Is Corel's pocket-size software essential for artists?

We find out if the cut-down version of Corel Painter, Painter Essentials 5, is any good for aspiring artists.

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Our Verdict

This pocket-sized package is great for artists wanting a trad feel without shelling out loads for Corel Painter. With a free month trial, you can be sure it's for you before buying too!

For

  • Palatable price tag
  • Photo Art tool gives beginners a good platform to work from
  • Provides templates and brush suggestions

Against

  • Lacks more powerful tools on offer in standard Painter software

Painter Essentials 5 is the latest version of Corel's answer to Photoshop Elements - and it's around half the price.

Unlike the standard Painter software, which has a rather steep price of £282 and is used by pro artists, Painter Essentials 5 is aimed at people who create digital art as a hobby, rather than as their day job.

This means it has a far more palatable price tag, along with some more user-friendly tools and helpful how-to guides.

Unsurprisingly, however, some of the more powerful art tools present in Painter aren’t on offer in Essentials 5.

One of the biggest hints that Essentials 5 is aimed at aspiring rather than pro artists lies in the Photo Art tool, which enables you to choose a digital photo and turn into what Corel claims to be a "beautiful work of art" in just three steps.

Is Corel's pocket size software essential for artists?

The welcome screen sets out its stall as a more beginner-orientated tool, with plenty of advice and guides to get you started

You can choose from a number of preset styles such as Oil Painting and Impressionist, and Painter Essentials will paint over the photo in the chosen style. The results vary, and if you think you'll get a piece of art with just one click of the mouse then you’ll be disappointed.

However, it's a good way to see how the tools in Painter Essentials 5 work. You can also tweak and refine the image manually, giving beginners a good platform to work from.

Another good feature for aspiring artists is that when you start a new painting, you'll be shown examples of artwork with templates and brush suggestions.

Is Corel's pocket size software essential for artists?

The Photo Art tool produces varied results, but black and white landscape shots work well

Creating digital art from scratch is easy, and like the more expensive version Essentials 5 enables you to choose the material of the canvas before you begin.

This subtly affects the brushes and drawing tools you use to create your art. Even though this feature is tailored towards those starting out in digital art, the attention to detail is impressive, with different brushes and paints reacting to the canvas material in different ways.

If you're keen to start creating digital art with a traditional feel, but want to keep your costs down for now then Painter Essentials 5 is well worth your time.

Painter Essentials box art by: Lawrence Mann

You can try it for yourself by downloading a 30-day trial version from the Corel website.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 117.

The Verdict

7

out of 10

Painter Essentials 5

This pocket-sized package is great for artists wanting a trad feel without shelling out loads for Corel Painter. With a free month trial, you can be sure it's for you before buying too!