ArtRage has long given digital artists lovely tools and effects at an affordable price. The latest update (v4.5) isn't a huge advance, but it's a reminder that Ambient Design is still headed in the right direction.
Also, at a mere £30 – or a free update for owners of version 4 – it's proof that the developer is more interested in people than profits.
Like Corel's Painter, the modus operandi here is creating a realistic painting experience. The tools on offer don't quite have the depth of Painter's, but there are more than enough and they feel tactile and lifelike.
An oil brush starts out fully loaded with ink, but quickly thins out and becomes more transparent. The watercolour brush, meanwhile, delivers a pale line with darker edges – just like the real thing.
The way that different paints interact is impressive, too. A palette knife can be smeared over the virtually damp canvas to blur and distort your creations, for example. One impressive addition in the latest version of Painter is the addition of more psychedelic Flame Painter-style brushes.
ArtRage doesn't include quite as many options, and the results aren't quite as convincing. There's still a lot to love here, though.
With its chunky menus and large tool and colour selection areas, ArtRage looks like a tablet app, and as a result it's far more accessible and child-friendly than Corel's increasingly bustling Painter. It also includes stylus tilt detection – a feature that's only just been added to Painter.
ArtRage feels like it's where Painter was a few years ago, before it became crowded with features. This is no bad thing.
The price is low, and we love the fact that Ambient Design has chosen to drop the Pro version so it can concentrate on making the best possible version of ArtRage.
It retains an elegant simplicity that Painter can't match, and for the price it's a very competent digital painting program.
Images: Nick Harris
This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 114.