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 software package for some years with Painter 2021, it can be introducing a subscription possibility for the very first time (£159/$199 a 12 months, £14.ninety nine/$19.ninety nine a month). Long term licences (£359.ninety nine/$429) are however available for artists who favor that, and up grade pricing (£179.ninety nine/$229 with a low cost for early upgraders) applies if you have purchased any prior version — all the way again to when the software package arrived in an genuine paint can.

Now that Corel has a couple of years of annual releases with functions that are value upgrading for, incorporating a subscription tends to make feeling. But consumers who favor to stick with perpetual licences can however wait until eventually a ‘must-have’ element will come together.


Painter 2021 gives much more GPU-accelerated brushes.

Impression: Corel

The 2021 version also continues the efficiency enhancement get the job done started out in prior releases: there are much more GPU-accelerated brushes and many new AMD GPUs are now supported for hardware acceleration. Operate the efficiency optimiser with any other purposes you be expecting to have open up when utilizing Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your hardware (and to get a score that will present you system efficiency).


Top: An initial Surface area Ebook with very low marks however delivers great portray efficiency with GPU brushes. Higher than: A beefy gaming notebook tends to make an fantastic Painter system.

Images: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a very low CPU score on a very first-generation Surface area Ebook, GPU-accelerated brushes had been however quickly and responsive with very little or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels much quicker than on prior versions. You however have to lookup for accelerated brushes (kind in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to come across brushes that acquire advantage of that hardware). We would like to see a pre-developed brush established to make it a lot easier to decide on between just accelerated brushes immediately. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a second display screen, utilizing Apple’s Sidecar element, and Apple Pencil consumers can tilt the stylus at an angle to command the shape of the brushstroke (catching up with the type of wonderful command that Wacom pens have extensive offered).

There are several little enhancements that will make artists much more productive: you can select the orientation of the canvas, established the kind of layer you want to paint immediately into and disguise the canvas entirely, all from the new picture display screen. Much more of the controls you get the job done with frequently, like Layers, which experienced lagged driving when compared to graphics and image modifying applications, are now much a lot easier to get the job done with, with the applications immediately on the levels panel. You can add a new layer, shift-decide on numerous levels to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to get the job done on it. That means you can paint two watercolour levels with out a single impacting the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can add consequences to both of those at the moment.


Thick paint is supported by 16 brushes, providing you a lot of media kind solutions.

Impression: Corel

Thick paint — which definitely appears to be like like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no extended limited to a particular layer: you can use it on any layer, can established just how thick the thick paint is, and there are 16 new brushes that get the job done with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media varieties with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference images you can change a image to thick paint to paint on, or you can established the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser lets you apply texture and thickness with out implementing new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that lets you get the ideal glimpse for your portray with out obtaining to repaint it entirely.

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Opt for to preserve transparency and you can paint in excess of the precise brush strokes on a picked layer, which lets you goal your paint consequences incredibly exactly.

It truly is also much a lot easier to see what brushes get the job done with precise layer varieties — and if you select up a brush that would not get the job done on the existing layer, Painter will offer you to make a new layer. You can have that occur quickly, or get the warning every time so you know accurately what outcome you will get.


The new AI designs do not paint the picture for you, but they do make it much faster to get started out.

Impression: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 receives a related ‘AI styles’ element to CorelDRAW the twelve designs give you related device-discovering-pushed consequences to well known cellphone apps that flip a image into a mosaic or a van Gogh portray. That is not an endeavor to automate portray, but it does make it much quicker to make a portray from a reference image so you can then go on to much more resourceful digital artwork.

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Painters get a large amount of command in excess of the new AI designs: you can established the amount of element, how intently to match the color and how much smoothing to use to clear away the artefacts made by implementing the design and style. Underpaintings lets you transform the brightness and saturation of the consequences, and when you get a mix of these options that delivers the glimpse you want, you can help save it as a preset for next time.


Clone tinting lets you to make new compositions from present or AI-styled artwork. 

Impression: Corel

The new clone tinting element also functions well for portray by hand centered on a image, or for incorporating element to an AI design and style-taken care of image. Cloning a image resource lets you paint areas of the image into your picture clone tinting lets you tint the picture you happen to be cloning with a new color, so you can add inexperienced to brown grass and however get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI design and style outcome has been too remarkable in a single space, or if you have painted in excess of too much of the initial picture as you get the job done, you can clone components of the image again into your portray, altering the color as you go. You will find a list in the brush palette with 14 new brushes that get the job done well with clone tinting, which include pencils, watercolours and oils. The more durable you push, the much more of the clone color you get the lighter your stroke, the much more of the selected tint color is applied, so you can get a incredibly subtle outcome in a single space and ramp up the color transform in one more.

This is a great mix of enhancements to the in general portray workflow: efficiency and artist productiveness are enhanced with some fantastic new applications that make it a lot easier for painters to get accurately the consequences they want, and to experiment with consequences they may not have experimented with just before. And if you happen to be new to digital portray, you can get straight to the entertaining section with out shelling out just about as extensive performing out how to get started out.

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