Learn Corel Painter 2023 with Downloadable Video Lessons
In this course, Painter Master Aaron Rutten guides you through all of the important tools and features of Corel Painter 2023 while teaching you many of the digital painting tricks and techniques he has learned throughout his career.
In addition to discovering Painter’s essential content and features, you’ll also learn essential illustration skills that you can use to create art like a pro.
This Corel Painter 2023 course is suitable for beginners and intermediate Painter users who want a comprehensive guide through Painter’s content and features. After this course, you’ll be more confident using Painter’s interface and tools.
I’m Aaron Rutten and today I’ll be reviewing the top new features in Corel Painter 2023. Since I’ve already covered how to use the new features in other tutorials — and even more extensively in my course — this review will be more of my opinion of the software rather than how to use it.
Quick disclaimer: While I do earn revenue from affiliate links, and I received Painter 2023 for free for review purposes, this is not a sponsored video and all opinions are my own.
New Fluid Paint properties provide a substantial upgrade to brushes and the painting experience.
Color Selection Brushes can intuitively select color ranges to isolate areas of your painting.
Many Selection-based enhancements speed up selection workflows.
There are better methods for selecting objects using Machine Learning rather than brushes.
While the last few versions of Painter focused heavily on organizing content and squashing bugs, I’m excited that this version includes some new brush technology to play with.
The main feature I am excited about is Fluid Paint.
Because of the name, I don’t blame you if you expect Fluid Paint to flow and work like a souped-up version of Painter’s watercolor. However, that’s not the case.
What makes this technology “Fluid” is how smoothly the paint is able to transition between heavy and light Opacity when you are controlling it with pen pressure. Even applications like Photoshop do not have this degree of control over Opacity when linked to pen pressure.
There is also some fluid-like interaction between the paint and Grain of the canvas where thicker paint covers the Grain and thinner paint sinks into it.
Because much of Fluid Paint’s appeal is its control over pen pressure, you really have to try it yourself to feel the difference. Showing you Fluid Paint only gives you part of the story.
Fluid Paint Categories
The new Fluid Paint categories contain lots of new and updated brushes. And while they showcase the versatility of Fluid Paint, I think that might mislead users into thinking that Fluid Paint is a medium. — It’s not. — Fluid Paint is really just a name for a set of brush properties.
What makes Fluid Paint valuable is not the default variants, but the ability to convert your favorite pre-existing brushes to utilize Fluid Paint. So if you are a fine artist, you can make Oil or Acrylic brushes that utilize Fluid Paint. Or if you are a photo painter, your cloners can use Fluid Paint.
Fluid Paint Properties
By adding Fluid Paint properties, you’ll be giving your brushes a huge upgrade. For example, my paint brushes can now paint, blend and add organic textures intuitively and spontaneously. Before Fluid Paint, I would have had to use several brushes and techniques to achieve this same effect.
And Fluid Paint isn’t just for paint brushes, you can use it to enhance dry media and other categories as well.
In addition to the more pronounced grain, the ability for Fluid Paint to limit the lower end of the pressure from building up means that it is much easier to draw with very low opacity. This is especially useful if you are trying to get very light values with charcoal or other dry media.
Another valuable aspect of Fluid Paint is the ability to replace the opacity of paint in a controlled way. For instance, I can paint bright, glowing lights over dark areas and they stand out very easily. And with increased pressure control, my glowing edges don’t build up at low pressure. This technique would not be as simple to do in older versions of Painter.
And, by adding Paint Layering, you have even more control over whether the paint builds up to a light color or a dark color when you overlap strokes. This single property can make your Fluid Paint medium feel like opaque paint that covers or transparent paint that tints. You can even choose Color Burn to create a nice glazing effect.
Fluid Paint Limitations
While Fluid Paint is great, it’s not without its limitations:
First, you may notice that there are some issues with blending. Sometimes colors can mix in expected ways. You can remedy this to some degree by adjusting the Blending properties, but still it’s not ideal.
