Clip Studio Paint EX is the most complete suite of drawing and painting tools available from Celsys in Japan. It’s perceived as the biggest competitor of Corel Painter. Both these apps were designed for creators who love to draw and paint with a brush feel that comes close to the real-world thing, but Clip Studio is also a complete comic strip and animation creations tool.
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 …
On the Mac, the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is a newcomer, but the application suite has been around for many years on the Windows platform. The Mac version is a successful port in terms of feature set, but it probably won’t dethrone Adobe apps, nor kill the Affinity Photo and Designer apps. Corel has waited a bit too long and hasn’t fit out the Corel apps with a streamlined enough interface for that to happen, in my opinion.
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.
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.
Wacom’s new Intuos Pro graphics tablet is the thinnest since the company started selling graphics tablets many years ago. Wacom sells its professional line of tablets most often to graphics designers and photographers, but I managed to put it to good use with mocha Pro and Motion as well. The experience led me to try to use the newest Intuos Pro with Final Cut Pro X, my goal being to use it as a poor man’s control surface. For my tests, Wacom kindly sent me a large Paper Edition model.
Creating 3D models can be quite challenging. Applications like Cinema 4D and Maya are all-round 3D apps. They allow you to create 3D worlds and animations that can be used just as effectively in a game as in a presentation or blockbuster movie. Strata Design 3D CX 8.1.0, the Winter 2015-2016 release I got to review, is more focused on presenting 3D model design — objects, products, architecture, interior design… — in the most realistic and efficient way. The app has a learning curve, but it sure isn’t as steep as Maya’s or Cinema 4D’s.