A new summer means a new Corel Painter. This year around, we’re welcoming Painter 2020. The new version is an improvement over the previous ones in many ways and it’s not just about new brushes. It’s principally about performance and interface design. And that’s a good thing.
Serif, the developers of Affinity Photo and Designer, last week released their much-anticipated publishing app, Affinity Publisher. The new layout design app comes with a good deal of unique and very clever features, including “StudioLink”, an integration system – that re-defines the adjective “seamless” – between Publisher and their Designer and Photo apps.
Starting with Affinity Photo and Designer, these two apps have been updated to version 1.7 as you undoubtedly know by now. The updates have a lot in common and bring a much improved and certainly faster RAW processing engine. On my iMac 5K Retina mid-2017, they load my Sony Alpha 700 images much faster than before. The update also comes with a new demosaicing algorithm that is a bit more accurate in rendering the colours and sharpness of my old camera’s files. It should also be more effective at reducing noise and hot pixel removal, but I haven’t tested that yet. Another new feature is that you now get access to a wider colour space in Affinity Photo (great for HDR). The brush engine was rewritten as well and all-new multi-brushes were added. My personal favourite is the new symmetry mode that works with up to 32 “divisions”. Batch processing has been improved, a new assets panel is available for quick drag and drop of commonly used elements, and the layers panel has had a …
Apple’s Magic Mouse is a great device, but it’s limited in what you can do with it. You can customise the mouse a bit, but for editing movies with Final Cut Pro X, for example, that customisation falls short. Enter BetterTouchTool, a little software I just discovered.
Affinity Designer for iPad is the much anticipated competitor of Adobe Illustrator on the iPad. It’s a well-designed port from Designer on the Mac in terms of power and capabilities, and of integration with the iOS environment.
Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Affinity Designer and Photo, allow you to create patterns that you can use and reuse as backgrounds, desktop or real-world wallpaper, etc. They all require you to start from a vector or bitmap image and then work out how to make it seamlessly repeating. Patternodes has found a simpler, more user-friendly way to do it.
To manage your fonts on a macOS system, there’s no better tool than Suitcase Fusion. Apple’s own FontBook is a bit on the skinny side and other font managers all fail in some areas. Suitcase Fusion has proven its robustness and value for managing thousands of fonts, supporting your legal duties towards licensing and your design needs.
Another year, another release of Corel Painter. The new version is packed with new features that guarantee jaw dropping awesomeness. There just seems no limit to Corel’s ambition to develop an application that is meant to create digital art that looks like the real thing. Combined with the newest Wacom Intuos Pro and its amazing natural feel, Painter 2018 is for digital artists to drool over.
SketchBook Pro users enjoy a whole year of improvements and new features even, for a price of about €30/year. A few months ago, Autodesk’s sketch app was upgraded to version 8, which comes with textured brushes, a new predictive stroke and direct access to brush libraries created by leading professionals. I checked out if the new stuff is worth the subscription money.
Most users in the creative industry know they should regularly calibrate and profile their monitor for colour-critical work, but there’s more to colour accuracy than keeping your monitor in shape colour-wise. If you’re going to be printing or projecting your photos, art or videos, you’d better calibrate the output equipment as well. In fact, if you want to be absolutely certain colours will be accurately rendered from input to output, you will need to calibrate — or at least profile — cameras, scanners, monitors, printers and projectors. There’s only one affordable option that is accurate enough: the Red Dot Award winning X-Rite i1Pro 2 and I had the chance to test the Photo version.