Ambient Design has released ArtRage 3 Studio and ArtRage 3 Studio Pro, new additions to the company's art-creation product line.

ArtRage 3 Studio Pro ($80/£50) is designed for users who want high-end editing systems and tool settings, while ArtRage 3 Studio ($40/£25) is for users who don't need professional-level functionality. Both versions include all of the program's painting tools.

"The Studio/Pro range is a completely re-engineered product core that allowed us to add lots of new tools and features without bloating the product, and it contains nascent support for a number of features that we will be outlining in the future," said Matt Fox-Wilson, creative director of Ambient Design. "The goal of keeping the product simple is what drove the decision to split the Studio version in two.

"We have had requests for a lot of higher-end features for years, but as we were adding them, it became apparent that the diversity of our user base meant that half of them would never use a number of the things we were doing. So rather than foist the entire feature set on everyone and demand that users learn about things like filtering, micro-layers, and all that stuff, we decided to split the higher-end features off into their own product," Fox-Wilson explained.


The result is now the Studio version, which is ideally suited for people who want to create art and don't have a need for or interest in tweaking color values or precision layout, and the Studio Pro version, which retains internal filters, external filter support, feathered selections, sticker micro-layers, and other more-complex features. That is why both the Studio and Studio Pro versions contain the same painting tools, according to Fox-Wilson. "Studio isn't a cut-down, cheap 'lite' version of Studio Pro, it's a complete product that provides what we believe is the best support for the mid-range of our user base."

ArtRage Studio features new tools, including stickers, a watercolor brush, an auto-smoothing inking pen, flood fill, a selection tool, a text tool that allows live text editing on layers, a special effect gloop pen, and other new items.

You can store presets for each tool that let you find your previous settings quickly and easily, and assign them preview images for easy recognition. In addition, many of the old tools have new settings, including a new wet blender and a square oil brush head. The airbrush is faster and more precise, the pencil lets you apply automatic smoothing to strokes, and all tools can use the new Real Color Blending mode that lets you mix colors more accurately, the company says.

The new versions feature a Canvas Puck, which lets you navigate around your painting quickly. There are also tooltips, a shortcut key for straight line drawing, and DPI support for all image formats. The Transform Tool lets you quickly change the scale, position, and rotation of objects on the canvas. Studio Pro's color adjustment and blur capabilities let you tweak your art without having to leave the product. Sticker Sheets allow single, pre-rendered clip art stickers to be dropped into a painting; the pro version has a sticker sheet creator.

A new interface give users more freedom to arrange panels in the way that works best for them: Tear them off and drop them on another screen, scale and rotate, or change tint. A new Pods feature gives users easy access to important functions without taking up space.

The current product, ArtRage 2.5, will continue to be available for purchase, will continue to receive support, and will be upgraded in the future, the company says. Users of ArtRage 2.x who want to switch to ArtRage Studio or Studio Pro can do so at the discounted price of $25 and $65 respectively.

"Version 2.5 supports OS X 10.3, and it remains a really low-cost way to dive in and try out painting with a simple tool set. We have large numbers of educational users who are teaching very young kids using the product, and any kind of additional complexity would detract from the immediate accessibility of ArtRage. So it made sense for us to maintain version 2.5 as a more basic tool for users," says Fox-Wilson.

ArtRage 3 Studio and ArtRage 3 Studio Pro are universal applications and compatible with OS X 10.4 through 10.6. Both are available for download today from the company's Website.