand edge of the window is now a floating panel. You can bring it up by pressing ‘S’, or using the Show Color Samples Panel option in the Tools Menu or Color Picker menu. You can also name your color samples.

• Import To Layer – You can now import an image to a new Layer in the current document, rather than having to import to a new document. Use the Import To Layer option in the File menu.

• Bump Blend Modes – The way ArtRage layers the volume of paint on Layers can be controlled from the Bump Blend Mode menu in the Layer Menus.

What features does ArtRage Deluxe 2.5 give you?

• Painting Tools – now offer the ability to paint with thinned oils, use wet or dry markers, soften the pencil and control the hardness of the crayon and much more.

• Stencils & Rulers – now allows you to add Stencils and Rulers to your painting, for creating precise shapes, straight lines, and curves. You just press ‘F’ to bring up the Stencil Picker, or click the Stencils button on the new Toolbox Panel.

• Tracing Images and References – lets you easily recreate photos or other images using paint tools. When loading a Tracing Image, the original is projected on to the canvas and can be used as a guide while sketching and painting.

• Layers – now provides full support for all 23 Photoshop layer blend modes.

ArtRage 2.5 is available from SmithMicro for $49.99. It is available for both the PC (Pentium 800 MHz running Windows 2000 or greater) and the Mac (G4, G5, or Intel Processor with OS X 10.3.9 or greater)

What did I think of ArtRage 2.5? I found it incredibly fun and totally entertaining. While it will be very productive to the professional who needs a product to create art work, it can be a tremendous time waster to someone like me who gets caught up in playing around with it, and then looks up to find it is two in the morning and I have to get up in four hours. The sketch below is the culprit. I was really just going to install the program and test it out with my Wacom Intuos 3 tablet to make sure that everything was ready when I was. I started to look at the tracing images feature and one thing lead to another and, well, it was two o'clock in the morning.

When I showed the picture to my 10-year-old daughter as it was based on a photo of her, I think I lost both the program and my Wacom; now she won't let me on my computer. I am not pretending that the sketch is great or even that good; especially at two in the morning, but what I am saying is that the product is infectious. Great is the Macaw image above by Waheed Nasir which if you click on the image, it will take you to a tutorial that will show you how it was created in ArtRage. Also to see great, check out the forum galleries.

If you are looking for a digital painting and sketching program and want something that gives you the freedom to create and not invest a lot of money, then ArtRage Deluxe 2.5 is the product for you. Even if you are not looking for something like this, I think that you should check it out; it might help release your inner artist. I highly recommend this product.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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