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

Corel has been placing out yearly updates to its Painter purely natural media illustration software for some decades with Painter 2021, it can be introducing a membership solution for the initially time (£159/$199 a yr, £14.ninety nine/$19.ninety nine a month). Long lasting licences (£359.ninety nine/$429) are continue to out there for artists who choose that, and enhance pricing (£179.ninety nine/$229 with a price reduction for early upgraders) applies if you’ve bought any earlier variation — all the way again to when the software came in an real paint can.

Now that Corel has a several decades of once-a-year releases with functions that are really worth upgrading for, introducing a membership can make feeling. But buyers who choose to stick with perpetual licences can continue to hold out till a ‘must-have’ function arrives alongside.


Painter 2021 delivers a lot more GPU-accelerated brushes.

Picture: Corel

The 2021 variation also proceeds the effectiveness enhancement work started off in earlier releases: there are a lot more GPU-accelerated brushes and a lot of new AMD GPUs are now supported for components acceleration. Run the effectiveness optimiser with any other programs you hope to have open when employing Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your components (and to get a rating that will demonstrate you program effectiveness).


Prime: An unique Surface area Guide with reduced marks continue to delivers good portray effectiveness with GPU brushes. Over: A beefy gaming laptop can make an superb Painter program.

Photos: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a reduced CPU rating on a initially-technology Surface area Guide, GPU-accelerated brushes had been continue to speedy and responsive with little or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels a great deal more quickly than on earlier variations. You continue to have to search for accelerated brushes (type in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to locate brushes that just take gain of that components). We’d like to see a pre-crafted brush established to make it a lot easier to opt for involving just accelerated brushes specifically. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a next display screen, employing Apple’s Sidecar function, and Apple Pencil buyers can tilt the stylus at an angle to control the shape of the brushstroke (catching up with the form of fine control that Wacom pens have long made available).

There are many compact advancements that will make artists a lot more successful: you can choose the orientation of the canvas, established the type of layer you want to paint specifically into and disguise the canvas solely, all from the new image display screen. More of the controls you work with frequently, like Levels, which experienced lagged at the rear of compared to graphics and photo editing instruments, are now a great deal a lot easier to work with, with the instruments specifically on the layers panel. You can add a new layer, shift-choose multiple layers to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to work on it. That indicates you can paint two watercolour layers without a person influencing the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can add results to equally at after.


Thick paint is supported by sixteen brushes, supplying you lots of media type possibilities.

Picture: Corel

Thick paint — which seriously appears to be like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no longer restricted to a unique layer: you can use it on any layer, can established just how thick the thick paint is, and there are sixteen new brushes that work with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media styles 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 established the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser allows you implement texture and thickness without making use of new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that allows you get the suitable seem for your portray without obtaining to repaint it solely.

Prime ZDNET Assessments

Decide on to maintain transparency and you can paint in excess of the particular brush strokes on a decided on layer, which allows you goal your paint results extremely exactly.

It can be also a great deal a lot easier to see what brushes work with particular layer styles — and if you choose up a brush that won’t work on the present-day layer, Painter will present to make a new layer. You can have that occur mechanically, or get the warning just about every time so you know exactly what effect you are going to get.


The new AI kinds do not paint the picture for you, but they do make it a great deal faster to get started off.

Picture: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 receives a similar ‘AI styles’ function to CorelDRAW the 12 kinds give you similar device-mastering-driven results to common mobile phone applications that change a photo into a mosaic or a van Gogh portray. That is not an endeavor to automate portray, but it does make it a great deal more quickly to make a portray from a reference photo so you can then transfer on to a lot more imaginative digital artwork.

SEE: Handling AI and ML in the company 2020: Tech leaders boost job improvement and implementation (TechRepublic Top quality)

Painters get a whole lot of control in excess of the new AI kinds: you can established the amount of depth, how closely to match the color and how a great deal smoothing to use to take away the artefacts developed by making use of the fashion. Underpaintings allows you change the brightness and saturation of the results, and when you get a mixture of these options that delivers the seem you want, you can preserve it as a preset for up coming time.


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

Picture: Corel

The new clone tinting function also performs well for portray by hand based mostly on a photo, or for introducing depth to an AI fashion-taken care of photo. Cloning a photo resource allows you paint places of the photo into your image clone tinting allows you tint the image you happen to be cloning with a new color, so you can add green to brown grass and continue to get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI fashion effect has been as well remarkable in a person spot, or if you’ve painted in excess of as well a great deal of the unique image as you work, you can clone parts of the photo again into your portray, adjusting the color as you go. There’s a list in the brush palette with 14 new brushes that work well with clone tinting, like pencils, watercolours and oils. The more durable you press, the a lot more of the clone color you get the lighter your stroke, the a lot more of the selected tint color is used, so you can get a extremely delicate effect in a person spot and ramp up the color change in an additional.

This is a good mixture of advancements to the overall portray workflow: effectiveness and artist productivity are enhanced with some superb new instruments that make it a lot easier for painters to get exactly the results they want, and to experiment with results they might not have tried using right before. And if you happen to be new to digital portray, you can get straight to the entertaining part without expending approximately as long operating out how to get started off.

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