Second, there is no natural color mixing in Painter like there is in some of the other art applications. For example, yellow and blue make gray instead of green like you might expect from traditional media.
These limitations hold Fluid Paint back a bit, but hopefully those are some areas for improvement in future versions.
Despite those flaws, I’m really happy about how much this technology has improved my brush collection. And it has inspired me to add new techniques to my repertoire.
Fluid Paint is New
As with any new brush technology, it first takes comprehending the technology to understand how to use it. Then it takes working with the technology for some time — maybe even years — until an artist can develop techniques for using it. I am still discovering ways to use Thick Paint which was introduced 5 years ago. (That’s how long it’s been since we have seen a new brush technology.)
A lot of artists dismissed Thick Paint right off the bat as being useless and still avoid it because they never got comfortable with the properties. Yes, it has done wonders for me and the other artists who gave it a chance.
So I highly recommend giving Fluid Paint a fair shot. Even if you don’t use the default variants, add Fluid Paint to your favorite brushes and I’m certain it will improve your digital painting experience.
At the very least, the “Enhanced Cover” Method will improve the performance of your brushes if you are using a supported GPU. And there will be fewer artifacts where strokes and dabs overlap which means your work will look cleaner.
In my opinion, Fluid Paint is perhaps the most impactful change in Painter 2023, but here’s another one that I feel is going to benefit a lot of artists:
Color Selection Brushes
The next big thing in Painter 2023 are the new Color Selection brushes. Building upon the Selection Brushes which you can use to paint selections, Color Selection is a new set of brush properties that can detect differences in color while making selections.
I presume this is somewhat based on the Color Select feature which has been around for some time in Painter, but was never able to be used with a brush.
By defining a range of color Hue and Value, you can limit the Selection Brush to only select those areas. With multiple strokes, you can quickly isolate objects for compositing or cloning, or replace areas of your painting like the sky and more.
At first, it may take some getting used to the settings to get a good selection. What will be very helpful is to use another new feature which is the improved Selection Visualization. You can now show the overlay and the selection marquee at the same time or individually. Different combinations of these visualizations will make it easier to see the selection you are creating.
In addition to choosing from some new Color Selection variants, you can also edit that shape of your Selection brush from the Properties Bar if that makes it easier to get the type of selection you want.
The Color Selections feature is quite useful for a variety of tasks. In particular, I find that it allows me to separate layers that I may have merged but want to be separate again. I could either cut and paste that object onto its own layer, or I can just use the selection to isolate the effects to that area. I could even use the new Select Panel to save and re-use the selection or apply the selection as a Layer Mask.
The one negative thing I will say about the Color Selection feature is that it’s kind of late to the party. In an age of Machine Learning-based selections that can literally see objects in an image and select them instantly, painting selections by hand feels sort of archaic.
To be fair, there may be some instances where you actually do want the control of selecting a color range by painting over it, especially when art can be so abstract or stylized that even AI can’t make heads or tails of it. So I am kind of making an apples to oranges comparison to some degree.
Plus, not everyone has Photoshop or wants to use more than one application while working, so Painter’s Color Selection definitely has a lot of value for Painter artists.
Miscellaneous New Features
While there are many miscellaneous features and bug fixes that have been included in Painter 2023, it would be difficult for me to cobble them together into a singular top feature.
A lot has been done in this version to improve various aspects of Selections, but my tutorial on that feature covers it well enough that I need not repeat that here. So don’t let my omission of those features give you the impression that what I’m covering here is all that has changed in Painter 2023.
Have a look at my Painter 2023 tutorials if you’d like to learn more about what’s new in this version and how to use these features.
Should I Upgrade?
A question I get a lot on videos like this is whether or not someone would upgrade to this version.
In terms of applications stability and performance, it’s always recommended to have the latest version. Painter 2023 is going to perform better than older versions. If you are using an M1 Mac, Painter 2023 is natively supported on M1 chips with NEON acceleration for brushes that support it.
