We previously looked at Painter 9.1, a tool that is undeniably the best digital painting tool available for any platform. However, power and precision come at a price and for some £300 is too much money to indulge in the full Painter software. This is where Painter Essentials comes in – being to Painter what Photoshop Elements is to Photoshop.
Essentials 3 is the latest release, and it offers a lot of art tools for your money. While the application obviously doesn’t have the vast range of tools and brushes on offer in Painter, nor the scope to create your own or load in sets, it does have such brushes as Digital Watercolour, the brilliant Artists’ Oils and a decent range of pastels, palette knives, pens, crayons and other options. In fact, there are more than 75 brush variants, which adds up to less than £1 each.
If you want to create a painting from your digital shots, then Painter Essentials is aimed at you, and it makes this job easy to do. You can clone an image manually or set up your brushes, hit Play in the Auto Painting palette, sit back and watch your photo turn into a painting. This feature is not really of interest for serious artists, though.
What is of interest is the route into Painter. Support for Wacom tablets (and you may even find this bundled with your tablet) makes it possible to get to grips with digital painting. There’s a strong chance that once you’ve had a taste you’ll want to save up for the full version of Painter…