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Get started with ArtRage

ArtRage software

ArtRage is a program that enables you to use real-world painting techniques on your computer, tablet or mobile phone. Put simply, you push pixels on a screen to mimic the behaviour of art mediums. The program was aimed at artists from both traditional and digital backgrounds who wanted to create believable works of art using a simple interface. 

Get started with ArtRage

With the recent release of ArtRage 5, these ideals have been refined and tools honed so that all users, from digital novices to veritable stylus Seurats, can create beautiful art. The software can be installed on pretty much all platforms, and ranges from free simpler apps right through to the full desktop version geared more towards professional artists or keen enthusiasts.

For me, ArtRage is the best program for all your painterly needs – and it's relatively cheap, too. Keep reading to see how easy it is to get up and running. 

Get set up in ArtRage

ArtRage: Portrait of man

When first trying out the app, stick to smaller paper sizes so as you can fill the space with colour easily using the medium-sized default brushes

01. Open a new canvas

ArtRage: open a blank canvas

Start with a lovely blank canvas

When starting any new piece of art, you first need to create a new blank canvas. ArtRage gives you a vast array of options from colour, size and pixels right through to the texture of the surface that you'll be working on. Begin by clicking File in the top left corner and selecting New Painting.

02. Choose your canvas size

ArtRage: decide on the size of your canvas

Don't saddle yourself with more canvas than you can use

The New Painting box will open with a choice of options. Don't be daunted, it's just your chance to pick the size and colour of paper to work on. Select your print size and set the dimensions such as 16x12 inches for A3. Click in the Pixels/Inch box and type 300 to ensure a detailed picture.

03. Select a canvas texture

ArtRage: add texture to your canvas

Don't forget to give your canvas a bit of texture

Tap in the canvas box that shows a blue stroke across it. Here you can change the colour of the surface along with the grain size and the roughness. If you tap on the arrow pointing right underneath the grain tab and select Select from collection, you're then given even more options and textures.

04. Confirm canvas and begin painting

ArtRage: Confirm canvas to start painting

Now you're ready to go

Once you're happy with your choices for the surface and texture of the canvas, simply click the tick button and this will bring you back to the Sizing screen. Click the OK button if all looks good for you. Now your fresh canvas will appear, ready to be worked on.

Set up your brush

Don't be afraid to use the stylus as you would a real brush with fast, emotive strokes or gentle, feathering dabs

Don't be afraid to use the stylus as you would a real brush with fast, emotive strokes or gentle, feathering dabs

05. Select an oil brush

ArtRage: Choose your brush

There are plenty of brushes to choose from

The Medium Picker/Tool selector is probably the most important part on the screen, because it's the hub from which you can select what medium or tool you'll be working in. To pick your chosen medium or tool, just hover your cursor/stylus over the tools to be told what they are and click them to select.

06. Change your brush size

ArtRage: Change brush size

If the brush isn't big enough it's easy to change the size

Drag your finger, cursor or stylus across the brush head to the right to increase the size and left to decrease. The percentage number changes, indicating where you are on the size scale. To pick a specific size or go larger still, simply tap in the brush head area and type in the number you need.

07. Load paint on your brush

ArtRage: Load your brush with paint

You can load up your brush with plenty of paint

Click Settings. Keep the brush loading down to between two and nine per cent for a really dry dab of paint, which is great for underpaintings and sketching. Slide the loading up to 50-80 per cent and the paint thickens up, creating thick glossy streaks that can be mixed on the canvas alla prima style. 

08. Introduce texture

ArtRage: Create texture with a palette knife

Create texture by reaching for your trusty palette knife

Add extra texture by laying down paint direct from the tube and smearing it with the Palette knife. Select the paint tube and apply splodges on the canvas near your brush strokes. Then push the paint with the Palette knife, building it up on the edges of your strokes for added realism and depth.

Pick your colours

The paint mixes fantastically in ArtRage and in such a believable way

The paint mixes fantastically in ArtRage and in such a believable way

09. Choose a colour and tone

ArtRage: Use the colour wheel to choose your shade

With the colour wheel you can quickly get exactly the shade you need

No more endlessly mixing palettes and striving for an odd shade here! Using the Colour Wheel on the bottom right-hand side you can easily and quickly select hues across the whole colour spectrum. It's easy, simple and there's not an expensive tube of paint in sight! 

Tap the outer wheel to select the general colour you wish to use. Using the middle band you can click to select a tone within your initial colour selection, ranging from pale subtle colours right through to rich and deep hues. The smallest wheel shows the colour currently selected and the arrow in the corner enables you to collapse the Colour Picker, giving you more room to paint on your screen.

10. Correct errors with the Eraser...

Artrage: correct mistakes with the eraser

It's a lot easier to correct mistakes in ArtRage than on a real canvas

The Eraser can be found in the Tool Picker menu and is ideal for loose smudges, shaping areas or when sketching. Again, like the other tools, the Eraser has settings for altering the Pressure and Softness. Simply click the Eraser and use on your canvas as you would a normal rubber.

11. ...Or go back in time!

ArtRage: you can undo your mistakes easily

If you've completely messed up you can just undo your mistakes

The alternative method of correcting a mistake is the Undo button. This is located at the top of the screen and resembles a backwards arrow. If you find you've gone astray in your work, click the Undo button to take you back to a point at which you were happy with your art. 

This article originally appeared in issue 8 of Paint & Draw.

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