Even if Fluid Paint was the only update, I would be pretty happy as a Painter user. This is because I have been able to upgrade many of my brushes and develop new painting techniques.
Or in other words, Fluid Paint has made digital painting more efficient and more exciting for me. And what else can you ask for?
To put that in perspective, the brushes and techniques I use from here on out will utilize Fluid Paint to some degree. Therefore, many of my students are going to adopt Fluid Paint too. That’s called a game-changer.
And being able to select objects more easily is going to be a game-changer for artists. Why select objects the old way when we can easily paint selections now?
Whether they are photo painters, fine artists, illustrators or concept artists, I’d wager to say that most Painter users will benefit from either Fluid Paint properties or the Selection enhancements. It just takes learning the features and applying them to your work.
That’s all for this video. If you’d like a comprehensive explanation of how all of the new Painter 2023 features work and how they affect the application as a whole, check out my video training course below.
Don’t have Corel Painter 2023? You can save $100 off the full version with my coupon code PTRAR at checkout on painterartist.com
DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post, I bought this desk with my own money. I may earn revenue from purchases made through affiliate links in this review.
It’s been over a year since I purchased the Vari Electric Standing Desk and I’d like to share an update.
First and foremost, this desk has made a huge improvement in my overall health and wellbeing. The constant back pain I used to have is pretty much gone.
Any time I get uncomfortable, I just change positions. (Right now I am standing to write this post after having been sitting for an hour.)
Avoiding discomfort makes me happier and more motivated to work. I only wish I had invested in a desk like this years ago. I know a desk isn’t as fun as a new computer or other gear, but in retrospect, the desk should have taken priority over a lot of other gear I bought that I don’t even use now.
My only regrets are that I wish I had purchased the wider version. I have a lot of gear on the 48″ version and it feel a bit crowded. I do think the 48″ version fits better in the small space I have though.
It’s a minor gripe, but I would have preferred a desk with an automatic lift. I have to hold the button down to move the desk up or down.
Do yourself a favor and get a standing desk like this. This is the Vari Electric Standing Desk, but there are dozens of other manufacturers who make essentially the same thing. I can’t speak for the quality of those brands, but I’m happy with my purchase from Varidesk.
Check out my full video review of the Vari Electric Standing Desk
Today, I’m reviewing the 2021 version of the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16. This is a top-of-the-line graphics tablet with a built in display you can draw directly onto.
In this review, I’ll explain the new features and I’ll give you my overall opinion of the device.
Wacom sent me this device unconditionally for review purposes. I may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links in this article. All opinions in this review are my own.
The 2021 version of the Cintiq Pro 16 is a refresh of the previous generation which was released around 2016 or so. Wacom took a lot of the feedback from users and used it to improve upon the device. Let’s start with a quick overview of the key features that have not changed since 2016:
Overview of Specs
The 2021 Cintiq Pro 16 still has a 4K Resolution
It comes with the Pro Pen 2 which features 8192 Pressure Levels
You can also use other Wacom Pens like Pro Pen Slim or Art Pen which supports barrel Rotation
The display is made from Etched Glass with Optical Bonding to greatly reduce parallax
There is a Kensington mini lock slot
And the device is compatible with both PC and Mac
The accessories included are:
One USB-A to USB-C cable
One USB-C to USB-C cable
One HDMI cable
1 Power Brick and Power Cable
The cables are not super long, but long enough to connect to a desktop that is very near your desk. Most certainly, it will do for a laptop. But if you use use a standing desk like I do, you may want to pick up some longer cables from the thrift store.
While I like the design aesthetic and convenience of Wacom’s all-in-one cables, once you break one, the attraction fades. I broke the HDMI connection on the cable to my Wacom One, it was completely my fault, and I had to replace the entire cable rather than replacing just the HDMI cable. So, although they are not as tidy, I think the individual non-proprietary cables are less wasteful.
This tablet also comes with instructions, 2 year warranty in the US, and a weighted pen stand which can be opened to reveal 6 additional standard nibs and 4 felt nibs which have more of a marker feel to them. (With the one in the pen, that’s a total of 14 nibs.)
