When it comes to making your art digital, if you’re used to the traditional sketchbook or canvas it can seem a little daunting.
In the digital age, with an overwhelming amount of computer and cell phone apps, it can be impossible to know where to start if you’re looking for a digital art application.
There’s also the question of what type of art a particular program allows you to achieve, and then you might be wondering whether you can create paintings as realistic as your real-life ones, with various textures, paint types, and brush effects.
We’ve decided to review one of the most popular paint programs out there: Corel’s Painter Essentials 6. This program is pretty impressive: it lets you sketch, draw, or paint amazing art from scratch or using photos, and even features natural media brushes and canvas textures to allow you to achieve high-quality paintings.
There are several great features of Painter Essentials 6: you can closely mimic real oil paint, chalk, watercolor, and more using Corel’s RealBristle technology, and you can even add multi-layered brushstrokes for added depth and dimension.
Don’t feel like you have to be a digital expert to use this either, as Corel’s intuitive tutorials with “workflow” tips help you acquire new skills and grow as a digital artist.
So, keen to find out more about this versatile package? Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about Painter Essentials 6…
Who is Corel?
Corel is a Canadian software company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. They aim to bridge the gap between the old and the new.
They make tools, processes, and spaces that connect the dots “between today and tomorrow,” allowing you to pivot and adapt in a rapidly changing world. They have more than 35 years of experience under their belt and are seen as a pioneer of the digital art frontier.
Digital art doesn’t have to be cartoons and animation. If you’re more into traditional art methods, you can easily bring these to the digital world with Painter Essentials 6.
The program allows you to choose between various drawing tools, from grainy, to thick, to thin. You can then bring your sketch to life with a variety of coloring options, including chalks, pastels, crayons, and charcoal, as well as blunt, soft, square, tapered, and jitter variants that will suit any task at hand.
You can also paint with tools that closely mimic real oil paint and watercolors thanks to Corel's RealBristle Technology, which allows you to create 'etheReal' art with particles that ‘spring, flow, and glow.’
When you save your work to edit it in Photoshop, save it as a PSD rather than Essential’s RIF format, as this preserves the editing functionality.
If you're wondering what gives Essentials the edge over Photoshop in terms of its paint capabilities, while Photoshop boasts many downloadable brushes, Essentials offers the Natural Media collection, which as we explained above, mimics real-life media in a way that Photoshop must surely be enviable of.
Features such as ‘wet-on-wet’ allow you to blend colors in a separate panel as if you were mixing watercolors on a palette, then watch as your wet paint strokes blend and merge right on the canvas.
The F-X brushes are great for bringing your illustrations to life with precalibrated brush presets that add texture to hair or movement such as sparkles to the eyes.
You can also create eye-catching pieces with Pattern Pens, which allow you to draw Mandalas and other symmetrical designs with mirror painting and kaleidoscope tools.
Smart Photo-painting Tools
If painting isn’t really where your true talents lie, or perhaps you’re new to digital art, you can use the one-touch Auto-Paint tool. This tool allows you to open any photo of your choice, select a painting style, and click play.
Then watch Essentials magically paint the photo for you using Smart Stroke technology that follows the lines and contours of your image, to add a new lease of life to the scene or portrait.
Updated User Interface
Painter Essentials 6 features a new user interface and Welcome Screen to kick start your painting experience.
Here you can create new documents and templates, choose from workflow UI layouts, keep up-to-date with the latest Essentials news, access helpful tutorials, view an inspirational art gallery, and check out specific brush packs to enhance your work.
You can also connect with other artists, view each other’s work, and provide feedback to help each other grow and acquire new techniques.
Drawing Tablet Support
Essentials can further provide you with an authentic painting experience through its tablet support features, which incorporates pressure-sensitive memory that adapts to your particular touch.
Simply provide a sample of your stroke in the Brush Tracker and Essentials will globally set sensitivity or save your pressure for each of your favorite brushes so you get a more individualized and unique experience.
Things to Consider
Painter Essentials 6 has a lot of features, so it takes a little time to get used to, particularly if you’re not an artist, or you've never created digital art before.
However, with the help of the tutorials, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of, and it can be fun to experiment with the different brushes and paint features.
Painter Essentials 6 is ideal for beginners, but it also has upgradable features for more experienced users, so it’s an ideal starting point for entering the digital art realm.
Overall, a few people encountered issues with the installation but ultimately found that the Corel customer support team helped deal with any problems.
Value for Money
Essentials 6 isn’t the cheapest paint program available but it does provide an extensive range of paint options, which makes it a good program for art amateurs and professionals alike.
It’s very flexible, offers a wide range of tools and features, and is upgradable for those who need more complex add-ons.
Before purchasing, check your computer is compatible with Essential’s system requirements:
- Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7
- Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 processor, 2 GHz or faster
- 4 logical cores or higher (recommended)
- 2 GB RAM (8 GB RAM or higher recommended)
- 1 GB hard disk space
- Solid-state drive (recommended).
- 1280 x 800 screen resolution (1920 x 1080 recommended)
- Mouse or tablet
- DVD drive (required for box installation)
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 or higher
- macOS 10.13, 10.12, OS X 10.11 and OS X 10.10, with the latest revision.
- Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support.
- 4 logical cores or higher (recommended).
- 2 GB RAM (8 GB RAM or higher recommended).
- 750 MB hard disk space for application files.
- Solid-state drive (recommended).
- 1280 x 800 screen resolution (1920 x 1080 recommended).
- Mouse or tablet.
- DVD drive (required for box installation).
To activate your product, you must connect to the Internet and register it first.
What We Like About Essentials 6
- An array of brush types and paint styles to use - from watercolor to traditional oil paintings to charcoal and chalk
- Different textures to paint on which provide the feel of a real-life canvas
- Mix paint in a separate panel to mimic paint in a palette.
- Add multiple layers for added texture and movement
- Adapts to your painting pressure when used with a drawing tablet
- Smart photo-painting tools allow you to automatically fill your photograph with paint.
- The updated interface allows you to connect with other Essentials users, view tutorials, keep up to date with the latest Essentials news, and share your work with others for helpful feedback.
- A great program for beginners but equally useful for more experienced artists thanks to the extensive features.
What We Dislike About Essentials 6
- Some users had issues downloading the software - so make sure you carefully check the system requirements before downloading.
Overall Essentials 6 is a good quality, versatile software that caters to a range of paint techniques and abilities.
It really bridges the gap between digital art and traditional forms which allows you to mimic different paint types and textures to an impressive level. It feels extremely realistic when used with a drawing tablet, and best of all, it looks realistic, too.
The smart photo painting tool is also fun to use and allows you to automatically paint photos with the click of a button. The updated interface works well and allows you to connect with other users and share work or offer tips to each other.
Overall, Essentials 6 is easy to use and the tutorials are great for beginners looking to get to grips with digital art. The price is reasonable considering the myriad of features the program offers, and the wet-on-wet watercolor feature is particularly realistic.