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 computer software for some yrs with Painter 2021, it is introducing a membership option for the first time (£159/$199 a calendar year, £14.ninety nine/$19.ninety nine a month). Long term licences (£359.ninety nine/$429) are nevertheless out there for artists who prefer that, and update pricing (£179.ninety nine/$229 with a discount for early upgraders) applies if you’ve got bought any prior model — all the way back again to when the computer software arrived in an real paint can.

Now that Corel has a couple yrs of yearly releases with options that are well worth upgrading for, introducing a membership helps make perception. But users who prefer to stick with perpetual licences can nevertheless wait around right until a ‘must-have’ function will come along.

Painter 2021 provides far more GPU-accelerated brushes.

Image: Corel

The 2021 model also continues the general performance improvement operate commenced in prior releases: there are far more GPU-accelerated brushes and a lot of new AMD GPUs are now supported for components acceleration. Run the general performance optimiser with any other apps you expect to have open up when making use of Painter to tune the brush accelerator to your components (and to get a rating that will present you technique general performance).


Top: An unique Surface Book with small marks nevertheless provides great painting general performance with GPU brushes. Previously mentioned: A beefy gaming notebook helps make an outstanding Painter technique.

Illustrations or photos: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Even with a small CPU rating on a first-technology Surface Book, GPU-accelerated brushes ended up nevertheless rapidly and responsive with minor or no lag, and switching from brush to brush feels significantly more rapidly than on prior versions. You nevertheless have to lookup for accelerated brushes (type in ‘GPU’, ‘AVX2’ or ‘multicore’ to come across brushes that choose benefit of that components). We might like to see a pre-developed brush set to make it a lot easier to pick amongst just accelerated brushes straight. With macOS Catalina, you can use an iPad as a next display, making use of Apple’s Sidecar function, and Apple Pencil users can tilt the stylus at an angle to manage the form of the brushstroke (catching up with the kind of good manage that Wacom pens have extended made available).

There are a lot of tiny enhancements that will make artists far more effective: you can choose the orientation of the canvas, set the type of layer you want to paint straight into and cover the canvas solely, all from the new graphic display. Additional of the controls you operate with regularly, like Levels, which experienced lagged guiding as opposed to graphics and image modifying resources, are now significantly a lot easier to operate with, with the resources straight on the levels panel. You can include a new layer, change-pick out a number of levels to group or collapse them, flip a layer vertically or horizontally, or ‘lift’ the canvas to operate on it. That implies you can paint two watercolour levels with out just one impacting the paint on the other, and then merge them so you can include outcomes to both at as soon as.


Thick paint is supported by 16 brushes, providing you lots of media type alternatives.

Image: Corel

Thick paint — which genuinely appears to be like like oil, acrylic and other textured paint — is no for a longer period limited to a exclusive layer: you can use it on any layer, can set just how thick the thick paint is, and there are 16 new brushes that operate with thick paint — so you can use chalk, pastel and other media sorts with the texture of thick paint. If you use reference pictures you can transform a image to thick paint to paint on, or you can set the canvas to thick paint. The texturiser lets you implement texture and thickness with out implementing new paint and colour: when you have the colour you want, that lets you get the proper search for your painting with out acquiring to repaint it solely.

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Opt for to protect transparency and you can paint over the precise brush strokes on a picked out layer, which lets you target your paint outcomes incredibly exactly.

It’s also significantly a lot easier to see what brushes operate with precise layer sorts — and if you choose up a brush that isn’t going to operate on the existing layer, Painter will present to make a new layer. You can have that occur quickly, or get the warning each and every time so you know particularly what outcome you will get.


The new AI kinds do not paint the photograph for you, but they do make it significantly quicker to get commenced.

Image: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

Painter 2021 receives a comparable ‘AI styles’ function to CorelDRAW the 12 kinds give you comparable device-studying-pushed outcomes to preferred cell phone applications that transform a image into a mosaic or a van Gogh painting. That is not an try to automate painting, but it does make it significantly more rapidly to build a painting from a reference image so you can then move on to far more imaginative digital artwork.

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Painters get a ton of manage over the new AI kinds: you can set the degree of element, how closely to match the colour and how significantly smoothing to use to eliminate the artefacts produced by implementing the model. Underpaintings lets you modify the brightness and saturation of the outcomes, and when you get a blend of these options that provides the search you want, you can save it as a preset for upcoming time.


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

Image: Corel

The new clone tinting function also operates well for painting by hand based mostly on a image, or for introducing element to an AI model-handled image. Cloning a image source lets you paint regions of the image into your graphic clone tinting lets you tint the graphic you are cloning with a new colour, so you can include green to brown grass and nevertheless get the texture, or make waves a brighter blue as you paint them in.

If the AI model outcome has been too remarkable in just one region, or if you’ve got painted over too significantly of the unique graphic as you operate, you can clone areas of the image back again into your painting, altering the colour as you go. There’s a listing in the brush palette with 14 new brushes that operate well with clone tinting, which includes pencils, watercolours and oils. The more challenging you push, the far more of the clone colour you get the lighter your stroke, the far more of the chosen tint colour is used, so you can get a incredibly refined outcome in just one region and ramp up the colour modify in an additional.

This is a great blend of enhancements to the in general painting workflow: general performance and artist productivity are improved with some outstanding new resources that make it a lot easier for painters to get particularly the outcomes they want, and to experiment with outcomes they may possibly not have tried using prior to. And if you are new to digital painting, you can get straight to the fun aspect with out paying out practically as extended functioning out how to get commenced.

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