Review Corel Painter X

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. Painter X is optimized for both "Intel-and PowerPC-based Mac computers" and Windows Vista™. Each of the last few versions of Painter has meshed better and better with Adobe Photoshop so that the artist can go from one to the other. However, Painter is a "digital art studio" that contains the tools for both the traditional and digital artist. As Corel states: "Corel Painter X continues on its focus on the fundamentals of art technique and theory." The reader will see this as the review progresses in its description of some of the new tools offered in Painter X. While reading the review, readers might want to download a fully working 30 day trial version to experiment for themselves. It can be downloaded from trial. If you have never worked with Painter, you definitely want to experiment with all the brushes which can be configured in a myriad of ways. It is a professional level program, but newbies should not be afraid to try it. The boxed version of Painter X comes with an excellent, easy to read manual of 331 pages.

Painter X's workspace is fully customizable. One can use the default workspace or import, for example, another workspace. Switching between workspaces is very easy. One can set up a workspace specific to photography and another specific to painting. This feature is new in Painter X. Palettes can be moved around. I use two monitors and keep my palettes on the second monitor.

The heart of Painter has always been its brushes. They are all fully, and I mean fully, customizable. Corel has added new enhancements to both the tools, brushes, and structural end of Painter X. It seems with every new release of Painter, Corel has improved on its brushes.

This version touts a new RealBristle Painting System. Corel states that "the RealBristle Painting System authentically reproduces the natural movement of the artist's brush." Below are some of the different RealBristle brushes. If you look at the last two brush examples on the right, you will see they are different. There is a tool in the mixer palette which allows the user to sample a number of colors and paint with those samples using certain brushes.

As I pressed harder on the brush using my Wacom® digitizing tablet, I could splay the bristles. I, also, could set the amount the brushes splayed for each brush variant. Above, I used the default settings. Also, using a mixed palette, I could pick up the various colors that made up the palette for a blended or more differentiated effect (see last two examples on the right.).

Divine Proportion has been around for a long time. It is a ratio of approximately 3:5. The Rule of Thirds is also a proportional system that is recognized as being aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Corel has incorporated both these principals into Painter X.

Maybe because I have never visually used Divine Proportion, I found it confusing. Even though it could be simplified, I found the lines interfered with my creative flow.

I found the Rule of Thirds visually easier to use. Although, personally, I find putting any of this on paper confining.

I hope new artists will use these two tools as guides and not be afraid to deviate from them. If used as guides, they are a good addition to Painter X.

Painter X has enhanced some of the new tools that were added to Painter 9.5. See my review on Painter 9.5 . The additions were the new palettes that gave the user the ability to automatically turn photographs into paintings. These palettes have been expanded so that more options and controls are available. There are three palettes: the Underpainting palette, the Auto-painting palette, and the Restoration palette. The Underpainting palette has been enhanced with the addition of different types of "underpainting" schemes. In the following examples, the modern and watercolor schemes were used for different effects.

A new feature is the Match Palette effect. Now color and intensity can be matched between two images.

Two new tools are the Dodge and Burn tools. Both these tools are customizable and are excellent additions to the tool's collection.

I was very pleased with the "Enhanced" Color Management found in Painter X. I set it up according to my peripherals, and when I printed an image on my Epson R2400, it matched the monitor. The image on the monitor in Painter X also looked the same in Photoshop CS2. Painter X will retain the color management settings until new adjustments are made.

When I tried to access the color management tutorial in the "welcome to Painter X book" that appears on the initial screen upon opening Painter, no tutorial appeared.

As I stated earlier, each version of Painter has worked more closely with Adobe Photoshop. This version allows Photoshop PSD files formed in Photoshop that contain layers, alpha channels, layer masks, and layer sets to have these same characteristics in Painter.

The first screen capture shows the layers and channels from an image in Photoshop CS2.

And the second screen capture shows the same layers, etc. from the same image opened in Painter X.

Painter X has a lot to offer photographers as well as painters. One can use Painter even if one cannot paint. I like to use the cloning feature and then create different layers on my clone using different brushes, layer opacities, and effects for a new image of a photo that I have taken. Below are two trees from the original image and the "after image." Unfortunately, the images do not show the difference well due to their size. However, at 13 x 19 inches the differences were apparent. You can see, in the upper right corner, an insert showing brush strokes from the new RealBristle brush. The "after image" was basically softer and less defined.

I plan to work with this image and enhance it by adding highlights to the grasses, etc. For that I have set up my own palette of specific brushes. One can set up specific palettes for different purposes and keep them organized.

The support for the Wacom® line is now complete including the Cintiq 21 UX interactive pen display. Corel stated that the new RealBristle painting system was developed to take full advantage of Wacom's 6D Art Pen.

Corel Painter X is designed to run on Windows Vista™. Corel offers enhanced Mac OS® X support and also offers support for the Spotlight™ software utility.

When one purchases and registers Painter X, one is entitled to a number of lessons by Jeremy Sutton that can be downloaded. They appear as links in an e-mail. They were very useful and made me want to purchase more of his instructional material.

This is a well developed new Painter. It is faster and smoother than any I have worked with previously. I worked detailing my image, mentioned above. It is 13 x 19 at 300 dpi. The brush strokes went on swiftly without any hesitation. Painter X also integrates beautifully with Photoshop. (Photoshop CS2 is the one I used.) The more I used Painter X, the more I liked it. Depending on what one does, will depend on which new tools will be the best additions to one's tool chest. The best way to find out if one needs this is to try the fully working 30 day trial. I believe this is Corel's best Painter yet.

The system requirements are:

"Mac OS® version:
• Mac OS® X (version 10.3.9 or higher)
• Power Mac® G4, 700 MHz or greater; or any Macintosh® computer with the
Intel® processor
• 256 MB of RAM (512 MB recommended)
• Mouse or tablet
• 24-bit color display• 1024 × 768 screen resolution
• CD drive

Windows® version:
• Windows 2000, Windows XP Tablet PC, Windows XP Home, Windows XP
Professional, or Windows Vista™ operating system (with latest service packs)
• Pentium® III, 700 MHz or greater
• 256 MB of RAM (512 MB recommended)
• Mouse or tablet
• 24-bit color display
• 1024 × 768 screen resolution
• CD drive"

The cost is $419.00 USD for the full version and $219.00 USD for the upgrade.

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