Corel Painter Essentials 4

Corel Painter Essentials 4

Painter Essentials 4’s uncluttered interface makes it easy to focus on painting instead of finding menu functions.


For 15 years, Painter has been the go-to tool for anyone looking to simulate natural drawing and painting media techniques, from oil and watercolors to pencils, chalks, even crayons. But more than a few aspiring digital artists have found themselves somewhat intimidated by the capable (and dense) interface and toolset. Painter Essentials 4 is the latest incarnation of a boiled-down version of Painter X (4 out of 5 stars, May/07, p56) and contains many of the coolest toys of the full version.


The first thing you notice is a seriously slimmed-down interface that’s easier to use and more straightforward than in previous versions. It’s obvious that Corel did some hard thinking about what needed to go, and how to make what was left much more intuitive and geared toward quick gratification. Another subtle but important addition is that all of the buttons and sliders have been enlarged, making them much more easy to navigate when using a graphics tablet.


Painter’s underlying technology mimics the nuances and look of natural media. The RealBristle feature delivers uncannily accurate representations of hair brushes and the way they flex and push paint on a surface. With a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet, RealBristle is downright fun. The preset brushes, pens, paints, inks, and smearing tools appear in a new pop-up menu called the Brush Drawer, which displays a preview of the effect created by each.


It’s fun to make paintings from scratch, but the old adage, GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), is totally relevant—you need some talent in order to get decent results. To counter this harsh reality, try the Photo Painting mode, which uses one of your digital photos as a basis for the Auto Painting presets, including Impressionist, Seurat, Watercolor, Chalk, and 14 others. Each preset deploys something called Smart Stroke technology to analyze the photo, determine where the major areas of edge and color detail fall, and create an instant artistic rendition. The results are quite lovely, and all offer extensive customization options.


Another addition is the Color Mixer, which provides a perfect simulation of swishing together solid paints to make custom colors and tints. For example, you can create a pastel shade of blue by plopping blue and white paint down and mixing them with a virtual brush. We also appreciate the addition of up to 32 levels of Undo.


The bottom line. Painter Essentials 4 is the perfect tool for anyone wanting the best natural media tools in the digital realm. It’s a slam-dunk Editors’ Choice, and should be considered a natural companion to any graphics tablet



PRICE: $99

REQUIREMENTS: 700MHz G4 or later or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.4 or later, 256MB RAM, 1GB hard drive space

Excellent painting tools. Improved visual interface. Good price. Universal binary.

Nothing, really.





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I have Painter Essentials 3, mainly because it came bundled with my Wacom tablet, and it works quite well.

After using the full version in my graphics class though, it's a bit disappointing when you don't have framestacks and scripts to work with. I actually just used the copy on my school's systems to create knock-off Pop-Up video effects. I matched the Mac alert sound 'Submarine' up to the pop-ups. It wasn't great, but everyone got the idea and thought it was hilarious.

Other from that, I definitely agree with the reviewer, Painter Essentials or Painter [full] are definitely 5/5, awesome, and worth your money.

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