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Painter 2015: Faster, more stable, incredible new brush tools

Lesa Snider | Sept. 24, 2014
Painter 2015 gets much-needed improvements in speed and stability, plus picks up a jaw-dropping new Particle Brushes tool.

It'd be easy to begin by rhetorically asking how "the world's most authentic digital art studio" (as Corel has described Painter) could get any better. But that wouldn't be an honest question. If you've ever used Painter, which is geared toward traditional artists, illustrators, photo artists, and educators, you know exactly how it could be improved. For all of Painter's artistic prowess, it has needed to be far more stable and far faster--especially on a Mac, which has been stuck in 32-bit land for too long.

Happily, that's all changed in Painter 2015: The new, 64-bit native version is noticeably faster and, at least in my testing, crash-free (knock on wood). Combine that with a new set of physics-based brushes that produce realistic fur, fire, fabric, water, and smoke, an improved brush-tracking utility, a new control for producing realistic randomness in brushstrokes, new workspaces, and a slew of new media (papers, patterns, textures, and so on), this update is huge.

64-bit...finally!
For years Painter has been plagued by instability and, at least on a Mac, a sluggishness due to 32-bit code that made using it a mixture of frustration and joy. Painter 2015 is 64-bit native and does a better job of prioritizing and directing your Mac's processing power, which equates to a more stable and speedier experience (even when doing mundane stuff like opening files, showing/hiding layers, zooming, and so on). The vast majority of brushes even behave as if you were using them in realtime, though I did experience a slight lag time when using Particle Brushes (described next) while concurrently watching an instructional YouTube video.

Particle Brushes
The jaw-dropping feature in Painter 2015 is the new Particle Brushes, which you can use to create shockingly realistic fire, fur, hair, smoke, fabric, water, and so on. They work according to the laws of physics and, when you paint with them, a bubbling array of speckled particles emanates from the brush tip. These particles produce random and chaotic patterns, lines, and colors as you move or hold your stylus in place (a stylus is the pen used with digital drawing tablets, like those from wacom.com).

Particle Brushes come in three categories: Gravity, Spring, and Flow. Each one creates a different style of particles. Those in the Flow category create color bursts that look like the Northern Lights, realistic sparkle effects, water, as well as hair and fur (a galactic time-saver for artists).

The Gravity category, on the other hand, produces sweeping paths that shrink and grow with the movement of your stylus, depending on the speed and spin rate of your brushstroke (a huge boon for fantasy artists). The Spring category includes brushes whose particles bend and distort, in an almost Slinky-style fashion, which is just the ticket for creating flames and smoke in far less time that you ever could in Adobe Photoshop.

 

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