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

Corel has been putting out annually updates to its Painter purely natural media illustration computer software for some decades with Painter 2021, it really is introducing a subscription alternative for the very first time (£159/$199 a calendar year, £14.99/$19.99 a month). Lasting licences (£359.99/$429) are continue to offered for artists who like that, and upgrade pricing (£179.99/$229 with a lower price for early upgraders) applies if you’ve got acquired any previous edition — all the way back again to when the computer software arrived in an actual paint can.

Now that Corel has a several decades of yearly releases with functions that are worth upgrading for, introducing a subscription makes sense. But users who like to adhere with perpetual licences can continue to wait around right until a ‘must-have’ aspect comes alongside.


Painter 2021 delivers additional GPU-accelerated brushes.

Picture: Corel

The 2021 edition also proceeds the efficiency enhancement do the job began in previous releases: there are additional GPU-accelerated brushes and quite a few new AMD GPUs are now supported for hardware acceleration. Operate the efficiency optimiser with any other programs you count on to have open when applying Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your hardware (and to get a score that will show you system efficiency).


Prime: An unique Floor E-book with low marks continue to delivers very good painting efficiency with GPU brushes. Previously mentioned: A beefy gaming laptop computer makes an superb Painter system.

Pictures: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a low CPU score on a very first-technology Floor E-book, GPU-accelerated brushes were being continue to quickly and responsive with very little or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels considerably more rapidly than on previous variations. You continue to have to look for for accelerated brushes (sort in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to find brushes that take benefit of that hardware). We would like to see a pre-crafted brush established to make it less complicated to choose involving just accelerated brushes straight. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a next display screen, applying Apple’s Sidecar aspect, and Apple Pencil users can tilt the stylus at an angle to regulate the condition of the brushstroke (catching up with the sort of great regulate that Wacom pens have very long presented).

There are a lot of tiny enhancements that will make artists additional effective: you can decide the orientation of the canvas, established the sort of layer you want to paint straight into and cover the canvas fully, all from the new image display screen. More of the controls you do the job with frequently, like Layers, which experienced lagged driving compared to graphics and photo modifying instruments, are now considerably less complicated to do the job with, with the instruments straight on the layers panel. You can insert a new layer, shift-pick out several layers to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to do the job on it. That suggests you can paint two watercolour layers without having just one influencing the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can insert results to each at once.


Thick paint is supported by 16 brushes, offering you loads of media sort choices.

Picture: Corel

Thick paint — which seriously looks like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no for a longer period limited to a special layer: you can use it on any layer, can established just how thick the thick paint is, and there are 16 new brushes that do the job with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media styles with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference pictures you can change a photo to thick paint to paint on, or you can established the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser lets you apply texture and thickness without having implementing new paint and colour: when you have the colour you want, that lets you get the suitable glimpse for your painting without having obtaining to repaint it fully.

Prime ZDNET Critiques

Pick to protect transparency and you can paint about the certain brush strokes on a decided on layer, which lets you concentrate on your paint results quite precisely.

It is really also considerably less complicated to see what brushes do the job with certain layer styles — and if you decide up a brush that would not do the job on the latest layer, Painter will offer you to make a new layer. You can have that take place quickly, or get the warning every time so you know just what effect you are going to get.


The new AI models do not paint the image for you, but they do make it considerably more rapidly to get began.

Picture: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 receives a related ‘AI styles’ aspect to CorelDRAW the twelve models give you related equipment-studying-pushed results to popular telephone applications that convert a photo into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. That’s not an try to automate painting, but it does make it considerably more rapidly to create a painting from a reference photo so you can then shift on to additional resourceful electronic artwork.

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the company 2020: Tech leaders raise undertaking advancement and implementation (TechRepublic Top quality)

Painters get a good deal of regulate about the new AI models: you can established the level of element, how intently to match the colour and how considerably smoothing to use to remove the artefacts developed by implementing the design. Underpaintings lets you modify the brightness and saturation of the results, and when you get a blend of these settings that delivers the glimpse you want, you can conserve it as a preset for subsequent time.


Clone tinting will allow you to create new compositions from existing or AI-styled artwork. 

Picture: Corel

The new clone tinting aspect also will work properly for painting by hand centered on a photo, or for introducing element to an AI design-taken care of photo. Cloning a photo resource lets you paint regions of the photo into your image clone tinting lets you tint the image you are cloning with a new colour, so you can insert inexperienced to brown grass and continue to get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI design effect has been much too remarkable in just one place, or if you’ve got painted about much too considerably of the unique image as you do the job, you can clone components of the photo back again into your painting, modifying the colour as you go. You can find a record in the brush palette with fourteen new brushes that do the job properly with clone tinting, which includes pencils, watercolours and oils. The tougher you press, the additional of the clone colour you get the lighter your stroke, the additional of the picked tint colour is utilized, so you can get a quite refined effect in just one place and ramp up the colour modify in yet another.

This is a very good blend of enhancements to the total painting workflow: efficiency and artist productiveness are improved with some superb new instruments that make it less complicated for painters to get just the results they want, and to experiment with results they could possibly not have attempted just before. And if you are new to electronic painting, you can get straight to the fun component without having shelling out just about as very long performing out how to get began.

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