May 23, 2024


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Corel Painter 2021, hands on: Performance and productivity improvements, plus a subscription model Review

Corel has been placing out annually updates to its Painter normal media illustration software program for some a long time with Painter 2021, it truly is introducing a subscription selection for the very first time (£159/$199 a year, £14.99/$19.99 a month). Long lasting licences (£359.99/$429) are still offered for artists who choose that, and update pricing (£179.99/$229 with a low cost for early upgraders) applies if you’ve got purchased any former edition — all the way back again to when the software program came in an genuine paint can.

Now that Corel has a number of a long time of annual releases with functions that are worthy of upgrading for, including a subscription would make sense. But users who choose to stick with perpetual licences can still hold out until finally a ‘must-have’ aspect arrives along.


Painter 2021 provides extra GPU-accelerated brushes.

Picture: Corel

The 2021 edition also carries on the functionality improvement get the job done began in former releases: there are extra GPU-accelerated brushes and many new AMD GPUs are now supported for hardware acceleration. Run the functionality optimiser with any other applications you assume to have open up when using Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your hardware (and to get a rating that will present you method functionality).


Top: An primary Surface area E book with lower marks still delivers very good painting functionality with GPU brushes. Above: A beefy gaming notebook would make an outstanding Painter method.

Images: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a lower CPU rating on a very first-technology Surface area E book, GPU-accelerated brushes ended up still quick and responsive with minor or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels considerably more quickly than on former variations. You still have to lookup for accelerated brushes (form in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to find brushes that acquire gain of that hardware). We would like to see a pre-crafted brush set to make it easier to opt for between just accelerated brushes straight. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a next display, using Apple’s Sidecar aspect, and Apple Pencil users can tilt the stylus at an angle to handle the form of the brushstroke (catching up with the sort of good handle that Wacom pens have prolonged supplied).

There are quite a few smaller improvements that will make artists extra effective: you can select the orientation of the canvas, set the form of layer you want to paint straight into and cover the canvas solely, all from the new graphic display. Far more of the controls you get the job done with regularly, like Levels, which experienced lagged guiding as opposed to graphics and photograph enhancing applications, are now considerably easier to get the job done with, with the applications straight on the levels panel. You can include a new layer, shift-pick numerous levels to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to get the job done on it. That usually means you can paint two watercolour levels without a single influencing the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can include outcomes to the two at the moment.


Thick paint is supported by sixteen brushes, offering you plenty of media form alternatives.

Picture: Corel

Thick paint — which genuinely looks like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no lengthier restricted to a exclusive layer: you can use it on any layer, can set just how thick the thick paint is, and there are sixteen new brushes that get the job done with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media forms with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference pictures you can transform a photograph to thick paint to paint on, or you can set the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser lets you use texture and thickness without implementing new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that lets you get the ideal seem for your painting without possessing to repaint it solely.

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Opt for to preserve transparency and you can paint over the certain brush strokes on a chosen layer, which lets you focus on your paint outcomes incredibly specifically.

It really is also considerably easier to see what brushes get the job done with certain layer forms — and if you select up a brush that would not get the job done on the latest layer, Painter will supply to make a new layer. You can have that come about instantly, or get the warning each and every time so you know just what effect you can get.


The new AI models do not paint the photograph for you, but they do make it considerably faster to get began.

Picture: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 gets a similar ‘AI styles’ aspect to CorelDRAW the twelve models give you similar equipment-mastering-pushed outcomes to common phone apps that change a photograph into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. That is not an endeavor to automate painting, but it does make it considerably more quickly to generate a painting from a reference photograph so you can then transfer on to extra innovative electronic artwork.

SEE: Running AI and ML in the business 2020: Tech leaders enhance undertaking development and implementation (TechRepublic Premium)

Painters get a whole lot of handle over the new AI models: you can set the amount of detail, how closely to match the color and how considerably smoothing to use to take out the artefacts created by implementing the style. Underpaintings lets you alter the brightness and saturation of the outcomes, and when you get a combination of these options that delivers the seem you want, you can preserve it as a preset for up coming time.


Clone tinting will allow you to generate new compositions from present or AI-styled artwork. 

Picture: Corel

The new clone tinting aspect also functions effectively for painting by hand primarily based on a photograph, or for including detail to an AI style-dealt with photograph. Cloning a photograph resource lets you paint regions of the photograph into your graphic clone tinting lets you tint the graphic you are cloning with a new color, so you can include eco-friendly to brown grass and still get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI style effect has been much too extraordinary in a single area, or if you’ve got painted over much too considerably of the primary graphic as you get the job done, you can clone areas of the photograph back again into your painting, changing the color as you go. There is a checklist in the brush palette with fourteen new brushes that get the job done effectively with clone tinting, which include pencils, watercolours and oils. The more difficult you press, the extra of the clone color you get the lighter your stroke, the extra of the picked tint color is used, so you can get a incredibly subtle effect in a single area and ramp up the color alter in an additional.

This is a very good combination of improvements to the overall painting workflow: functionality and artist productiveness are improved with some outstanding new applications that make it easier for painters to get just the outcomes they want, and to experiment with outcomes they may not have experimented with prior to. And if you are new to electronic painting, you can get straight to the enjoyable aspect without spending approximately as prolonged doing the job out how to get began.

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