August 3, 2020


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

Corel has been putting out annually updates to its Painter normal media illustration program for some years with Painter 2021, it is introducing a membership alternative for the initial time (£159/$199 a calendar year, £14.99/$19.99 a month). Everlasting licences (£359.99/$429) are continue to out there for artists who like that, and up grade pricing (£179.99/$229 with a price cut for early upgraders) applies if you’ve got acquired any earlier edition — all the way back to when the program came in an precise paint can.

Now that Corel has a couple of years of annual releases with options that are truly worth upgrading for, incorporating a membership would make sense. But users who like to stick with perpetual licences can continue to wait around until eventually a ‘must-have’ element will come together.

Painter 2021 provides additional GPU-accelerated brushes.

Image: Corel

The 2021 edition also carries on the functionality improvement operate started out in earlier releases: there are additional GPU-accelerated brushes and quite a few new AMD GPUs are now supported for hardware acceleration. Run the functionality optimiser with any other purposes you count on to have open up when using Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your hardware (and to get a score that will demonstrate you technique functionality).


Top rated: An first Floor E book with lower marks continue to delivers excellent portray functionality with GPU brushes. Higher than: A beefy gaming notebook would make an great Painter technique.

Photographs: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a lower CPU score on a initial-era Floor E book, GPU-accelerated brushes were continue to quickly and responsive with minimal or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels considerably faster than on earlier variations. You continue to have to look for for accelerated brushes (kind in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to come across brushes that take advantage of that hardware). We would like to see a pre-built brush set to make it easier to pick involving just accelerated brushes immediately. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a 2nd display screen, using Apple’s Sidecar element, and Apple Pencil users can tilt the stylus at an angle to regulate the condition of the brushstroke (catching up with the type of great regulate that Wacom pens have very long provided).

There are quite a few small advancements that will make artists additional successful: you can select the orientation of the canvas, set the kind of layer you want to paint immediately into and disguise the canvas solely, all from the new impression display screen. Much more of the controls you operate with routinely, like Layers, which experienced lagged behind in comparison to graphics and photo enhancing applications, are now considerably easier to operate with, with the applications immediately on the layers panel. You can incorporate a new layer, change-select numerous layers to team 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 just one impacting the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can incorporate consequences to both equally at the moment.


Thick paint is supported by sixteen brushes, supplying you a good deal of media kind choices.

Image: Corel

Thick paint — which truly appears to be like like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no lengthier restricted to a special layer: you can use it on any layer, can set just how thick the thick paint is, and there are sixteen new brushes that operate with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media kinds with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference images you can change a photo 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 colour: when you have the colour you want, that lets you get the ideal search for your portray without obtaining to repaint it solely.

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Pick out to maintain transparency and you can paint about the distinct brush strokes on a picked layer, which lets you target your paint consequences very precisely.

It really is also considerably easier to see what brushes operate with distinct layer kinds — and if you select up a brush that isn’t going to operate on the existing layer, Painter will present to make a new layer. You can have that occur routinely, or get the warning each and every time so you know precisely what impact you will get.


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

Image: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 gets a similar ‘AI styles’ element to CorelDRAW the 12 models give you similar machine-learning-driven consequences to well-known telephone apps that change a photo into a mosaic or a van Gogh portray. That’s not an attempt to automate portray, but it does make it considerably faster to create a portray from a reference photo so you can then move on to additional imaginative digital artwork.

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Painters get a large amount of regulate about the new AI models: you can set the amount of depth, how intently to match the colour and how considerably smoothing to use to eliminate the artefacts established by implementing the type. Underpaintings lets you improve the brightness and saturation of the consequences, and when you get a mix of these configurations that delivers the search you want, you can help save it as a preset for up coming time.


Clone tinting enables you to create new compositions from current or AI-styled artwork. 

Image: Corel

The new clone tinting element also is effective effectively for portray by hand dependent on a photo, or for incorporating depth to an AI type-treated photo. Cloning a photo supply lets you paint spots of the photo into your impression clone tinting lets you tint the impression you might be cloning with a new colour, so you can incorporate green to brown grass and continue to get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI type impact has been also remarkable in just one place, or if you’ve got painted about also considerably of the first impression as you operate, you can clone sections of the photo back into your portray, modifying the colour as you go. You will find a list in the brush palette with fourteen new brushes that operate effectively with clone tinting, which include pencils, watercolours and oils. The harder you push, the additional of the clone colour you get the lighter your stroke, the additional of the selected tint colour is applied, so you can get a very refined impact in just one place and ramp up the colour improve in an additional.

This is a excellent mix of advancements to the in general portray workflow: functionality and artist efficiency are enhanced with some great new applications that make it easier for painters to get precisely the consequences they want, and to experiment with consequences they may possibly not have tried out in advance of. And if you might be new to digital portray, you can get straight to the exciting element without expending virtually as very long doing the job out how to get started out.

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