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

6 min read

Corel has been putting out yearly updates to its Painter organic media illustration application for some decades with Painter 2021, it truly is introducing a membership selection for the initial time (£159/$199 a 12 months, £14.99/$19.99 a month). Long lasting licences (£359.99/$429) are still obtainable for artists who desire that, and enhance pricing (£179.99/$229 with a price cut for early upgraders) applies if you have bought any preceding model — all the way again to when the application arrived in an actual paint can.

Now that Corel has a few decades of once-a-year releases with attributes that are value upgrading for, adding a membership makes sense. But consumers who desire to stick with perpetual licences can still wait until a ‘must-have’ characteristic arrives alongside.

Painter 2021 features additional GPU-accelerated brushes.

Picture: Corel

The 2021 model also continues the effectiveness enhancement perform started out in preceding releases: there are additional GPU-accelerated brushes and numerous new AMD GPUs are now supported for hardware acceleration. Operate the effectiveness optimiser with any other purposes you hope to have open when utilizing Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your hardware (and to get a score that will present you program effectiveness).


Top rated: An primary Floor E book with small marks still provides great painting effectiveness with GPU brushes. Higher than: A beefy gaming laptop makes an great Painter program.

Pictures: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a small CPU score on a initial-generation Floor E book, GPU-accelerated brushes have been still quickly and responsive with small or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels much more rapidly than on preceding versions. You still have to lookup for accelerated brushes (kind in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to come across brushes that consider gain of that hardware). We’d like to see a pre-crafted brush set to make it less complicated to select between just accelerated brushes instantly. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a second monitor, utilizing Apple’s Sidecar characteristic, and Apple Pencil consumers can tilt the stylus at an angle to handle the form of the brushstroke (catching up with the variety of fantastic handle that Wacom pens have long made available).

There are numerous little advancements that will make artists additional productive: you can decide the orientation of the canvas, set the kind of layer you want to paint instantly into and cover the canvas completely, all from the new picture monitor. Additional of the controls you perform with often, like Layers, which had lagged behind as opposed to graphics and photo editing tools, are now much less complicated to perform with, with the tools instantly on the levels panel. You can increase a new layer, shift-find various levels to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to perform on it. That usually means you can paint two watercolour levels with no a single influencing the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can increase results to both equally at after.


Thick paint is supported by 16 brushes, offering you loads of media kind choices.

Picture: Corel

Thick paint — which genuinely appears to be like like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no more time limited to a special layer: you can use it on any layer, can set just how thick the thick paint is, and there are 16 new brushes that perform with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media types with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference shots you can convert a photo to thick paint to paint on, or you can set the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser allows you apply texture and thickness with no implementing new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that allows you get the ideal search for your painting with no possessing to repaint it completely.

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Pick out to preserve transparency and you can paint over the certain brush strokes on a selected layer, which allows you concentrate on your paint results very precisely.

It truly is also much less complicated to see what brushes perform with certain layer types — and if you decide up a brush that won’t perform on the current layer, Painter will offer to make a new layer. You can have that materialize quickly, or get the warning just about every time so you know just what result you can get.


The new AI types do not paint the photograph for you, but they do make it much more rapidly to get started out.

Picture: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 will get a similar ‘AI styles’ characteristic to CorelDRAW the twelve types give you similar equipment-learning-pushed results to well known cellular phone apps that transform a photo into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. That’s not an attempt to automate painting, but it does make it much more rapidly to build a painting from a reference photo so you can then shift on to additional innovative digital artwork.

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the company 2020: Tech leaders enhance venture improvement and implementation (TechRepublic High quality)

Painters get a great deal of handle over the new AI types: you can set the level of detail, how carefully to match the color and how much smoothing to use to get rid of the artefacts made by implementing the design. Underpaintings allows you adjust the brightness and saturation of the results, and when you get a mixture of these configurations that provides the search you want, you can help save it as a preset for following time.


Clone tinting makes it possible for you to build new compositions from existing or AI-styled artwork. 

Picture: Corel

The new clone tinting characteristic also works effectively for painting by hand centered on a photo, or for adding detail to an AI design-taken care of photo. Cloning a photo supply allows you paint parts of the photo into your picture clone tinting allows you tint the picture you are cloning with a new color, so you can increase eco-friendly to brown grass and still get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI design result has been far too extraordinary in a single space, or if you have painted over far too much of the primary picture as you perform, you can clone components of the photo again into your painting, adjusting the color as you go. You can find a listing in the brush palette with fourteen new brushes that perform effectively with clone tinting, including pencils, watercolours and oils. The harder you push, the additional of the clone color you get the lighter your stroke, the additional of the chosen tint color is applied, so you can get a very delicate result in a single space and ramp up the color adjust in another.

This is a great mixture of advancements to the total painting workflow: effectiveness and artist productivity are enhanced with some great new tools that make it less complicated for painters to get just the results they want, and to experiment with results they could not have tried ahead of. And if you are new to digital painting, you can get straight to the enjoyment element with no expending virtually as long doing work out how to get started out.

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