ArtRage 2.5 review
Longtime Apple users might remember a torrent of budget paint programs available for the Mac, which sadly over the years have all but dried to a trickle. Photoshop, Illustrator, and Painter may excel in the worlds of pixels, vectors and natural media but each requires a substantial investment in your time and money. ArtRage 2.5 is something of a throwback, a small paint program big on ambition, with a learning curve that’s more a brisk walk than an uphill struggle.
Helped by a clean, simple user interface, ArtRage 2.5 offers enough pens, pencils, paints, crayons and canvas textures to get you up and running within moments. Tools, options and a colour wheel hug the corners of your white workspace. You can adjust colour, tool size, and pressure sensitivity, as well as add layers – all without resorting to additional clutter. You can hide all but your canvas by simply control-clicking or right-clicking.
Paint blends and mixes well enough but lacks the range and subtlety of Corel Painter, the pre-eminent natural-media painting software. The addition of a graphics tablet however, such as a Wacom, significantly improves things, adding a level of control and sensitivity lacking with a mouse. You can resize your image to a more forgiving 300dpi and import and export your work in numerous popular file formats including Photoshop files with layers intact.
ArtRage 2.5 gives you the option to trace from your photos but also space to digitally pin a reference image if you’re feeling more ambitious. It’s a neat touch typical of the small enthusiastic Ambient Design team who also help maintain a busy forum where you can showcase your work. With numerous users posting their handiwork daily, the online gallery gives a good idea of what ArtRage 2.5 can do.
You can now move, scale and rotate the content of your layers in groups or individually, cut and paste individual layers and import images to layers. New rulers offer a further level of precision while a range of child-friendly fun stencils can be painted, coloured in, or drawn around. A Toolbox Panel gives access to your stencils, as well as tracing images and reference images.
If your artistic aspirations veer toward enthusiast rather than pro, then ArtRage 2.5 is for you. Cheap, intuitive and fun, it’s the ideal bridge between traditional pen and paint and working digitally. Perfect for beginners and the young, if you do out grow its limitations you will at least have built a firm foundation from which to move on.