Corel Painter X3 hands-on preview

Corona campaign artwork created in Painter by Greg Banning
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What does the new version of Painter have in store for illustrators and comic, conceptual and fine artists?

Painter X3 offers an enhanced user experience, workflow optimization, and new technologies for brush characteristics and controls, painting and visual aids, and inspirational details and customization options. With this release, digital paint grows ever closer to actual paint in look and behavior. At the same time, Painter's major features are now easier to find and use. The following hands-on overview illustrates some of what Painter X3 brings to the drawing table.

Brush improvements

Painter X3's new Jitter brush enhancements introduce increased elements of randomness to strokes either by adding universal Jitter properties to any available brush or through one of the 25 new Jitter brushes. Jitter introduces randomness to a brushstroke--you let the program change a certain brush characteristic on its own.

A new Brush Search Engine (above) lets you quickly find the exact brush you're looking for simply by typing search terms, such as names or properties, in the search bar. An enhanced Live Stroke Preview visually ensures that you've found the brush you're after. It offers a more detailed preview of the brushstroke that will appear on the canvas. The preview now visually represents brush parameters such as mixing, erasing, blending, and jitter. The brush preview displays in the Brush Library panel, the Brush Search panel, and the Live Stroke Preview panel. Painter X3 offers close to 1000 brushes in 30 categories.

Smart Brush Controls help you change brush properties more easily by providing a context sensitive intuitive way of modifying a selected brush's advanced controls: The panel displays only the settings you can tweak for that brush.

Painting assistance

Painter X3 offers enhanced cloning assistance. With crosshair cloning, you not only get to clone from an original source image and view your strokes from the crosshair reference point, you can actually change the source image and continue to clone in real time from the edited version, or switch back and forth between the original and the edited source image for cloning.

New Perspective Guides (above) allow you to accurately draw in one-, two-, or three-point perspective using preset guides. Perspective-Guided Strokes constrain strokes by snapping them toward the vanishing points set by the artist. This function replaces the old Perspective Grid feature.

The Reference Image panel (below) lets you open an image so that it appears inset in the image you're currently working in; that way, you can keep it in sight without having to toggle between two windows. You can zoom, pan, and sample colors from the reference image while maintaining focus on your current painting. You can now apply a transformation to a selection across multiple layers.

Inspirational Mixer Pads (above) lets you sample, choose, and mix colors from a collection of original mixer pads created by expert Painter artists.

Flow Maps are designed to mimic the way that real-life watercolor and oil brushes apply paint across a literal canvas or other nonflat surface – producing less saturation at the peaks of the surface's texture and more saturation in the valleys.

In a free update coming soon, Painter X3 will introduce motion gestures with Painter Freestyle Gesture Control so that you can use your touchpad or Wacom tablet and fingers to control your painting.

Watch for Digital Arts' upcoming full review of Painter X3.

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