What’s New Compared to the Older Version
The build, weight and size are all about the same. So as you can see, the core features of this device are pretty much unchanged. Now let’s look at what’s new:
The most noticeable new feature are the (8) Express Keys are included on this model. Located on the back of the tablet, there are 4 buttons on each side. These buttons can be programmed to activate shortcuts and other commands.
The idea here is to allow you to press the keys where your hands will be holding the tablet.
Personally, I find the buttons to be in kind of an awkward position. I’m struggling to understand how this is ergonomic. The keys are too close to the edge, which doesn’t feel like it would be a very comfortable hand position long-term. As you can see, the legs prevent the keys from moving any farther in, so I’d move the Express Keys down a bit and then over toward the back. I’d make them flat but maybe a bit inset like the keys on the Intuos.
If you just pinch one key at a time, the placement isn’t too bad. But my second gripe is that you have to feel the buttons (which isn’t difficult because they are elevated quite far off the surface) but that means you need to keep all 4 fingers there.
If the Express Keys have to be on the very edge of the tablet, then there really should be some LED or at least markings on the side of the tablet to show you where each key is so you don’t have to rely on feel. You could put a few stickers on there yourself I suppose.
That’s not to mention that it’s impossible to have your hands on all 8 keys while simultaneously drawing on the tablet. Although, you can still press the keys while holding the pen.
If you need more than 8 buttons, you can purchase the optional Wacom Express Key Remote. There’s no way to dock it to the Cintiq Pro 16. but I’d recommend upgrading to the remote. I think these Express Keys are a little too clunky for my taste but better than nothing and certainly useful for invoking Display Toggle and On-Screen Keys.
The location and style of the pen holder has been changed. Instead of being located on the top of the tablet, it’s now on the sides. You can move the holder to either side depending on your handedness.
Although, the holder does block the Express Keys a bit. Not as much when the pen is removed. but If I were using the Express Keys often, I wouldn’t have the holder attached.
Rather than the plastic and metal pen holder that was on the previous generation, this one is a fabric sleeve with an attached nib holder hiding 3 spare nibs. This is the same pen holder you see on the non-pro Cintiq 16 and 22.
I’m pleased to see a refresh of the multi-touch on Wacom’s devices.
Touch has come a long way. Early multi-touch was very inconsistent and I would rarely use it. The Cintiq 27 QHD I use currently has pretty decent touch. However it does glitch out sometimes, so I usually keep it disabled until I need it.
I haven’t tested it extensively, but the new multi-touch feels much more responsive. The motion appears smoother and the movement of the canvas is less choppy.
Panning and zooming feel much improved, but rotation feels a lot different. I’m used to using one hand to rotate, but it feels like it now takes repeated gestures to get a full rotation. However, if I use two hands, it rotates very smoothly.
If this is how it is, I can probably get used to it, but what I would prefer is a more sensitive rotation or at least a setting to control rotation sensitivity so that I can make it feel more responsive.
In the Wacom Tablet Properties, there is also an option to use Wacom or Windows Gestures.
The Cintiq Pro 16 features a physical switch on the top-edge of the bezel for enabling and disabling multi-touch. There is a bit of a delay so the switch just triggers the Touch On/Off command like an Express Key would.
Once you do this, the Wacom Tablet Properties give you the option to either Disable All Touch Input, or Disable Touch Input except for On-Screen Controls. On-Screen Controls are buttons that are on-screen rather than physical.
This switch is a nice addition because then you don’t have to waste an Express Key on that function.
The Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 is slightly brighter and more color accurate than its predecessor at 98% of Adobe RGB. This puts in on-par with the larger Cintiq Pros.
The Cintiq Pro 16 can be connected as a display through HDMI, or USB-C, if your computer supports DisplayPort Alt Mode or Thunderbolt 3. The USB-C connection only requires a single USB-C cable.
