Corel Painter, My Love HateCorel Painter has been living on my laptop and desktop for a long time now. Every version looks so dang exciting, I just can't seem to pass each one up. Painter 10 was barely useable for me, it was a heavy system hog, Corel 11 fixed all those performance issues, and now 12 is running like gravy, and many items have been removed, some streamlined, some switched.
In all fairness, even Corel suggests that Painter would ideally compliment the use of photoshop as a digital painting tool. Indeed Corel easily opens photoshop .PSD's and appropriately keeps layers and all right where they should be.
My comfort level is in Photoshop, I will admit to constantly becoming frustrated with Painter when I can't simply pop over and find opacity, shape dynamics, rotation and flow settings for the brush I am using. The settings are there, but they are labeled differently and living in different places.The stock brushes, while very organic in feel, can become irritating beyond belief when you just want a quick alteration, like a similar, but finer stroke that flows a little less. You get pulled out of the creation flow to switch brain sides while you hunt for settings. In Photoshop this is a quick adjustment, in Painter, it's more hunting around. You also have to deal with a tool box that lists items like (pencil) (markers) (pastels) (conte) etc.
The traditional artist who has not spent hours, days, and weeks in Photoshop would probably make quick work of the learning curve of Painter. I also have a personal grumbling with the "autopaint" feature that I think some take too much advantage of.
So why even use Painter 12?Watch a couple of Android Jones videos and you will know why. Look at some of his work, and you will be running to the nearest software joint with money in hand eagerly giving it up. As soon as you open up the software with your Wacom Tablet you think,"oh yeah, this is going to be fun!"
Indeed it is VERY fun.
Painter actually uses canvas texture, it's one of the places the software shines brightly. This can be simulated in Photoshop, but Painter has the idea of drawing on paper with a texture nailed down to a science. It was important for the Corel team to match what artists wanted and were comfortable with. This software was build with traditional artists in its' heart, while Photoshop incorporated them much later and a little more awkwardly.
When you pop open the tool bar and grab (Pencil 2B) it performs exactly as you would expect a 2B pencil to do, the same with Felt tip markers, and all other tools. The tools can actually feel so extremely organic, I find it totally affecting my lines and style as I become so completely inspired and enveloped by the look and feel of the materials I am working with.
I often forget to use layers at all when I'm in painter because it accurately conveys the feeling of actually working on the surface. You can't have layers on a real world painting canvas, so I forget I CAN in Painter. Yes, it's that good at replicating the look and feel.
Open a can of turps and spear paint on your hands if you want, but it is no longer necessary.... (although turps and linseed smel soooo good!!.....open a window)
Painter 12 also added a nice feature that Photoshop has TOTALLY missed the boat on. The mirror! You can put a line on the canvas, and what you do one one side is replicated in mirror fashion on the other side or sides. That's right, you can even Kaleidoscope it with many mirror lines. When it comes to drawing faces and what not, just the single mirrored plane is worth its' weight in GOLD!
For casual sketching I find myself in Painter frequently, becoming inspired by the strokes and lines that can be created. My refinement of images seems to come through in Photoshop.
However, I think everyone should do themselves a favor and push through the learning curve of Painter. For a digital artist, it is ideal once you learn the software. Entire Comic book / Graphic novels are being made in Painter, not to mention gallery artists and performance artists like Android Jones.
The love / hate ends with love, but it is necessary to approach it with the idea that Painter does something different than Photoshop, it is not trying to replicate or replace it.