Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Corel ships Painter Essentials 8

Corel has released Painter Essentials 8, the latest update to the entry-level edition of its natural media painting software, adding native support for Apple’s new M1 processors.

The release also adds 10 new AI-trained auto-painting filters, 23 new natural media brushes, and a new colour harmony system when picking colours.

A capable natural media painting package for under $50
Although Corel pitches Painter Essentials primarily as a tool for beginners, it’s actually a fairly fully featured application for creating illustrations or concept art.

As well as more hobbyist-friendly tools for stylising or tracing photographs, it comes with a good range of brush types from Corel Painter itself.

That includes both conventional natural media brushes, including oil, acrylic, watercolour, chalk, pastels and markers; and newer procedural tools including particle brushes and ‘pattern pens’.

You also get a standard basic range of image-manipulation tools, plus mirror and radial symmetry painting modes, and the software can import or export layered PSDs in order to exchange files with Photoshop.

New in Painter Essentials 8: native support for Apple’s new M1 processors
Under the hood, the key change in Painter Essentials 8 is support for Apple’s new M1 processors, rolled out late last year in the new MacBooks and Mac mini systems.

Performance of more processor-intensive brushes is “up to 4x faster” on Apple Silicon machines than the old Intel Macs, although thanks to other development work, Windows users get the same speed boost.

The release also introduces support for macOS 11.0 Big Sur, plus the option to use an iPad as a secondary display on Mac systems, with support for tilt and pressure when using an Apple Pencil stylus.

Corel told CG Channel that it was now working on M1 support in Painter itself, but didn’t commit to a specific release date for an M1-native version of the software.

More AI-based auto-painting effects
One Painter Essentials feature that should make use of M1 processors is the AI-trained auto-painting system, which can co-opt the chips’ Apple Neural Engine co-processor via Apple’s Core ML.

The update adds 10 new auto-paint styles, mimicking natural media including acrylic and coloured pencil.

According to Corel, whereas auto-paint effects could “change the colour of an image completely” when the system was introduced in Painter Essentials 7, the results are now more faithful to the source image.

New colour-picking workflow provides readymade colour harmonies and colour sets
Other changes in version 8 include new colour harmonies and colour sets when picking colours.

The former include complementary colours and monochromatic variations of a source colour; the latter include readymade sets of greyscale values, human flesh tones, and pastel colours.

The release also adds 23 new brushes across many existing brush categories, including particle and glazing brushes, and pen and pencil presets; and improves workflow for managing image layers.

Pricing and availability
Painter Essentials 8 is available now for Windows 10 and macOS 10.13+. It works with both Wacom-compatible graphics tablets and Windows devices that support the Real-Time Stylus API. It costs $49.99.

Read more about the new features in Painter Essentials 8 on Corel’s website

See a feature comparison table for Painter Essentials 8 and Painter 2021