If you are connecting the display through HDMI, you’ll also need to connect an additional USB-A or USB-C cable for the data transmission. My computer was a little picky about which USB port I used, but I got it working. (Don’t use a USB Hub.)
Unfortunately, you cannot both power the Cintiq and display video with a single USB-C cable.
No Wacom Link or Adapters are included, but you can for example, use an adapter to convert DVI to HDMI. Although, that may reduce the display resolution to 2560×1440 or lower. I had to make sure to connect directly to HDMI on my video card to get the full 4K resolution. HDMI 2.0 or later is required for 4K.
The Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 has built-in folding legs that put the tablet at a slight 20 degree incline. I happen to prefer drawing with my tablet more upright, so these legs never quite do it for me.
One of the small features that I’m really happy to see is the VESA mounting holes on the back of the device. This allows you to attach your display to a monitor arm like an Ergotron.
The older generation lacked this feature and instead had a clunky 3 position stand. I recall dozens of people selling their own sketchy-looking hand-made VESA mounting systems.
Wacom offers an optional adjustable stand for the Cintiq Pro 16 which connects to the VESA mount. I’d go ahead an pick that up if you don’t like hunching over while drawing.
And the last new feature I will mention is that the cables do not contain PVC. Because we need to conserve that for pants… You know, because of Covid.
But PVC is also harmful to the environment.
Now that we’ve looked at all of the features, let’s see how the device performs for digital art.
For the most part, you can expect that a Wacom Pro Pen 2 is going to perform pretty much the same across any of the devices that support it. For example, the lines I draw are not going to be unintentionally wobbly.
Unlike many of their competitors, Wacom’s not wasting anyone’s time with a sub-par pen and drawing experience. And as a reviewer, I appreciate when things just work right out of the box.
One thing that is sort of drawing related is the noise that the fans make. They are definitely audible compared to my Cintiq 27 QHD Touch, which is near silent. Something about these newer Cintiq Pros are noisier and I don’t like that as someone who records what I am drawing.
Price & Alternatives
The Cintiq Pro 16 is $1,4999.95.
If that sounds outside of your price range, you can get a display tablet like this for far less than $1500. The Wacom One is only $399. And although it has fewer features and a smaller display, it still offers a great on-screen drawing experience.
At $1,199, there is also the Cintiq 22 which is quite a bit larger. and it comes with an adjustable stand. Although the screen resolution is lower at only 1080p. I’ll discuss some of the differences between the Cintiq Pro and the non-Pro models in just a bit.
If you want to spend a bit more for a larger display, you can get the non-touch version of the Cintiq Pro 24 for $1,999.95. But then you are probably going to want an Ergotron Arm or a stand which can be another $200 or $500 on top of that.
I don’t know if there will eventually be a 13 inch model of the Cintiq Pro like there was with the previous generation, but that could be a bit cheaper as well.
Who Is It For?
So who is the Cintiq Pro 16 for?
Ultimately, I think it just comes down to size preference. The price of the Cintiq Pro 16 is probably overkill for most hobbyists, so it will most likely be professionals buying this.
If you want the best display tablet on the market, but don’t have the desk space for one of the larger Cintiq Pros, then this is the next best option. It really does look and feel like the larger Cintiq Pros, only smaller.
Just as well, if you are a student and you want the same quality device as the industry professionals use, the Cintiq Pros will give you the same performance at home as you are used to at school.
Compared to Cintiq 16 and 22
Wacom has some confusing product names. So I don’t blame you if you get the Cintiq Pro 16 mixed up with the regular ol’ Cintiq 16. So next, I’ll quickly list some of the key differences between the Pro and non-Pro Cintiq 16 and 22:
The Pro version of the Wacom Cintiq 16 has a higher display resolution, more accurate color representation, built-in Express Keys, multi-touch, an etched glass surface, and it can be connected to your computer through USB-C in addition to HDMI.
The only advantage the Cintiq 16 has over the Pro 16 is that it has better protection for the cables where they attach to the display. There is a little compartment you have to open which keeps the cables from getting broken at the connection points.
