In the mid ’90s Fractal Design’s Painter (Fractal Design was eventually purchased by Metacreations which, in turn, was eventually purchased by Corel) was a computer artist’s dream come true. Back then, Painter, the first digital painting package to offer a long list of natural media, was in head-to-head competition with Adobe Photoshop. In later releases those two packages took different directions. Adobe Photoshop aimed to be an image editing and processing tool and Painter focused on becoming a first-rate digital painting program.
To make Photoshop the essential tool for quality imagemaking, the designers emphasized its solid and powerful interface. At the same time, Painter programmers were adding several excellent features in every new release of their product, while failing to make the needed improvements to its interface. This alone made Painter a package that was difficult to learn and to use. Another problem with Painter was its incompatibility with Photoshop. In a world where anybody dealing with images had to support the Photoshop file format, this was a grave mistake. Regardless of these problems, many computer artists were able to learn Painter to create highly artistic projects.
With that background information, you can understand how thrilled I was when I received Corel’s Painter 8 and found out that most of the previous shortcomings were solved. The new Painter 8 interface is clean, simple, solid and easy to understand. Now every tool set is easy to find and modify. For example, when you select a brush, a drop-down menu allows you to pick up your desired brush and another menu next to it lets you access the brush sub selections.
Painter 8 also offers compatibility with Photoshop files and enhances support for opening and saving Adobe Photoshop files, including layer ets, layer masks and channels. It matches the latest operating systems (fully compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP), and comes with 400 new brushes, allowing the user to simulate any existing analog painting style and even create new ones!
Good News: The new Sketch effect creates a quick outline from any source material. This is a good alternative if you are not a great artist, and you don’t wish to use the Tracing Paper tool. The other good news for Painter users is that Karen Spelling, the well-known author of the Painter tutorials, has Painter 8 tutorials ready to ship! (Check out www.artistrymag.com.)
Wish List: Painter’s animation tools haven’t been touched for years. Along with the new improvements implemented in Painter, creating a powerful animation module should add thousands of new users to the painter crowd.
The Bottom Line: Without a doubt, Painter 8 is a great package for creation of textures and background paintings, and best of all, you don’t have to be a Rembrandt to use it.
Web address: www.corel.com
Final Score: *****
Animation Magazine’s Seal of Excellence
Ease of Use ****
Power of Tools *****
Quality and Depth *****