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Brush tracking, real-time previews, a 64-bit Mac version, and other updates make Painter 2015 a solid upgrade.

Software Review: Corel Painter 2015

Corel Painter 2015 is the latest release of Corel’s advanced digital art studio software, which aims to allow artists to pursue their creative endeavors in new and inspiring ways. It includes not ony the traditional style of painting in a digital environment, but creating works based on photographs as well. And of course you don’t have to clean up a mess or expose yourself to vapors and chemicals.

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015

Corel Painter is aimed at five major groups. One is commercial designers who require 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 create astounding scenes for animation, movie, and video games. In recent years, photographers too have 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 that comes with using real-world materials.

What is new with this version of Corel Painter?

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015 – Art by Don Seegmiller

Particle Brushes are physics-inspired brushes that emit particles from a central point. These particles then draw a pattern of lines or paths as they move across the canvas. The paths of the particles can be controlled with precision or you can introduce randomness through the Particle Brush control panel. There are three types of Particle Brushes: gravity brushes which use force to shrink and grow with movement; flow brushes which emit particles along a path and flow out from the center of the brush; and spring brushes which create shapes that bend and distort with movement, appear held together by elastic springs, and bounce back toward the center of the brush. You control a brush’s behavior by manipulating a variety of real-time input factors.

Real-Time Stylus and Windows Tablet PC support means that you now have mobile support for Corel Painter. The mobile interface works to maximize screen space while giving you a lot of the same tools that you have in the desktop application, including paint, eyedropper, paint bucket, eraser, crop tool, transform, and the grabber. You even have layers, for detailed control.

Custom user interface palette arrangements now offer preset layouts to choose from. These arrangements allow you to hide, display and reposition elements within the workspace. What this means is that if you are in a traditional painting workflow, you can have one set of arrangements. If you are in a design workflow, you can have another completely separate setup, and if you work with photographs, a third. The ones that come with Painter 2015 include one for illustration, one for photo art, and one for getting started with the new particle brushes. There is also a quick switch option that allows you to switch between your two most frequently used arrangements.

Jitter Smoothing lets you control the randomness of your digital brushes. This is an improvement on the Universal Jitter that was added in the X3 version of Painter to add randomness to your strokes. Jitter Smoothing improves on this functionality to make your strokes more realistic and makes your brushes even more customizable, giving you options to control the smoothing through angle, flow and color.

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015

Native 64-bit application for Mac now provides performance improvement that has only been available on the PC version. This means that you now have faster speed especially in intensive operations such as working with layers, transforming, rotating, and zooming. You will also see better accuracy and improvements to brush performance.

Cross-Platform CPU performance optimizations include brush improvements, dialog improvements, and optimization of power consumption which will really help those who use Painter on a laptop computer.

Real-Time Previews of effects such as image lighting and surface texture let you see the effect applied as a real-time preview, as opposed to seeing it applied to a preview window as in prior versions. This means that you can see what the effects will look like while you are still in the dialog box, as opposed to going back and forth between the image and the dialog panel.

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015

Brush tracking has been improved quite a bit. It now allows you to calibrate each brush individually. This gives you the kind of control that you would have if you were using real-world art materials. Since some brushes work better with a lighter touch, you can make that adjustment; other brushes work better with more pressure so you can adjust to that as well.

New content includes new papers and textures that can be used for surfaces to provide background looks. There are also new image hoses, flow maps, patterns, weaves, gradients, image portfolio elements, a new color mixer, a command bar with frequently used commands, and new workflow presets.

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015

Smart photo-painting tools now give you even more power when converting photos into paintings. Using a photo with the Cloning brushes, Clone Source, or the Auto-Painting features, you can turn a photo into the basis for a painting. By using the Photo Art arrangement, you have at your fingertips palettes that are commonly used by photo artists and give you optimal settings to create art based on your photos.

Corel Painter continues to be the standard for digital painting. Other products add features, but Corel Painter redefines the capability that is digital painting with each new offering and this release is no different.

In Painter 2015, the Particle brushes are simply revolutionary. There are just so many possibilities with these brushes that they really make this a profound upgrade. I really liked working with them, as they provide a wide range of looks and allow you to paint everything from smoky-looking flows to total chaotic randomness.

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015

What I also like is that they are really unlike any other brushes in the system. They provide such unique capabilities that to me they are a must-have for those who want truly creative effects in their work. Not only can they be used for illustration, design, and traditional fine art, but I can see them being used for photo artwork as in product advertising, for example.

The speed is the next biggest improvement. For the most part it is very noticeable over the previous X3. There are still some places where it can slow down, but the recovery time is so much faster than before, and it gets back up to speed with no noticeable after effects. Especially for Mac users, Painter 2015 with the new 64-bit version will be a big reason to upgrade.

While not a revolutionary improvement, the Jitter Smoothing really makes your painting much more realistic. In real-life painting the artist knows that no two strokes are identical. When jitter was introduced in the last version, it gave you the capability of randomness. Now the Jitter Smoothing adds that extra bit of finesse, giving you even more control, which in turn provides more realism to each stroke.

When you add the panel arrangements which give you a more focused workflow, the mobile capability with its simplified arrangement for maximum workspace on tablets, brush tracking, real-time previews, and all of the other updates, Painter 2015 is a really solid upgrade. If you are looking for a new purchase, then no doubt now is the time to invest in Corel Painter and I highly recommend this version.

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About T. Michael Testi

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

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