Why I've chosen not to upgrade this year to 2021 - a personal evaluation

I downloaded the trial of Painter 2021 and have decided not to update this year (even though I did in past years). The cost, even at early reductions for upgrades, was still way overpriced. However, my main reason is that it doesn’t add anything new for my use.

Enhanced performance is the prime promotional push. Yet, I have no interest in faster brushes and mine have performed more than adequately for me. I have used the software since Painter 11 and any old lags are mostly gone a while back. However, I do have a fairly good speed, and graphics card on my PC though.

Changes to thick paint haven’t improved things enough for me- though putting a real-time slider for thickness more readily accessible, is better. I still don’t find them that convincing emulating thick paint and I have even seen iPad apps do it better. The cloning og Thick Paint is still poor. With older brush types, when you selected Cloning, ‘clone colour’ was what was drawn on. You could then take that specific colour and smear it elsewhere (and it had the depth and quality of the brush used).  Cloning with thick paint is more like the Hard Cover Cloner and it just rolls out a photocopy of the original with a sort of gel effect over it. Perhaps it can be tweaked in some way but it looks poor out of the box. Honestly, I felt disenchanted with the whole program and didn’t feel motivated o try and improve it.

Then we have a new category of brushes of ‘Thick Paint compatible’ brushes, which are capable of being combined with thick paint (as other categories don’t, even though you can sit them on other layers). This seems very limited. I find workflow like the impasto brushes better as they readily combine with anything anywhere. At least in 2021 you can now lift the canvas to a thick paint layer.

AI and other effects are something I am interested in and familiar with. The new Painter ones are very basic and disappointing to my eye. There are 12 styles, which can be tweaked. Compare that with Topaz Studio (MUCH cheaper despite customer rebellion over Topaz planned pricing a few months back). Studio comes with 100 AI effects: all tweakable and stackable, and all can be saved as custom presets. They are more interesting too.

Then for similar non-AI effects of comparable sketch effects, paintings (all tweakable), even the free FotoSketcher software handles many situations at least as well as some of the default Painter ones. I could go on.  However, you’d be better off investing in a range of iPad effects and running your canvas image through them before starting.

For me, Painter is now pretty complex and mostly regarded as professional software, even though hobbyists like me use it. These AI effects don’t give a professional much to work with. Even as a hobbyist, they look very repetitive and machine driven.

Perhaps PCs and Macs just aren’t fast enough yet to make the leap to something more creative with these. I regularly do an initial combining of an image with any art or image of my choice in deepdreamgenerator.com AI. I then bring it into Painter and play with it as I wish. This may not be commercial enough yet as there is a lot of wastage and incomplete outcomes, and it requires a lot of grunt. It seems to me it’s the only way I’ve found to get something more creative happening as results are always different and often unexpected. I’ve been waiting for someone to manage a desktop version of this direction.

Then there is new Clone tinting capability and new Clone tinting brush category in 2021 but that isn’t a sales angle for me. Nor are some additions to layer controls, Sidecar support on Mac, and tilt for Apple pencil.

That’s about it really. Perhaps Painter has hit a wall as much other compatible software seems to be spinning wheels not offering much for those wanting to push creative boundaries with these tools. The price hike seems crazy, especially as no obvious rabbits are being pulled out of hats. In the current global economic climate, many may not be upgrading anyway this year, and for me would need a lot mor encouragement to break their piggy banks.

Perhaps others will celebrate enhancements this version offers but it won’t add anything to my life. I have been loyal to Corel for many years, and used CorelDraw from the early days. I stopped updating their Graphics Suite a few years back. It looks like Painter may join that trend.