Best Buy
  • Price: $80 (£53)

  • Company: Ambient Design

  • Pros: Clean interface; great natural paint effects; affordable; exports to Photoshop and supports PS filters.

  • Cons: Occasionally sluggish; lacks intuitive keyboard shortcuts.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

Having amassed hordes of followers eager for new features, Ambient Design has now released ArtRage 3 – which is available in the consumer-friendly Studio version, and Pro, for professional illustrators. So, what does ArtRage 3 Studio Pro offer?

For existing users the interface will be familiar, remaining much as it was in the previous version, with some minor tweaks to accommodate new tools and options. The approach is minimalist: panels are glued to the corners and edges of the application.

You can click these to open or close them, but they’ll also automatically disappear if you move your tools too close to them, dodging out the way in time for you to make the most of the canvas: Ambient Design has done a great job in making the interface all about the artwork.

The overall design is a little toy-like in appearance – everything has curvy corners and lime green handles – but if you can get over this there is a serious toolset hiding beneath the unassuming interface.

This latest release includes the standard toolset from previous versions: an oil brush, pencil, marker pen, crayon and eraser, as well as a palette knife, chalk, paint roller, paint tube and the glitter pen. New tools introduced with this version include a watercolour brush, inking pen and the dubiously named Gloop Pen.

Also included are sticker sheets and a Sticker Sprayer – which acts very much like Adobe Illustrator Symbols – and the Symbol Sprayer. Ambient Design has also included a Text tool for the first time.

The tools each have a distinct feel and authentic real-media texture. Oil paints can be scraped through each other, and colours mix in a believable manner. The ink pen smudges just as in real life, and the marker pens look just like the real deal.