By Hugh John
If you’re an art or design and technology teacher visiting BETT this year, why not drop in on Corel?
Living as it does in the giant shadow of the Adobe 600 pound gorilla, the Canadian software company has every right to feel somewhat undervalued and overlooked. Especially when said gorilla has such inspiring teacher/demonstrators on its stand each January.
Corel will be exhibiting two graphics programs – PaintShop Pro Photo X2, and Painter – that could be particularly attractive to educators. PaintShop Pro Photo X2 began life as Jasc PaintShop, a shareware program much admired and used by art teachers, and not simply because it was free.
Since being acquired by Corel five years ago the stylish, if buggy, shareware application has been put on a full commercial training regime and is now up there with Photoshop Elements as a dependable, easy-to-use mid-priced graphics application boasting some extremely innovative features – many of which have since been adopted by other software houses.
The PaintShop Pro interface is particularly well designed and gives the user quick, direct access to editing tools as well as features such as palettes and layers. There is also an impressive selection of one-click processes which speed up the editing workflow immeasurably. As for the digital teeth whitening and anti-aging enhancements that are all the rage in graphics programs at the moment, well, unfortunately, you can lay the blame for those at PaintShop’s door.
'The only program where digital and traditional art tools coalesce so convincingly'
There’s nothing quite like Painter. Even Corel’s description of the program as “the ultimate digital art studio for anyone ready to expand their definition of creativity” doesn’t seem too effusive. Painter is surely the only program where digital and traditional art tools coalesce so convincingly. It certainly helps that the software supports the entire Wacom tablet family, as the range of available brush strokes is astonishing. Size, opacity and grain can all be finely tuned as well as traditional techniques such as impasto and bristle control.
Colours are created by selection from swatches or the mixer palette which effectively mimics the actions of a traditional artist’s palette. Once selected, the colours can be applied through digital representations of brush, crayon, acrylic, pen, chalk and pencil onto a variety of media that includes paper, weave and canvas. And if you’ve still got a hankering for Adobe there’s no problem whatsoever as Painter files can be transferred to Photoshop and vice-versa.
There’s an added bonus for fastidious art teachers. At the end of a particularly lively painting session with Painter there’s absolutely no cleaning up to do, no paint, brushes, chalk or paper to collect from table or floor. Just turn off the computers and go home.
January 13-16, Olympia, London
Corel Software - Stand K9