After the release of Corel Painter 2020 this year, it’s time for the new Painter Essentials 7, which was just released. This is Corel’s software aimed at digital painting beginners in terms of both budget and features. Let’s take a look!
The welcome screen will present with the essential choices for documents, layouts, tutorials and extra content.
The very first thing to notice is, following Painter 2020’s revamped UI, this one too went to the dark side ;-)… in a good way. A lovely dark UI with new, more legible icons that is very inviting and un-distractive. Also, new previews for the brush selector are better and will help you pick your brushes easier.
Speaking of brushes, there are new brush technologies available, like Dab Stencils, Dynamic Speckles and Glazing. There are also new options for digital watercolor: Set Diffusion, Adjust Wet Fringe and Dry Paint. These are great new additions to control the look and behavior of digital watercolor.
The thing about brushes is, though, is there is no brush creator. You can’t create your own brushes, or even save brush variants with tweaked settings (like size, opacity and grain). I still don’t know how I feel about this. The reasoning behind it is to keep it as simple as possible for beginners. And I get that. Meddling with endless brush parameters can be overwhelming for seasoned digital painters, let alone for newcomers. But maybe being able to save those few parameters one can tweak in case one found a way to minimally customize that variant for one’s use would be a useful feature.
In any case, there are tons of brush packs one can add by clicking on the top of the brush selector.
I’ve played with all the brushes and I loved most of them. The Dab Stencils and Dynamic Speckles are not new to me, since I come from Painter 2020, but if you didn’t try them, they are delightful and bring so much creative potential to the program! Besides this, after playing with all available brushes, I’m confident there is a brush for each need, especially if you’re new to digital painting.
Performance has been enhanced and, even though I haven’t tried previous Essentials versions, I can tell. Whatever I played with, even in relatively big canvases, wasn’t laggy, which I find precious. Big brushes, dynamic speckles, you name it, I haven’t suffered. This is great for beginners not to feel discouraged if they’re trying digital painting for the first time!
Artificial Intelligence-based Photo Painting
You can convert your favorite photos into paintings using neural networking and the strength of Painter’s brush engine. Choose from an impressive range of AI styles for photo painting, including Bold Watercolor, Colored Pencil, Colorful Dabs, Impressionist, Smooth Acrylic, Van Gogh, Watercolor Portrait, and Charcoal Drawing. I even tried it on my own traditional paintings (photos or scans of them), and it was crazy fun to re-stylize them into more painterly styles. There are tons of ways to play with the Auto Painting as a start, and then tweak and re-paint areas that you want to detail or add things to. You’ll find many tutorials at Corel for this. But my two thumbs-up comment on this process is that in Painter Essentials 7 it is SO easy! I can see newcomers having endless hours of painterly fun with this feature!
There are some great little painting programs for the low-budget market of digital painting. All have their strengths and shortcomings, so what’s considered the best program might vary from person to person. Having said that, if you want to know how Corel Painter’s technology feels like and don’t have the budget to go there yet, Painter Essentials is a great entry point with just the right tools you need to fall in love with digital painting while having fun, even if you still don’t know how to paint. I don’t think you can go wrong with it.