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

Corel has been putting out annually updates to its Painter organic media illustration computer software

Corel has been putting out annually updates to its Painter organic media illustration computer software for some a long time with Painter 2021, it is really introducing a subscription selection for the initially time (£159/$199 a 12 months, £14.99/$19.99 a thirty day period). Permanent licences (£359.99/$429) are continue to readily available for artists who favor that, and up grade pricing (£179.99/$229 with a discount for early upgraders) applies if you have acquired any prior edition — all the way back again to when the computer software arrived in an genuine paint can.

Now that Corel has a couple a long time of yearly releases with features that are value upgrading for, incorporating a subscription makes feeling. But users who favor to stick with perpetual licences can continue to wait around till a ‘must-have’ characteristic arrives together.


Painter 2021 presents a lot more GPU-accelerated brushes.

Graphic: Corel

The 2021 edition also proceeds the efficiency advancement operate began in prior releases: there are a lot more GPU-accelerated brushes and several new AMD GPUs are now supported for components acceleration. Operate the efficiency optimiser with any other apps you hope to have open when utilizing Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your components (and to get a rating that will clearly show you technique efficiency).


Best: An first Floor E book with low marks continue to provides good painting efficiency with GPU brushes. Previously mentioned: A beefy gaming laptop computer makes an fantastic Painter technique.

Pictures: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a low CPU rating on a initially-technology Floor E book, GPU-accelerated brushes were being continue to rapidly and responsive with tiny or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels substantially speedier than on prior variations. You continue to have to research for accelerated brushes (kind in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to locate brushes that acquire advantage of that components). We would like to see a pre-developed brush set to make it simpler to pick out involving just accelerated brushes straight. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a next display, utilizing Apple’s Sidecar characteristic, and Apple Pencil users can tilt the stylus at an angle to regulate the shape of the brushstroke (catching up with the sort of fine regulate that Wacom pens have long provided).

There are numerous smaller improvements that will make artists a lot more successful: you can pick the orientation of the canvas, set the kind of layer you want to paint straight into and conceal the canvas solely, all from the new image display. A lot more of the controls you operate with routinely, like Layers, which experienced lagged behind compared to graphics and picture modifying equipment, are now substantially simpler to operate with, with the equipment straight on the layers panel. You can include a new layer, change-select a number of layers to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to operate on it. That usually means you can paint two watercolour layers without having 1 influencing the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can include consequences to both at after.


Thick paint is supported by 16 brushes, giving you a lot of media kind alternatives.

Graphic: Corel

Thick paint — which actually appears like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no longer restricted to a exclusive layer: you can use it on any layer, can set just how thick the thick paint is, and there are 16 new brushes that operate with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media sorts with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference pics you can convert a picture to thick paint to paint on, or you can set the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser allows you implement texture and thickness without having implementing new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that allows you get the proper search for your painting without having possessing to repaint it solely.

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Pick out to preserve transparency and you can paint more than the precise brush strokes on a decided on layer, which allows you target your paint consequences really exactly.

It truly is also substantially simpler to see what brushes operate with precise layer sorts — and if you pick up a brush that doesn’t operate on the present-day layer, Painter will supply to make a new layer. You can have that come about routinely, or get the warning each and every time so you know just what effect you may get.


The new AI styles do not paint the photo for you, but they do make it substantially more quickly to get began.

Graphic: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 gets a similar ‘AI styles’ characteristic to CorelDRAW the twelve styles give you similar equipment-studying-driven consequences to popular cell phone apps that switch a picture into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. That is not an attempt to automate painting, but it does make it substantially speedier to develop a painting from a reference picture so you can then go on to a lot more innovative digital artwork.

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Painters get a large amount of regulate more than the new AI styles: you can set the level of element, how intently to match the color and how substantially smoothing to use to get rid of the artefacts produced by implementing the style. Underpaintings allows you adjust the brightness and saturation of the consequences, and when you get a mixture of these configurations that provides the search you want, you can help save it as a preset for upcoming time.


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

Graphic: Corel

The new clone tinting characteristic also performs well for painting by hand based on a picture, or for incorporating element to an AI style-treated picture. Cloning a picture source allows you paint spots of the picture into your image clone tinting allows you tint the image you’re cloning with a new color, so you can include environmentally friendly to brown grass and continue to get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI style effect has been far too dramatic in 1 region, or if you have painted more than far too substantially of the first image as you operate, you can clone components of the picture back again into your painting, altering the color as you go. There is a record in the brush palette with fourteen new brushes that operate well with clone tinting, like pencils, watercolours and oils. The more challenging you press, the a lot more of the clone color you get the lighter your stroke, the a lot more of the selected tint color is utilized, so you can get a really subtle effect in 1 region and ramp up the color adjust in another.

This is a good mixture of improvements to the general painting workflow: efficiency and artist productiveness are improved with some fantastic new equipment that make it simpler for painters to get just the consequences they want, and to experiment with consequences they may not have tried using in advance of. And if you’re new to digital painting, you can get straight to the entertaining element without having investing nearly as long doing work out how to get began.

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