The name Corel is synonymous with digital painting and design, but not everybody may be overly familiar with the newest advancements in Corel Painter, the company’s go-to digital painting app designed to replicate natural media via its paint, crayon and brush toolset.

In its last update, Corel introduced some much-lauded Dynamic Speckle brushes. Now, in Corel Painter 2017, which becomes available today and which Cartoon Brew had a chance to road-test, some of the newest features are ones that those who work in animation may find particularly useful.

Texture Painting

If you’re working in 3D you’ll already be familiar with texture painting tools. But that’s something that Corel Painter had not previously packed into its kitbag. Now the software includes a new texture brush category with incorporated source-blending tech. What’s more, you can render a 3D model into a 2D bitmap image and paint over it with these new texture painting brushes.

The idea here is that artists now have the ability to choose pretty much any texture to paint with and control the textures a lot more. You can even make a custom texture from the ground-up or modify one of the pre-existing textures. Transparency is retained for the selected texture, letting users add in a range extra expressive qualities, like worn paint or extra detail in a futuristic landscape.

Dab Stencils

Artists looking for more ways to control brushstroke opacity can now rely on the new Dab Stencils feature. The brushstrokes are based on the active paper, flow map, or texture, and allow you to decide how much source texture to reveal as you paint. The benefit here is in a flexible approach to masking a brush dab with the available stenciling media that includes papers or flow maps.

The Dab Stencils at work.
The Dab Stencils at work.
New Gradient tools

You might want to add a gradient background to a painting – that’s a relatively easy thing to do in Corel Painter, but now the 2017 release includes two new gradient tools. The first is the Interactive Gradient Tool which lets you edit and move gradients around on-the-fly. Then there’s the new Express Paint feature that applies a painterly feel automatically to a gradient.

Glazing Brushes

New Glazing Brushes in Corel Painter 2017 are designed to let users paint with extremely high levels of transparency. They deliver what Corel calls ‘stroke-level opacity’ matching the fluctuating pressure an artist may apply with their stylus brushstrokes. That means the paint from each brushstroke is applied independently and this way you can built up layers smoothly – ‘velvety,’ Corel suggests; it also means smooth blends between colors where your painting overlaps.

Glazing Brushes are a new addition in Corel Painter 2017.
Glazing Brushes are a new addition in Corel Painter 2017.
Enhanced features

In addition to these new Corel Painter features, the 2017 release includes enhancements to several existing tools and workflows, such as the Dropper tool, Palette Drawers, Brush selector and Property bars. Corel Painter 2017 also has several new pre-defined user interface arrangements, suited to different workflows you might be following. This might be useful, say, if you’re starting some concept art, or working on fine art versus an illustrative piece, or perhaps need to create a manga-styled painting.

That latter enhancement to allow for flexible user interfaces perhaps best sums up the updated features in this 2017 release – every artist is different and many have established workflows, favorite tools, and go-to brushes. More than ever, Corel Painter seems to be angling to let users do exactly what they want with the tool.

Corel Painter 2017 is now available as a download for both Mac and Windows. The full version is US$429/CAD$499/EUR 424.95/£314.95 (or US$229/CAD$269/EUR 218.95/£159 as an upgrade for existing users). You can also download a 30-day full trial.

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Ian Failes

Ian Failes is a writer covering visual effects and tech for Cartoon Brew.