When I read how much Corel updated its newest version of Painter,
version 8, I was anxious to try it, especially since it had
simplified its interface and made the program more compatible to
Photoshop. I am reviewing it from the perspective of the Photoshop
user who spends the majority of his or her time in Photoshop. I use
Windows 2000. The minimum system requirements reproduced from the
are: Macintosh: Mac OS 9 (version 9.2.2 or
higher) or Mac OS X (version 10.2 or higher) Power Macintosh G3
or higher 128 MB RAM 1024 x 768 display, 24-bit color CD-ROM
drive Mouse or tablet (Wacom tablet recommended) Windows:
Windows 2000 or Windows XP Pentium processor, 200 MHz or higher
128 MB RAM 1024 x 768 display 24-bit color CD-ROM drive
Mouse or tablet (Wacom tablet recommended) The suggested retail
price for Corel Painter 8 is $299 US for the full version and $149
US for the upgrade version. Also, Adobe Photoshop 5.5 - 7.0 and
Painter Classic users are qualified to purchase the upgrade
version of Corel Painter 8 for a limited time, but only in North
America. For people not familiar with Painter, Painter is primarily
a powerful painting application containing, as a secondary aspect,
image editing tools as well. However, its main strength is in its
ability to reproduce natural media effects through the use of a
tremendous number of natural-media preset brushes, all of which can
be modified in an infinite number of ways and in version 8 even
combined with other types of brushes for new types of "yet to be
invented" media. Version 8 finally closes the gap between the
compatibility issue with Photoshop. This will be demonstrated later
in the review. The program comes with two disks, an application
disk and a goodies disk. For those familiar with the older versions
of Painter, the following are some of the newer features of Painter
8, many of which I have illustrated with screen capture shots. The
first is visible when Painter 8 opens. The screen is less
cluttered. Palettes can be grouped, docked, and undocked.
Notice that the former control's palette (see below) is now
attached the the upper tool bar; however, it can be undocked and
moved to another location. It has become a more complete context
sensitive property bar.
The brushes have undergone a revitalization. Most of this I believe
is positive although one aspect I do not like. There are 400 new
brushes in Painter 8 in 30 different mediums. There is also a very
useful tracking palette which can be seen in the screen shot of the
interface. This will hold the currently created and used brushes
and can be retained even when the document is closed. The brush
builder has been augmented so that one can try out a brush on the
right side to see how it will look. Once created it goes
automatically into the brush tracker.
The only new addition in the brush area that I didn't like
was how the selection of brushes was set up. If you notice the
interface (above), on the far right, are two pictures and arrows
next to them that signify that there are more tools available. That
is the default location for the brush selector which is shown in a
magnified version to the right. I find this awkward to use because
it will not stay open even though you can dock it elsewhere or
leave it free standing. Even though the tracker is extremely handy,
visually, I would prefer to be able to access the brushes without
having to open a palette which then automatically closes. What is
easier, however, in version 8 is that I can make minor changes to a
brush without having to activate the brush creator by using the
brush variant (pictured to the right of the screen shot of the
brush categories) and the context sensitive property bar.
In the Brush Creator (see below) are three tabs Randomizer,
Transposer, and Stroke Designer. If all the brushes contained in
Painter 8 were not enough, now one can create random brushes.
Through the transposer, as mentioned earlier in the review, one can
combine the properties of more than one brush. The Stroke Designer
makes use of special properties such as Impasto and Digital Water
Color which is new to Painter 8. Digital Water Color is a simple
medium that can be used to create transparent washes. As are true
with all the brush components, it can be used to create a variety
The mixing palette is a really nice addition to Painter 8.
Fortunately, it stays open and is very easy to use. Below is a
screen shot of the palettes I keep open. I work with two monitors
and I keep all my palettes on one monitor so I have more room to
work. In the mixing palette, one accesses the above colors with a n
eye dropper and then mixes them with a brush or palette knife.
These custom colors can be saved.
The middle area holds the layers and channels palettes. These are
very close cousins to those in Photoshop and an image opened in
Photoshop will contain the same information in these palettes as it
does when opened in Painter 8.
The next group of screen shots shows the layers' structure for both
Photoshop 7 and Painter 8 while the group after that shows the
Finally, alpha channels containing modifying masks will appear the
same in both programs and will follow the file from Photoshop to
Painter and the reverse.
Another new feature in Painter 8 is the new Sketch feature. With it
you can create a black and white sketch from a colored photograph.
I tried a number of pictures and was not satisfied with the
outcome. I would have had to do a lot of work to the "sketched"
image in order to make it presentable. The controls for this effect
are shown below.
And the original image and "sketched" image are also pictured
As I hope can be seen from this review, Corel has added some very
nice features to Painter 8. For the Photoshop user, Painter 8 is
finally very easy to use and can extend almost indefinitely what
one can do with natural media materials. Since Corel is offering an
upgrade price to Photoshop users, this should make this package
especially enticing. Be sure to check out their downloadable demo
. If this special site has been changed, go to http://www.corel.com
and look for the 30 day free trial demo.
Paula can be reached by e-mail if you have any
More reviews can be found on her two web sites:
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