Made with Painter

Corel sent us their new “Painter” program for review. This is used by professional artists and photographers to create some nice works of digital art. Honda Motors, for example, uses Painter to make digital paintings of their concept cars. It’s for either Windows or Mac and we couldn’t tear Joy away from it for hours.

The downside is Painter is expensive: $429 for the latest version 12. But the “academic” price is only $99. That’s the price for anyone who can show that they’re a student or teacher or otherwise associated with an institution of learning. Or anyone who can fake it, meaning anyone who knows someone who meets the qualifications and you can use their name. It also works if you’re taking a night class somewhere.

There’s a steep learning curve to a big program like Painter but the results are worth the effort. Some new features are fun and easy to use, however. Chief among these is “kaleidoscope.” Here, you can start to doodle and instead of ordinary lines, a kaleidoscopic image forms. Anything you do looks so nice that Joy is thinking of uploading her creations to, where you can have fabric printed with your own designs.

Joy liked the “mirror” tool. Ever draw a face with one eye higher than the other? With the mirror tool, as you start to draw an eye on one side, the program puts a mirror image of the eye on the other. Bob didn’t think it was good where eyes were concerned, since a mirror image makes the face look cross-eyed. But Joy was wowed.

A big advance in Painter 12 is “real watercolor” and “wet oil.” These respond to the kind of digital surface you choose; wet paint will pool, spread and flow.

The first thing Joy’s sister asked when told about all this was what good is it if you only see your paintings on the computer screen? Well, there are other ways. has a canvas option under photo gifts; just send them the digital file and get back a picture on canvas. There’s also, which is useful if you want to sell your art. Other sites for transferring digital images to paper or canvas are and

You can download a free trial of Painter and check out some tutorials at We got great results starting with a photo of penguins. As with all art programs, you should look at their “gallery” site, which shows the work of artists who use the program. We especially liked the work of Andrew Jones from and Waheed Nasir, from

Android Jones Art

If you like cheaper alternatives and we always do — check out Art Rage, at It has many of the same tools as Painter. There’s a $40 version for computers– free for the first 30 days– and a $3 version for the iPad. offers a free magazine with tutorials and showcases the art created on the iPad.

If you like this kind of program, you should get a drawing tablet. We saw a nice Wacom “Bamboo” digital tablet and pen for $58 at; and they had used ones for $40.

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