As a digital artist, I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting painting and sketching software that's going to help me take my art to the next level, so let's take a look at some of the best releases for Mac and PC professionals.
Let's begin with a brand we all know, and most of us love and use regularly:
Adobe Photoshop CC
With Photoshop, you'll get access to thousands of brushes, and they're an artist's dream. They help you quickly create vibrant artwork without having to labour over individual design elements each time. From glass shatters to leaf designs, watercolour or grunge brushes; you'll have everything you need to create stunning design flourishes - and it's continually being updated thanks to Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription model.
Photoshop ships with a set of brushes pre-installed, but it only scratches the surface of what you can achieve when utilising the brush engine.
Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 is available from Adobe's website for £16.24 per month.
Corel Painter 2019
Corel has recently released the all-new Corel Painter 2019, and compared to Photoshop these are two very different programs with different tools and painting processes. Despite their differences, gorgeous paintings can be created with both of these programs. Let's talk Coral.
As a professional digital artist, using Corel Painter feels like more of an organic painting process than Adobe and with over thirty new brushes to enhance the hundreds of existing brushes, paper textures, flow maps and guides and grids based on classical composition, it's got all the artist options you need.
Corel Painter 19 is available for Mac or Windows for £304.99 from Corel's website, or as an upgrade to registered owners. Previously purchased brush packs are fully functional in Corel Painter 2019. You can also download a free trial.
Clip Studio Paint Pro
Starting life as "Comic Studio", Clip Studio Paint Pro is now a professional grade graphic software program for illustration, animation, comic art and manga, and boasts over four million users worldwide. It's a great all-rounder, and as a result of the impressive features, capabilities and affordability, it's one of the most popular programs used by the manga and comic art industry.
This is an all-in-one app for illustrations, drawings, animations, sketches and comics, and enjoys some lush preset brush options. You can also create your own brush options, allowing you to create an infinite number of effects. With an enormous database, you can access over ten thousand elements, materials and brushes, free of charge on the Clip Studio Assets Site.
Clip Studio Paint Pro is available for Mac or Windows for £38.00.
I used Rebelle 2 last year for the first time and was impressed by this great piece of software that focusses on wet media with an excellent, intuitive user interface. This year, Rebelle 3 is released with lots of enhancements, which includes an outstanding watercolour simulation and a new DropEngine for better watercolour drips. This makes the natural, realistic watercolour look, a tricky one to beat. Your ability to mimic the way real colour mixes, blends and drys allow you to create digital paintings using custom brushes, smearing and creating water drops by tilting the ‘canvas’.
What's New in this release?
. Layered PSD support
. Straight line, ruler and perspective tools
. Selection tools and magic wand
. Ultra-realistic paper presets
. Powerful brush creator
. Canvas and image resize
. Support for pen pressure and rotation
. State of the art watercolour simulation
. Masking fluid layers and influenced layers
. Colour filters.
This enormous update does not disappoint and is available for the Mac or Windows for £65.36 and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee - which you won't need!
If you're a fan of Corel Painter's natural brushes but just can't walk away from Photoshop, you might consider Corel's ParticleShop plugin. The 2018 version includes Dynamic Speckles, allowing you to make thick pronounced strokes and smears and you can easily paint incredible and realistic looking effects like fire, smoke, hair, fur, fabric, and more.
For the uninitiated, ParticleShop is a plugin compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, TechnicalSuite, Corel PaintShop Pro and Corel AfterShot Pro.
The ParticleShop Core Pack is available for £44.99 from Corel's website, with additional brush packs costing £28.99.
Autodesk's SketchBook is much more than a sketching tool, although It's perhaps not quite as natural or realistic as some of the other software we've looked at so far. You get lots of choice and customisation options when it comes to brushes, and the interface is nice and easy to use.
As of April 30, the full feature software is available free for desktop, mobile and tablet for artists and designers, so there should be no hesitation in adding this to your toolkit.
Download Autodesk SketchBook free from the Windows or Mac App stores.
For artists working on Mac OSX or Windows 7 and higher, this painting app upgrade is powered by an enhanced blend of brushes, artistic tools and interface, offering brilliantly realistic tools and canvases. This is one of the most natural looking painting applications around.
Launched originally as a free app, ArtRage has progressed as a hobbyist tool targeted to creative users of any skill level. The newest version maintains ease of use and a colourful look and feel while introducing increasingly professional tools and interface enhancements.
Use watercolours, graphic design tools, traditional canvas textures to create your own tools with this version.
As well as acrylics, ArtRage also offers watercolours, inking pens and oil paints. If you're new to Art Range, then this version 5 upgrade is a good place to start if you need an intuitive painting app.
ArtRage 5 for Mac and PC will set you back around £60.48.
Microsoft Paint 3D
Microsoft’s new 3D creation tool, Paint 3D was part of the Windows 10 Creators Update last year, and although it shows promise, for me it's more of a toy than a tool. If you're like me, you'll remember Windows Paint as the plucky image editor responsible for most stick figures drawn on a PC which we all hated.
Paint 3D is slightly different, and the design encourages cartoon-like 3D objects and scenes with the canvas being the only 2D object. There’s also the Remix 3D community, where you and other members can import, edit and share digital objects and ideas.
In my honest opinion, the limitations here will frustrate you, but you can download Paint 3D for free for your PC from the Microsoft Store, so it won't hurt to give it a whirl and see what you think of it for yourself.
Black Ink allows artists to create any brush they like to aid concept art and graphic design projects, claiming to be the first digital drawing app to introduce new custom brushes. Tweakable at every level, Black Ink's controller system works at the speed of the GPU, removing some of the limitations of traditional tools. Artists working on concept art and graphic design projects can achieve something truly unique.
In the latest version, seven new features were released, including a shading editor, allowing artists to control their brushes down to the pixel.
Black Ink is available for Windows PC (XP, 7, 8 and 10) and is a free update for current licence holders. It can be purchased from £59.99.
By Michael Lonty & the SmartArt Team :)