• Price: £229 plus VAT, free upgrade from v12

  • Company: Corel

  • Pros: New watercolour flowmaps; brush types miles ahead of Photoshop’s

  • Cons: Steep learning curve; unintuitive interface

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

The world of digital painting tends to be split between those in the Photoshop camp and those who prefer real natural media effects and use Painter.

With version 12, Corel continued adding more features, but tried to rope it all in and tidy up the interface. The result is a program that has a steep learning curve because almost nothing is intuitive about it.

There have been a number of bug-fix releases since then, but with version 12.2 there are a number of interesting new features. To get that far though, if you’ve bought a boxed version, you’ll have to download each individual update and apply them one after another.

The headline new feature is flowmaps, which work with the realistic watercolour brushes specifically, but will also affect other brushes. These create more distinct patterns with higher peaks and lower troughs than just a paper design, so that the watercolour actually runs into them. Unlike Photoshop, when you paint with one of these brushes, there’s a processing delay as Painter spreads, runs and mixes the watery colour. It makes painting slower, but much more natural and organic looking.

Other new features include palettes that can now dock vertically and enhanced multi-touch support for the Wacom Intuos5 and Cintiq 24HD touch.  

If you use the watercolour brushes this update is significant, as well as free if you already own Painter.