• Price: 205 . 106

  • Company: Laurence King

  • Pros: RealBristle functionality adds a new level of control. Handy new composition tools.

  • Cons: Autopainting tools promise more than they deliver.

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

Long the favourite of amateur painters, Corel Painter has nonetheless established itself as a significant tool for illustrators, and this latest edition strengthens that position.

The application’s raison d’être is, of course, to simulate the results of working with real art tools such as pens and brushes but with the advantages of a digital environment, such as better workflow control and, well, less mess.

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Painter’s top new features as touted by Corel are RealBristle painting and Divine Proportion. RealBristle (above) is an attempt to further replicate the interaction between a brush and a canvas. Put simply, when using RealBristle brushes, the hairs bend and spread out. 
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RealBristle’s value to professionals cannot be overstated when used in conjunction with a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet. Perfect for mimicking the inherent inaccuracies involved in working with physical tools and wet paint in the real world, RealBristle goes some way towards adding a degree of complexity to digitally produced art. 
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As you’d expect, brushes can be quickly customized to perform as required. The addition of the RealBristle brushes does not, however, indicate the deprecation or removal of pre-existing brush sets such as Artists’ Oils, Sumi-e, or Impasto.
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<div class=floatedimage><img src=Ryan Church

The other hot new feature –- Divine Proportion (see the clickable image on the top-right) -- is a mathematical formula often expressed in geometry. Also known as the golden section or golden ratio, it has been found in art –- notably in the work of Leonardo Da Vinci –- as well as architecture, and page-layout canons by Jan Tschichold, the master of modernist design and typography. It even crops up in nature itself.

In short, it states that a ratio of 1:1.61603398874989 (or phi - roughly three to five) is most pleasing to the
eye when expressed visually. By drawing the ratio as a graph and superimposing it over a canvas, you can find how and where to place marks that will be more likely to appeal to a viewer - and this is exactly what Painter’s new tool does.

Divine proportion is an important compositional tool and can make for pleasing proportions. Its presence in Painter X makes an intriguing addition to the software, but how much actual use is it?

Corel’s publicity for the function skirts rather close to numerology, or at least metaphysics, but really it simply amounts to a handy method for arranging the composition of an image – a rule to be applied or broken as one sees fit – and the fact that it is not directly allied to the crop tool is surprising.

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The Layout Grids function is another new compositional tool. Unlike the Divine Proportion tool, Layout Grids are useful to all artists, not just those hoping to be inducted into the Roscrucians.
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Layout Grids bring composition ideas directly from the world of photography, such as the rule of thirds. Grids can be superimposed on a canvas for greater insight into composition and cropping. Unlike the Divine Proportion tool, which is by its very nature a fixed compositional formula, Layout Grids are malleable and can be customized at will.
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<div class=floatedimage><img src=Heather Michelle Bjoershol