I really enjoyed painter as a kid and just wanted to give my personal take. I started my digital art journey with corel painter 7 many years ago when I first started off in my career.
After working in the entertainment space for awhile now and see what artist needs I would love to make a few suggestions.
1.) Layers need to be re hauled
The layers are very strange. I was so disappointed when I was preparing my layers from photoshopto bring my work into painter. My photoshop clipping mask were broke and the psd was a jumbled visual mess. I was shocked that the most basic thing like clipping mask wasnt available in painter at this point. Even apps on the Ipad have this feature.
The layer system is outdated and needs to simplified.
2.) Painter has alot of botton and settings that over complicate things
I feel the tools should be simple. All these special layers for painting is over complicated in my opinion. Also all the settings and slider for brushes can be a bit much like water color layers, and drying the water color , ect. Just want to select a brush, put down a mark and get a great result. Simple. I think artist just want put down a mark and get a beautiful result.
The need to mimick real life isnt about settings, its about the result you get from the stroke. In procreate for Ipad, Im not constantly slidding wetness and dryness and all this other stuff. It's the same as other brushes but gives a different result.
3.) Probably dont need 12 versions of the same brush. Theres a ton of brushes but when you think about how many are actually usable, I feel you can simlify things alot and get rid of most of these, https://realisticpaint.com/index.html does a good example of simplicity.
4.) Overall I think the first 2 points I made would go along way personally. Painter oil brushes engine has some of the greatest blending I ever seen but most people dont even really know because it's alittle overwhelming for some. Simplicty simplicity simplicity. I honestly thing starting over and taking a look a look at other modern day offerings like procreate and figure out how you can simplify the software to make it function and more approachable because theres a lot of love and brilliance inside this software. I want to see painter rise again.
Definitely agree that the layer system in Painter could use an update. I already have a separate suggestion about layer group masks. I'd also welcome having more of the standard PS blend modes and Colour Dodge specifically.
As for the Painter brush settings, I have mixed feelings. I've spent 10 years using Painter on/off and am just coming to grips with the settings. Not that they are super hard to understand but just because of lack of time. I think the tooltips since P2019 have been great and are probably the best of any paint software I've used. When I try to get a brush look in Photoshop it always seems like a struggle because you have to internalize how you'd try to get to a certain look by internalizing Photoshop's brush settings and then mapping that back to how you envision a brush to work. The beauty of Painter is that we have controls like bristle feature density. That's easier than coming up with some stamp to do the same thing. The price is that for each simulation you have varying controls.
I do think for artists with an established style the problem with Painter as a product is that you aren't likely to really get value out of improvements to parts of the brush technology that you're not going to use. Like I'll probably never use thick paint. But that's another discussion.
As for #3, I get what you mean, but I do like that the whole legacy of Painter's brushes are on tap for the program. Is there a lot of duplication? Probably, but I found as I dug deeper in the program being able to have worked examples of how to use the brush controls is valuable.