Tradition dictates Corel to release a new Painter upgrade around August and sure enough, they were right on time with Painter 2021. New in Painter 2021 are a new, optimized automatic performance inspection and improvement algorithm, Apple Touch Bar, Trackpad and Pencil tilt support, Sidecar support, clone tinting, new A.I. Style presets, and more.
As its predecessor, Corel Painter 2021 takes advantage of the latest developments in processor (CPU), graphics processor (GPU) and memory with improved GPU compatibility and efficiency and an enhanced Brush Accelerator. The performance optimization is more intuitive and evaluates your system’s CPU, GPU, and memory. It also offers suggestions on how to upgrade system components, as well as recommendations on which brush categories are most compatible with your computer.
I don’t have a dozen different models of Apple’s computers in my office room, so I couldn’t try out the new support for the Touch Bar on a MacBook Pro, but it should offer context-sensitive controls that change depending on the selected tool. Neither do I have an iPad Pro to try the Pencil capabilities or the Trackpad support, for that matter. Even Sidecar support was out of my reach, but having tried Painter with the Duet system extension in the past, I guess it will work, although I always wonder why you would want to hook up a small screen instead of buying a second big display.
The new stuff for photographers and artists starts with Clone tinting. This allows you to dynamically add color and mix it mix with your clone source. While painting with clone tinting enabled, you can add the currently selected color, or a sampled color, to any brush independent of the clone source. It also works in conjunction with multi-point cloning, giving you an abundance of creative options while cloning. It sorts of enables you to colorize monochrome images or change the colors of images in ways you can’t achieve using color replacement panels in Photoshop, for example.
As has been tradition the past few upgrades, Painter 2021 improves its U.I. in several places. For photo artists, a new Photo Art command bar lets you instantly clone, access photo art panels, apply surface texture, as well as adjust colors, brightness and contrast, and equalize. To give you more room to paint, you can move command bars anywhere on the screen. These improvements are very welcome, but they are long overdue.
A new A.I. Style panel includes presets and styles that use artificial intelligence to create a painting from a photo, done in a specific style, e.g. impressionist or modern. You can fine-tune the settings of AI styles, and save your own custom preset. Plus, you can add style to virtually anything in Painter: a photo, a sketch, a painting, or even a few simple brush marks. To be honest, I personally found that these styles are so obviously machine created that it hurts the eyes. But that’s my personal opinion; you might find them a good starting point for the human aftertouch.
By the way, Painter 2021 uses the latest machine learning technology from Apple to power the AI style experience.
There are plenty more improvements, but I believe the above to be the most important. Painter still remains the better of the painting apps in my opinion. I’ve had the pleasure of working a bit with Celsys’ Clip Studio Paint and while that app is incredibly powerful in its own right, it’s less user-friendly than Painter 2021 is by a long shot.