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
Edom Editor

Beren has worked on creative titles at Future Publishing for over 13 years. Cutting his teeth as Staff Writer on the digital art magazine ImagineFX, he moved on to edit several creative titles, and is currently the Ecommerce Editor on the most effective creative website in the world. When he's not testing and reviewing the best ergonomic office chairs, phones, laptops, TVs, monitors and various types of storage, he can be found finding and comparing the best deals on the tech that creatives value the most.