Work around: Getting Painter 2022/2023 to work with Slim Pen 2 and Surface Pro 8

This post is about how to work around issues with pressure sensitivity, drawing broken lines, and various UI defects in Corel Painter 2022/2023 when running on a Microsoft Surface Pro 8 and using the Slim Pen 2. I managed to restore nearly full painting functionality to Painter 2022/2023 by installing the latest Intel XE drivers and tuning the pen sensitivity in both the Surface app supplied with my machine and the Corel Painter brush tracking preference.

Problem

Recent Surface devices (after the Surface Book 2) seem to exhibit problems with lack of pen pressure sensitivity, the pen skipping while trying to make a continuous brush stroke leading to broken/dashed lines, and UI defects such as tool bar icons, the color wheel, mixer and other parts not updating. These problems seem to affect Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio and are not fixed in Corel Painter 2023. I also posted a suggestion summarizing the problems in detail and the various tests I tried a few weeks ago.

Hardware/Software

This work around was created and tested on:

  •  Surface Pro 8 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 model with 16 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. The machine came with Windows 11 Home and as of this writing the installed version is 21H2 OS build 22000.978.
  • Microsoft Slim Pen 2
  • Corel Painter 2022 v 2022.0.1.171 (update 1 applied)
  • Corel Painter 2023 v 2023.0.0.244
  • Intel Iris XE Graphics driver 31.0.101.3413.

Solution

  1. My Surface Pro came factory installed with v27 of the Intel Iris XE graphics driver.  The v27 driver is not compatible with Painter 2022/2023 and causes the UI glitches. We fix this with a graphics driver update. Right now Windows update is serving v27. Go to the Intel site directly and download the latest  Windows DCH drivers.

    Install and reboot as needed. Keep the driver download for future reinstalls. Windows update overwrote my last install when an update came and I had to reinstall the driver. Apparently Windows Update has a habit of doing this. Hopefully, when Microsoft itself upgrades the drivers this won't be an issue.



  2. Open the Surface app that came with your device. Go to the pen pressure sensitivity preference and adjust the pen pressure slider until it's set at 3. You want light pen pressure because Corel Painter 2022/2023 seems to only work well with lighter pen pressures. If you have the Surface Pen set at the default pen pressure shipped with Surface then this will cause the broken/skipping lines issue with all but the lightest pressure.

    This is a software bug with Painter since I did not run into issues with this in ArtRage Vitae, OneNote, Concepts, Sketchable, and Adobe Fresco. Other users have reported similar findings.

    Update (Nov 23 2022): I've found that I can still get good results with the pen pressure at 4 or even 5. This will depend on the tools you're trying to use in Painter. Hard dry media that needs a large pressure range will be the most impacted by this bug. Lower the pressure until you get consistent non-skipping results. Right now I have my SP8 pen pressure set at 4. 



  3. Start Painter 2022/2023. Go to Edit > Preferences > Tablet. Ensure your Tablet Settings are set to RTS-compatible device (Real-Time Stylus). Enable multi-touch if you want. Restart Painter. This setting enables pen pressure sensitivity for the Slim Pen 2.



  4. Next, in Painter, go to Edit > Preferences > Brush Tracking. To compensate for the light pen pressure we set up in the Surface App we adjust the global pen pressure setting in Painter. Without doing this you'll need to press hard to make a stroke which in turn causes the skipping. Lower the Scale to around 15-18% to start. I also decreased the power to 1.52. You'll need to experiment on this step to make the settings suit your needs. Create a preset to store your setting once you have it the way you like.

    Update (Nov 23 2022): Choosing the legacy profile is also a way to get a starting pressure curve that looks like the below. I've noticed that if you change the pressure curve you may need to close the document you are on and re-open it before the pen works again. 

     

    Another clue that Corel Painter seems to have some fundamental problem with the Surface/Slim Pen 2 combo is that the scratchpad at the left does not work. You'll need to enter these numbers manually or use the sliders.

  5. You should now be able to enjoy pen pressure sensitivity and tilt with your Slim Pen 2 and Corel Painter 2022/2023. Below are some stroke tests using a variety of brushes. Note that the green line is broken. This is because I applied heavy pen pressure (heavier than I would normally ever use). Whatever the underlying incompatibilities are with Painter and Surface are still there. The steps in this post just mask it to the extent that you may only rarely encounter them.

Caveats and Support

It's entirely possible that we're not getting the full range of pressure sensitivity with such extreme adjustments, but it's better than nothing and so far it seems to meet my needs as a secondary painting/drawing device. If you're thinking of using Surface with Corel Painter as your primary device I'd think carefully as support seems fragile.

Surface owners, please reply to this post with your machine specs if you got this fix to work (and even if it did not work for you) so that other Surface artists can benefit. Spread this on your socials. Let folks know. Enjoy!

For the price of this software, we need a real fix Corel! Surface users are spending a premium for these great machines and are an audience that can probably afford your software - if they can actually use it.