The cables on the Pro 16 feel like they are attached firmly, but they do wiggle a bit.
I’m sure the compartment was probably scrapped in order to make the design thinner. Plus the compartment makes it more time-consuming to take apart if you want to your tablet to be portable.
Both the Cintiq 16 and the Cintiq Pro 16 have folding legs. But as I mentioned earlier, the Cintiq 22 comes with the built in stand.
Clues About Next Generation Cintiq 24 & 32
Before I wrap up this review, I think it would be fun to speculate on what clues the updates to the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 might give us to the next generation of larger Cintiq Pro 24 and 32s.
For the record, I don’t have any insider information about upcoming Wacom products. I’m just making educated guesses.
At first, I was expecting the refreshed Cintiq Pro 16 would feature an 8K resolution. This signaled to me that perhaps the next large-format Cintiq Pros are either not going to be 8K, or they aren’t coming for a while longer. (There was about a 2 year gap between the first generation Cintiq Pro 16 and the Cintiq Pro 24. And that was before all of the worldwide supply chain issues we are having now.)
But as my eyes were struggling to see much of a difference between HD and 4K on such a small screen, I realized that 8K would be overkill for a small 16 inch screen like this. So perhaps we will see a Cintiq 24 or 32 with an 8K display since you can better appreciate the resolution at larger scales. (Even better would be a 27 inch model.)
A higher resolution certainly would be a feature that would differentiate the larger Cintiq Pros from the smaller ones.
What seems the least likely is that there will be a similar refresh of the larger Cintiq Pros. I can’t see built-in Express Keys as being much of a reason to upgrade since the Express Key Remote is a better option and it is included with the current Cintiq Pro 24 and 32. Improved multi-touch would be welcome, but most everything else that was added to the refreshed Cintiq Pro 16 already exists in the current Cintiq Pro 24 and 32.
While it’s not as substantial of an upgrade as I had initially expected, I think it’s great that Wacom has used user feedback to improve upon the design of the Cintiq Pro 16. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line 16 inch display tablet, I highly recommend the Cintiq Pro 16.
If you’re like me, you want to have success selling your digital art NFTs, but you’ve found that barriers like Ethereum gas fees are keeping you from getting beyond testing the waters. In this review, I will introduce you to what could just be a better, user-first way of creating digital art NFTs, that just about any artist can take advantage of.
Quick disclaimer: This review is intended to introduce you to the Pastel Network, but is not meant to be investment advice. This review is sponsored by Pastel. As always, all opinions in this review are my own.
What is Pastel?
First, what is Pastel? Pastel is the world’s most advanced, secure, and decentralized blockchain for NFTs. Pastel’s network and platform are fully dedicated to the creation, validation, storage and exchange of provably-rare digital assets.
In order to understand what all of that means, we need to explore the current NFT creation ecosystem.
What Are the Barriers of Buying and Selling Digital Art NFTs?
If you’ve tried to create an NFT in 2021, you’ve likely been discouraged by a few of the barriers to entry such as: the excessive gas fees to mint an NFT, the security of blockchain transactions, the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies, the integrity of NFTs over time, and the authenticity of rare assets.
That’s not to mention all of the prerequisite stuff you have to learn to even get set up with a wallet and purchase some Ethereum.
Let’s start by addressing the biggest turn off for me, which are the excessively high Gas Fees associated with creating NFTs.
Gas Fees are essentially the fee you pay to process a transaction, such as minting (or creating) an NFT. I had to put a hold on building up my digital art NFT portfolio because minting required $40 per image (or in some cases, even double or triple that) in Gas Fees.
And forget about buying any NFTs from other artists. I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to pay more in gas fees than the retail price of the artwork.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who just want to buy or sell affordable NFTs without so many zeros in the price have been excluded from the market due to the influence of the price of Ethereum and the resulting gas fees, which only get higher when the Ethereum network becomes congested.
Pastel aims to make minting an NFT on their network much more affordable and practical. Somewhere between 5 cents to 50 cents per image.
