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Mimicking the Masters

Corel Painter X and the Future of Graphics Suite X3

by Thomas Franklin

Part 2 of a 8-part Series

"We wanted to push the boundaries," is how Corel Corp. product manager Rick Champagne describes the company’s recently updated Painter digital art program.

The Ottawa-based company issued the new version of Painter in February, what Champagne describes as a "digital art studio built from the ground up." Version 10—signified by its roman numeral X—includes a host of new features alongside enhancements to existing capabilities.

Among the multitude of new features in Version X is the RealBristle Painting System, which Corel says "faithfully replicates traditional art media with individual bristles that blend and splay."

There are also new composition tools, such as Divine Proportion and a Layout Grid, to help users properly orient their work. "Proportion is the key to making something aesthetically pleasing," Champagne says. The grid is an easy way for designers and photo imagers to adhere to the "rule of thirds"—properly composing a design according to a standard rule. Of course, this being art, users are free to transgress these rules.

For photo imaging, the photo-painting system has been built out with more color schemes based on a select style—like Impressionist or watercolor—and an updated auto painting pallet that can automatically apply brush strokes that follow the form of the original image. "We’ve added more control and intelligence into our brush strokes," Champagne says. The color management engine has also been updated with a Kodak engine. "It’s the same as in CorelDRAW," he notes.

A new palette matching effect lets users copy a color scheme from one image and apply it to another with controls for variation, brightness, intensity, and more.

Version X also offers "performance enhancements vital to a professional workflow," Champagne continues. Among them is support for universal binary on Intel-based Macs, which Corel says offers the "most dramatic" speed improvements among the performance boosting attributes on X. The program also works on PCs running Windows Vista with enhanced support for Adobe Photoshop. Specifically, the program can open PSD files with layer masks, alpha channels, and layer sets maintained allowing users to better integrate images edited in Photoshop into their Painter creation.

Corel is keeping mum on the forthcoming CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4. As for the existing X3, it has recently received full Vista certification, which users can download as a free service pack upgrade. According to Corel, the update gives the program some user interface changes, improved security and text handling, and refinements to the import and export file compatibility.

"Basically you’ll find the same features as the previous version with the benefits of Vista," adds John Falsetto, product manager. When updating a new version for Vista compatibility, third party plug-ins will also need to be Vista-certified—or compatible—to work properly.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, How Suite it Is 

May2007, Digital Output

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