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

Corel has been placing out annually updates to its Painter all-natural media illustration software for some yrs with Painter 2021, it’s introducing a subscription selection for the initial time (£159/$199 a yr, £14.99/$19.99 a thirty day period). Everlasting licences (£359.99/$429) are nevertheless readily available for artists who desire that, and […]

Corel has been placing out annually updates to its Painter all-natural media illustration software for some yrs with Painter 2021, it’s introducing a subscription selection for the initial time (£159/$199 a yr, £14.99/$19.99 a thirty day period). Everlasting licences (£359.99/$429) are nevertheless readily available for artists who desire that, and enhance pricing (£179.99/$229 with a low cost for early upgraders) applies if you have purchased any former edition — all the way back again to when the software arrived in an genuine paint can.

Now that Corel has a several yrs of annual releases with capabilities that are worthy of upgrading for, introducing a subscription would make perception. But consumers who desire to stick with perpetual licences can nevertheless wait around until finally a ‘must-have’ attribute arrives alongside.


Painter 2021 delivers extra GPU-accelerated brushes.

Graphic: Corel

The 2021 edition also continues the overall performance improvement function commenced in former releases: there are extra GPU-accelerated brushes and several new AMD GPUs are now supported for hardware acceleration. Operate the overall performance optimiser with any other apps you count on to have open up when working with Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your hardware (and to get a rating that will exhibit you technique overall performance).


Top rated: An first Floor Book with low marks nevertheless provides good painting overall performance with GPU brushes. Above: A beefy gaming laptop would make an superb Painter technique.

Visuals: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a low CPU rating on a initial-generation Floor Book, GPU-accelerated brushes were being nevertheless quick and responsive with small or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels substantially faster than on former versions. You nevertheless have to lookup for accelerated brushes (kind in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to find brushes that acquire gain of that hardware). We would like to see a pre-designed brush established to make it a lot easier to select concerning just accelerated brushes specifically. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a second display, working with Apple’s Sidecar attribute, and Apple Pencil consumers can tilt the stylus at an angle to command the condition of the brushstroke (catching up with the type of fantastic command that Wacom pens have prolonged provided).

There are numerous small improvements that will make artists extra effective: you can pick the orientation of the canvas, established the kind of layer you want to paint specifically into and disguise the canvas solely, all from the new picture display. A lot more of the controls you function with frequently, like Levels, which experienced lagged behind when compared to graphics and image editing equipment, are now substantially a lot easier to function with, with the equipment specifically on the layers panel. You can insert a new layer, shift-decide on many layers to team or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to function on it. That indicates you can paint two watercolour layers with no a single affecting the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can insert outcomes to each at as soon as.


Thick paint is supported by sixteen brushes, offering you plenty of media kind selections.

Graphic: Corel

Thick paint — which actually appears like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no more time limited to a distinctive layer: you can use it on any layer, can established just how thick the thick paint is, and there are sixteen new brushes that function with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media forms with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference shots you can change a image to thick paint to paint on, or you can established the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser allows you use texture and thickness with no making use of new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that allows you get the proper search for your painting with no having to repaint it solely.

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Pick out to preserve transparency and you can paint above the distinct brush strokes on a picked out layer, which allows you concentrate on your paint outcomes extremely specifically.

It is also substantially a lot easier to see what brushes function with distinct layer forms — and if you pick up a brush that will not function on the latest layer, Painter will offer you to make a new layer. You can have that materialize instantly, or get the warning just about every time so you know specifically what outcome you can expect to get.


The new AI models do not paint the picture for you, but they do make it substantially more quickly to get commenced.

Graphic: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 gets a identical ‘AI styles’ attribute to CorelDRAW the twelve models give you identical machine-learning-driven outcomes to preferred cell phone applications that switch a image into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. Which is not an endeavor to automate painting, but it does make it substantially faster to build a painting from a reference image so you can then transfer on to extra artistic electronic artwork.

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the company 2020: Tech leaders increase job advancement and implementation (TechRepublic Quality)

Painters get a lot of command above the new AI models: you can established the degree of detail, how intently to match the color and how substantially smoothing to use to eliminate the artefacts produced by making use of the style. Underpaintings allows you modify the brightness and saturation of the outcomes, and when you get a mixture of these configurations that provides the search you want, you can save it as a preset for following time.


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

Graphic: Corel

The new clone tinting attribute also operates very well for painting by hand based mostly on a image, or for introducing detail to an AI style-addressed image. Cloning a image source allows you paint spots of the image into your picture clone tinting allows you tint the picture you might be cloning with a new color, so you can insert environmentally friendly to brown grass and nevertheless get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI style outcome has been way too spectacular in a single spot, or if you have painted above way too substantially of the first picture as you function, you can clone pieces of the image back again into your painting, changing the color as you go. There is certainly a list in the brush palette with 14 new brushes that function very well with clone tinting, such as pencils, watercolours and oils. The tougher you push, 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 extremely delicate outcome in a single spot and ramp up the color modify in an additional.

This is a good mixture of improvements to the over-all painting workflow: overall performance and artist productivity are improved with some superb new equipment that make it a lot easier for painters to get specifically the outcomes they want, and to experiment with outcomes they could possibly not have attempted just before. And if you might be new to electronic painting, you can get straight to the enjoyable part with no paying virtually as prolonged doing work out how to get commenced.

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