Enhance your workflow with updated digital art tool

Ambient Design's latest version of ArtRage keeps digital artists satisfied with lovely tools and effects at an affordable price.

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ArtRage 4.5 under the microscope

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.

There are enough tools to keep all but the most demanding of digital artists satisfied

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.

ArtRage 4.5 under the microscope

Collect layers, presets, colour samples and stencils in the Toolbox.

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 4.5 under the microscope

The thickness of grid lines self-adjusts as the size changes.

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.

ArtRage 4.5 under the microscope

Tilt your stylus when using the pencil tool and you will notice how it directly affects the lines you draw.

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.

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Beren Neale
Deals Editor

Beren has worked on creative tech magazines and websites at Future Publishing for 13 years. He started this journey as Staff Writer on the digital art magazine ImagineFX, and in 2012 found himself bridging the magazine/website divide as Commissioning Editor on the newly launched Creative Bloq. Since then he took the editor role on ImagineFX, was Launch Editor of the fine art magazine Paint & Draw, moved to Canon Pro Europe website as Deputy Editor, and then edited the graphic design magazine Computer Arts. In 2020 he moved back to Creative Bloq, the biggest global art and design website, and as Deals Editor has applied his expertise in creative tech to help digital creatives get the best deals on the kit that they need and love. Outside of work, Beren likes nothing better than to climb himself a bit of rock.