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Corel Painter 9

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


A next version of Corel Painter 9 is Corel 10 or simply Corel X.

Corel Painter 9

Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Bottom Line

Note: A newer version of Painter is now available. Read a Review from About.com Graphics Software.

I would never have believed a program that can do all Corel Painter 9 can could be so user-friendly. To use it at the most basic level (yet with pleasing results), you simply set a size of canvas, pick a brush, select a color, and paint. But as soon as you start investigating the possibilities of each brush and drawing tool, the mixing of paint on the palette, the wetting and drying of watercolor paper, the special effects, you realize what an awesome program it is for an artist.

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  • Easy and fairly intuitive to use at a basic level if you're familiar with a drawing program.
  • Painting and drawing tools emulate the real thing.
  • Color Mixing works like a palette for mixing your own colors.
  • Handbook provides sample tutorials; free online video tutorials.
  • You can download a free 30-day trial version from the Corel website (and updates).


  • Needs a fast computer, either Mac or PC, to work smoothly.
  • A tremendous amount to learn to get the full potential from the program.
  • No extensive manual provided, you have to access it through 'Help'.


  • Minimum PC requirements: Windows 2000/XP; Pentium II, 500 MHz+; 128MB RAM; 380MB hard disk space.
  • Minimum Mac requirements: OSX; G3, 500 MHz+; 128MB RAM; 395MB hard disk space.
  • More than 30 categories of brush categories, from acrylics to crayons, oils to sponges.
  • Use Brush Creator to modify a brush, combine characteristics of brushes, or create custom brushes.
  • A library of papers for giving texture. Brushes respond to the characteristics of the paper.
  • Can be used for animation and scripting.

Guide Review - Corel Painter 9

Corel Painter 9 does a lot of amazing things and has an incredible array of brushes and drawing tools, but for me the most astounding is the Color Mixing palette. This is a digital version of the 'real thing'. Really! You select your colors and mix them on the palette, then pick up a mixed color and paint with it. And depending on what brush you're using, you'll run out of paint and have to pick up some more.

Each of the brushes has a range of variables. For example, with acrylics you can choose opaque or glazing, dry brush or not. The width of brush stroke can be changed. All the effects you can do with real paint on a real canvas. And some things you can do only digitally, such as having your watercolor paper stay 'wet' between painting sessions.

If you've used a drawing program before, you'll find it intuitive to use at a basic level. If you're new to drawing programs, it may be intimidating, but the Help is very comprehensive and understandable, so you should have more fun than frustration, even initially.

I doubt that Corel Painter will ever replace easel painting for me, simply because it lacks the tactile element (read: I can't squidge the paint with my fingers). But I'm already smitten with it as a digital sketchbook, for trying variations on a painting I'm working on, for manipulating photos to develop ideas. And I'm sure it will continue trying to seduce me as I learn how to use it better.

Note: A newer version of Painter is now available. Read a Review from About.com Graphics Software.

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