Art made easy: PAINTER 8

Many feats of human dexterity don’t translate to a computer environment: shaking someone’s hand, playing a guitar, performing open-heart surgery. But CorelPAINTER 8 makes the delicate art of painting on a digital canvas not just possible but fun.

Ideally used with a drawing tablet, PAINTER 8 is a highly creative application that successfully mimics creating art with charcoal, watercolours and oil paint. Daub the on-screen ‘paper’ with a watercolour paint, for example, and the media bleeds and runs realistically, even after you lift the brush.

The $679 program includes 400 more brush types than the previous edition (you can also create your own). You can achieve different textures by varying the pressure you apply to the drawing tablet, as well. Similarly, a new paint mixer works the way spreading paint on a real palette does, letting you create subtle colour variations.

PAINTER 8 offers numerous other enhancements over version 7, including a better interface, faster response times, and additional customisable features. You can create multiple layers, and PAINTER 8 lets you make layer masks, in which you can add new effects as layers without modifying the original image.

PAINTER 8’s revised interface makes it feel somewhat like an Adobe application ( see here for a screenshot), with tool modifiers residing in a bar across the top, and layer and channel palettes along the right side of the screen.

I found plenty to like in PAINTER 8. In the hands of a real artist — or even of a stick-figure artist like me — it offers features that truly inspire.

In brief: CorelPAINTER 8
A toolbox that offers infinite possibilities — minus the cleanup.
Price: $679, upgrade $329
Vendor: Corel
Phone: 1800 658 850
URL: www.corel.com

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