ArtRage Studio Pro 3 review

£54
Price when reviewed

The new ArtRage Studio Pro 3 is designed to challenge the longstanding market leaders for computer-based art, Corel Painter and its budget sibling Painter Essentials, both of which are starting to show their age.

The key component in ArtRage’s challenge is its interface. When you first start the program, it presents a large clean canvas the same size as the screen, with a pair of large graphical panels in each of the lower corners for selecting brush and paint colour. In addition there are a few small floating icons or “pods” that you can click to reveal additional power.

It’s all very clean, simple and modern, and also includes pressure-sensitive tablet, multi-touch and multi-screen support. Most importantly, with its user-definable shortcuts, Clear Canvas mode and auto-hiding pods and panels, the ArtRage interface does everything it can to get out of your way and let you get on with the business of painting and drawing.

ArtRage Studio Pro 3 - user interface

ArtRage has long offered the basics of pencils, chalks, crayons, air brush and marker pens, but its real strength has always been its oil handling. Here you can see the difference that a dedicated art package makes as your paint doesn’t just have colour but thickness and wetness. ArtRage even encourages you to squeeze on paint via the paint tube then spread it around with its roller, brush and palette knife, smearing it into any existing paint and the underlying canvas.

New additions here include a Watercolour brush that understands how much pigment and water is loaded and whether the underlying canvas is dry or wet. There’s also a new Inking Pen that smoothes the strokes it applies and a Gloop Pen that produces expanding blobs of ink.

The most useful new tool is the Sticker Spray, which lets you apply multiple bitmap images to create a stroke or spray. This lets you quickly add photo-realistic objects such as leaves or pebbles, or abstract images such as blobs or characters. However, in the art context, the most creative option is the ability to lay down natural media brushstrokes – especially useful when used with ArtRage’s ability to colour Stickers based on an original photo.

The second, Sticker Layers, are more unusual. These can be created either by dragging a single sticker onto the canvas or, more usually, by laying down a stroke with the Sticker Spray. The big advantage they offer is that you can then quickly reposition, transform or erase the individual marks that make up your stroke.

The program also goes out of its way to make customising your media via the Settings pod as intuitive as possible. For example, adding thinners to your oil or watercolour brush not only makes your strokes go further before drying out, but also more transparent and less likely to show bristle marks.

Details

Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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