Corel has recently released a new version of Painter, Painter11. For people not familiar with Corel Painter, Painter is an advanced painting program using natural media materials that simulate traditional painting media such as oils and watercolors. It is a Natural-Media® painting and illustrating software program for both Mac and Windows computers. However, it goes beyond the traditional tools. You can create all sorts of canvas textures, combine brushes and create the natural media materials to your specifications.

There are a number of enhancements as well as new additions to this version. Since so many people use Adobe Photoshop who also use Painter, I'll begin by describing the increased compatibility. Each version has added more compatibility between the two programs. Painter 11 has added the ability to move more seamlessly between Painter and Photoshop files keeping layer masks, channels, layer merge modes, etc. intact.

This is how the above layers and channels appear in Painter. All the information is replicated.

If you often go between Photoshop and Painter, you want to set up your color profiles so the space is the same. Now Painter 11 allows for either use embedded profiles or use default profiles. Below is the default setup for the new color management in Painter 11. Thus, Painter 11 recognizes a file's color profile. In addition, you can save color profiles for RIF, TIF, PSD, and JPEG file formats. I was able to change it to mimic Photoshop CS4.

Immediately below is a screen capture of the the Color Management menu from Painter X. I think the difference is wonderfully obvious between Painter X and Painter 11. This was one area that has needed upgrading for a while.

You can manipulate colors using your Up, Down, Left, and Right arrows once you activate this option by clicking on the Hue Ring in the Color palette.

Enhancements have been added when you use a digitizing tablet. Now the tilt of the pen can change your stroke allowing for easier shading.

Also, as you increase or decrease your speed, you control the width of the brush strokes.

Corel states that brushes perform 35% faster than with previous versions. They certainly performed quickly and smoothly for me.

Corel has added some new tools in Painter 11 including a Polygon mode for the Lasso plus improvements in the Magic Wand and the Marquee tools. You can enlarge the Mixer palette so that there will be more colors visible on the top row.

And you can, also, expand the Color palette so it is larger and easier to use.

As the support for the Wacom tablet was enhanced so is the support for Mac OS® X support. Corel Painter 11 supports the latest operating system from Apple and also provides built-in support for the Spotlight™ software utility. I can attest to the improvement with Windows Vista™ 64-bit support. This winter when I purchased a new computer I chose the Vista™ Ultimate 64-bit OS and had more than 8 gig of memory. Painter X would not work. I found threads on the web whereby others were having the same problem. Painter 11 works smoothly on this system.

Corel Painter 11 has added 40 new Hard Media variants for drawing and sketching as well as a new Hard Media palette for creating custom variants.

In addition, you will find some new customizable Rendering markers. You can build up your color density as you would in real life by adding strokes.

Corel has kept the same structure as in Painter X but has added some nice features as well as enhanced others. Color Management has seen a great improvement as has the compatibility with Photoshop. Many of the palettes or panels look very much alike between the two programs. I recall in very early versions one had to go back to Photoshop to create an adequate selection. This is no longer true, of course. The editing tools have been enhanced with each new version.

Corel Painter 11 supports many file format: Portable Network Graphics (PNG), Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Corel® Paint Shop Pro® (PSP), TIFF (CMYK & RGB), Windows Bitmap (BMP), PC Paintbrush (PCX), TARGA® (TGA), GIF, JPEG, Mac PICT, QuickTime (MOV), and Video for Windows (AVI) files. In addition, users can save files in Encapsulated PostScript® (EPS) format.

You don't have to be able to paint or draw to use Corel Painter. As a photographer, I very often use it to enhance my work. I often use the cloning tool to change the feeling of an image or the Effects>Apply Surface Texture to add depth to an image. You can use the Auto Painting palettes to simulate many different styles if you desire to automatically clone an image or you can clone an image using the cloner brush or any brush set to clone.

Below is an example of an image that I created in about 10 minutes using the Auto Painting features of Painter. It consisted of two layers, the original and the auto-painted one. This is just a tiny example of how you can use Painter 11 even if you do not draw or paint. For this image, I worked with both Photoshop and Painter. The interchange was seamless.

Below are another set of images which combine and Painter 11 and Photoshop CS4. The original was not a photograph but an image created in e-on software's Vue 7 Infinite.

Below is the image after I finished with it using both Photoshop CS4 and Painter 11. All of the brush work was done in Painter 11 with just some touch up done in Photoshop CS4.

A number of Extras come with Painter 11. One of my favorite brushes can be found in the set of Extra Brushes in the folder for Painter 5. It is called Water. I transfer it with each Painter version. You can take a brush folder from the Extras and add it your brushes' folder in Painter 11.

The minimum system requirements are:

Mac OS® version:
• Mac OS® X (version 10.4 or 10.5, with latest revision)
• Power Macintosh® G5, 700 MHz or greater
• 1 GB of RAM
• Mouse or tablet
• 24-bit color display
• 1024 × 768 screen resolution
• CD drive

Windows® version:
• Windows XP, or Windows Vista™ operating system (with latest service packs)
• Pentium® IV, 700 MHz or greater
• 1 GB of RAM
• Mouse or tablet
• 24-bit color display
• 1024 × 768 screen resolution
• CD drive

The full version of Corel painter 11 is US $399.00 with an upgrade of US $199.00. A fully working free trial can be downloaded. I always suggest people do this who are thinking about purchasing either a new product or an upgrade.

For a comparison of features of other products in the Corel family, click on family. For more information about Corel products go to You can, also, find out more information about Painter 11 on the Corel website.

I really like this version of Painter and recommend that you download a free trial. After working with the above set of images, experimenting with different techniques, and brushes, I began to plan project after project to accomplish in Painter 11. The new color management is a huge plus. It is so much easier to go from Painter 11 to Photoshop CS4 and back again knowing my colors look the same. This, alone is worth a lot. I can't exactly say why because it is more a feeling than something I can document, but I never felt as comfortable in Painter (and I've used versions since probably 4) as I do in Painter 11. In the past, no matter how well Painter was performing, I found myself reverting back to Photoshop. In this version I didn't and would get lost not knowing if I were in Painter or Photoshop. Wonderful upgrade.