Corel Painter Lite review

With Painter 12 being the leading light in natural media painting, beating Photoshop into a cocked hat on this score, there was always room for a stripped down, beginners version at a reduced price. Strangely, that slot has already been filled by Corel’s own Painter Essentials 4 which is actually cheaper than this, Painter Lite. What’s perhaps even more surprising, is that Corel really has stripped Painter right down to the bare wood for this Lite version.

There’s a good range of brushes covering acrylics, airbrushes, blenders and mixers, chalks and hard mediums, watercolour, erasers, special effects, gouache, impasto, markers, oils, pencils, pens, sponges and sumi-e style. Rather than having a brush control palette, or indeed the enormous mass of palettes that regular Painter uses, there’s just brush size, opacity, resaturation from colour pick up, bleed on the edges and jitter to add variation to the brush strokes. In some ways, this is everything anyone starting out with Painter would actually need, but it’s a huge reduction on the facilities offered by the parent program. You may certainly miss being able to control the brush tips directly. The plus side is that it makes painting much quicker and simpler. The mouse/pen controls zooming in and out of the image while holding down the Alt key turns it into a movement.

There’s papers to paint on as well, with a reasonable range of surfaces that can be selected initially or applied as a post-production effect. Lighting and focus effects can also be applied, which is handy for anyone painting over photos. On that front Painter Lite probably comes up short compared to Painter Essentials 4, which also has the Sargent brush. At least the motion-context brush work is still here in Lite. That means the brush strokes change direction depending on the direction you paint in.

For mixing colours the Mixer is retained and there’s a selection of mixer pads from various artists which is a nice touch. Mirrored painting is possible and there’s some general image adjustment controls but that’s pretty much it.

OUR VERDICT

The first thing to realise is that this really is Painter stripped back to basics. As such it works well because it’s a lot faster to do the complex impasto and oil effects. The problem is that Corel already has a Painter starter program and it’s cheaper than this one. On balance though, this is a worthwhile app, whether you want to paint from scratch or over photos, whereas Essentials is clearly designed for those doing the latter.

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