Corel has been placing out yearly updates to its Painter natural media illustration software program for some yrs with Painter 2021, it’s introducing a membership choice for the first time (£159/$199 a yr, £14.99/$19.99 a month). Long lasting licences (£359.99/$429) are however offered for artists who desire that, and enhance pricing (£179.99/$229 with a discount for early upgraders) applies if you’ve got acquired any preceding variation — all the way back to when the software program came in an real paint can.

Now that Corel has a couple of yrs of yearly releases with capabilities that are value upgrading for, including a membership tends to make feeling. But people who desire to stick with perpetual licences can however wait around right up until a ‘must-have’ characteristic will come together.

Painter 2021 delivers far more GPU-accelerated brushes.

Graphic: Corel

The 2021 variation also continues the performance advancement perform started off in preceding releases: there are far more GPU-accelerated brushes and several new AMD GPUs are now supported for components acceleration. Operate the performance optimiser with any other applications you assume to have open when utilizing Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your components (and to get a score that will display you technique performance).


Best: An authentic Surface area E book with lower marks however delivers good painting performance with GPU brushes. Higher than: A beefy gaming laptop computer tends to make an great Painter technique.

Photographs: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a lower CPU score on a first-technology Surface area E book, GPU-accelerated brushes were however quickly and responsive with minimal or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels substantially faster than on preceding variations. You however have to search for accelerated brushes (kind in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to find brushes that acquire gain of that components). We might like to see a pre-designed brush set to make it less complicated to decide on among just accelerated brushes specifically. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a 2nd screen, utilizing Apple’s Sidecar characteristic, and Apple Pencil people can tilt the stylus at an angle to handle the condition of the brushstroke (catching up with the variety of great handle that Wacom pens have long presented).

There are various tiny advancements that will make artists far more successful: you can pick the orientation of the canvas, set the kind of layer you want to paint specifically into and hide the canvas entirely, all from the new image screen. A lot more of the controls you perform with often, like Levels, which had lagged guiding as opposed to graphics and photograph enhancing resources, are now substantially less complicated to perform with, with the resources specifically on the levels panel. You can incorporate a new layer, change-select numerous levels to team or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to perform on it. That means you can paint two watercolour levels without 1 affecting the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can incorporate outcomes to equally at as soon as.


Thick paint is supported by sixteen brushes, offering you lots of media kind choices.

Graphic: Corel

Thick paint — which truly seems to be like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no more time restricted to a special layer: you can use it on any layer, can set just how thick the thick paint is, and there are sixteen new brushes that perform with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media styles with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference pics you can change a photograph to thick paint to paint on, or you can set the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser lets you utilize texture and thickness without implementing new paint and color: when you have the color you want, that lets you get the ideal glance for your painting without obtaining to repaint it entirely.

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Pick to protect transparency and you can paint more than the particular brush strokes on a picked layer, which lets you target your paint outcomes very exactly.

It can be also substantially less complicated to see what brushes perform with particular layer styles — and if you pick up a brush that would not perform on the current layer, Painter will provide to make a new layer. You can have that happen automatically, or get the warning every single time so you know particularly what result you can expect to get.


The new AI variations do not paint the image for you, but they do make it substantially more quickly to get started off.

Graphic: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 gets a equivalent ‘AI styles’ characteristic to CorelDRAW the 12 variations give you equivalent equipment-finding out-pushed outcomes to preferred mobile phone applications that flip a photograph into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. That’s not an attempt to automate painting, but it does make it substantially faster to generate a painting from a reference photograph so you can then transfer on to far more creative digital artwork.

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Painters get a great deal of handle more than the new AI variations: you can set the level of depth, how intently to match the color and how substantially smoothing to use to take out the artefacts made by implementing the style. Underpaintings lets you change the brightness and saturation of the outcomes, and when you get a blend of these settings that delivers the glance you want, you can preserve it as a preset for up coming time.


Clone tinting will allow you to generate new compositions from present or AI-styled artwork. 

Graphic: Corel

The new clone tinting characteristic also functions effectively for painting by hand primarily based on a photograph, or for including depth to an AI style-dealt with photograph. Cloning a photograph resource lets you paint locations of the photograph into your image clone tinting lets you tint the image you’re cloning with a new color, so you can incorporate green to brown grass and however get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI style result has been way too dramatic in 1 region, or if you’ve got painted more than way too substantially of the authentic image as you perform, you can clone elements of the photograph back into your painting, altering the color as you go. There’s a checklist in the brush palette with fourteen new brushes that perform effectively with clone tinting, including pencils, watercolours and oils. The more durable you push, the far more of the clone color you get the lighter your stroke, the far more of the chosen tint color is utilized, so you can get a very delicate result in 1 region and ramp up the color change in one more.

This is a good blend of advancements to the total painting workflow: performance and artist productiveness are improved with some great new resources that make it less complicated for painters to get particularly the outcomes they want, and to experiment with outcomes they might not have experimented with just before. And if you’re new to digital painting, you can get straight to the pleasurable portion without shelling out practically as long operating out how to get started off.

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