Whether you're a pro artist or just learning how to draw and paint, premier digital art app ArtRage is one to watch. Its reputation for realistic effects and easy-to-use creative tools looks set to continue with this latest version. Wet paints mix and watercolour strokes blend and bleed into each other with the all-natural zing we've come to expect, while the selected media still echo the bristle of the brush in use.
A range of stickers, cloners, stencils, sprays and pattern and gradient fills offers convincing new-media effects, but it's a handful of new features that add a welcome extra layer of complexity to the established set.
With a tweak of your stylus's sensitivity settings for example, the new Tilt function makes pencil work more responsive than ever, and the Paint Symmetry option adds mirrored strokes to ArtRage's creative toolkit.
The resource drag and drop feature brings global benefits, making preparing your tools a cinch: to be able to organise preset brushes and pencils into custom toolboxes is a blessing however you approach the canvas.
Budding typographers have something to shout about too, with the frustration of not being able to mix fonts in the same text block now a thing of the past. Improvements have also been made to the font picker, enabling you to preview fonts in context as you browse the list.
That the new customisable grid has taken this long to appear in the app soon starts to feel criminal. Not only does it make positioning items on the canvas and quick comparisons between objects (including references) so much easier, it also brings a 'snap to' feature to the existing toolkit.
In past versions, the sheer detail of brushes and textures has added more than a bit of sluggishness to the typical ArtRage workflow. However, the same can't be said of version 4.5, which takes full advantage of the 64-bit processing power of the latest operating systems.
Overall, the floating-panel interface is clearer, more responsive and more customisable than ever, and the workspace has been tweaked for more efficient desktop use. Whether you're a dab hand with painting software or keen to get creative on your computer with the least-steep learning curve and minimal technical know-how, ArtRage comes highly recommended.