PAINTER PROThough we’re not professional artists or even students, we decided to try Corel’s new “Painter 2015.” This is a program that has been around for decades and is used by professionals to turn photos into artworks as well as design original art for ads and games. Reviewers are nuts about the new brushes, which can create special effects, like smoke, pixels, color shifts, etc., as you paint.

The program is $429, which is expensive for someone who just wants to dabble, but if you upgrade from an older version — even going back to Painter 7 from 12 years ago — it’s $229.  We saw Painter 7 selling for $20 on eBay, so you can certainly save a few bucks this way.

Before you upgrade, you might want to try out an older version of Painter. Get the feel of what it can do, learn the tools and rules. Later versions add more tools, but they may not be tools you care about. This is true of almost all programs, by the way: just because something is out in a new version doesn’t mean it’s a better version for you; it may in fact even have new problems.

Best of all, older versions have tutorials on YouTube or, but we couldn’t find any video tutorials for the latest version of Painter. has great ones for the previous version, Painter X3. If you do go with the latest version, makes sure you check Painter 2015’s system requirements. We fell far short on this one and were surprised.

Bob’s Windows XP machine couldn’t run it. Neither would Joy’s two year-old Windows 8 PC, an all-in-one from HP which froze every time we tried to run the program. It turns out that Hewlett Packard went cheapo on us (and a few million other customers) when they built the system. They used an AMD processor that is normally used for so-called netbook and notebook computers – low-end and limited. So even in a relatively new HP Windows 8 computer, we couldn’t run Painter 2015. It worked fine on our Macbook Air.

We found the program complex, so we would definitely like to have some video tutorials. You can run a free trial of the program at You should also compare it with ArtRage, which is $50 for Windows or Mac, and $5 for the iPad; it is also out in a new version.

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