The fees are balanced automatically by the network, so that unlike Ethereum, even during high levels of network activity or interest in the PSL token, the transaction fees scale in proportion. For example, if the network difficulty were increased by 10x, the cost of minting would decrease to 1/10th.
As I just mentioned, I had to spend $40 in Ether just to mint a single piece of artwork on the Ethereum network, so a fee of less than a dollar per image is more than reasonable. Had I waited a few more months, I could have spent the money I used to mint one image in Ethereum to mint much of my portfolio on the Pastel network.
There are also benefits like file storage that you are paying for when you register an asset on the Pastel network, but we’ll come back to that.
My goal is to try not to get too technical about what I’m discussing in this review, but we do need to at least get an idea of the inner workings of a blockchain to explain the benefits that are specific to artists.
Much like an art museum, which relies on security guards, alarms and cameras to protect its assets, blockchains also need to be secured 24/7. Just like a burglar can break into a gallery and steal from or vandalize it, a hacker could disrupt a blockchain as well.
While blockchains are developed with security in mind, they are not all equal. The Pastel blockchain relies on multiple Supernodes to: provide additional security for the network, register and store NFTs, authenticate users, process transactions, and perform other essential tasks.
Anyone with the means to can operate a supernode without the reliance of any third party, and even make a profit for their efforts. But unlike an art museum, no one person, organization or government has ownership of the blockchain.
Though the supernodes facilitate essential NFT related tasks, they do not own the network. The Pastel protocol always requires that multiple, randomly selected nodes perform the work. These nodes work independently to reach a secure consensus, and supernodes even periodically challenge one another to prove that they are storing the correct information.
So then who owns the Pastel network? No one. That’s the cool thing about it, it’s self-sustaining. Who owns the lake? The fish? The water? The algae? The earth? Metaphorically, it makes sense: Anyone who participates in the Pastel network can benefit from it, but unlike a lake, no one can take possession of it.
It really is sort of an ecosystem: Creators have a purpose-built platform that enables them to generate income from their NFTs, the operators of supernodes earn something for processing the transactions and storing NFTs, and a portion of the transaction fees sustain all of the necessary support functions to keep the decentralized network operational.
Pastel even supports the development of third party applications on top of the Pastel network to encourage collaboration.
The PSL Token
While many applications for NFT creation run on Ethereum. Pastel runs on the proprietary PSL token, since it is its own blockchain. At its core, the PSL token is based on Bitcoin, which means that it works in a similar way: PSL is a store of value that can be used for transactions or transferred to other users. It also utilizes some of the privacy and security benefits of Zcash.
Just like other cryptocurrencies, PSL can be converted to other tokens or fiat currency on an exchange. You can even earn royalties from future sales of your work. Right now, the limit is up to 10%. Personally, I think this should be higher, but 10% is better than no royalty option at all.
In terms of accessibility, you can add PSL to your wallet using a variety of methods rather than relying solely on something like Metamask.
But what really makes the PSL token special is that it enables users to securely register and store their NFTs on the Pastel Network. I’ll explain more about that later in this review.
The Pastel network also includes a deflationary mechanism whereby a small amount of PSL is burned or spent by users during regular activity on the network. For example, it will cost you 1,000 PSL to create a PastelID to register your signature on the network. (At the time of publishing this review 1,000 PSL is worth around $4 USD.) Those tokens are burned or made unspendable to control inflation.
There are other activities performed by supernodes, buyers and sellers, which contribute to the burning of PSL tokens as well.
Environmental Impact of Digital Art NFTs
For those buyers and sellers who are concerned about the environmental impact of creating and selling NFTs, you may be relieved to know that Pastel is built with efficiency and long-term scalability in mind.
And to offset carbon emissions related to cryptocurrency, a percentage of every registration fee is donated to a non-profit that plants new trees.
So now that we’ve covered some of the technical stuff, let’s discuss the benefits of Pastel and how they might be useful for artists.
Integrity of NFTs Over Time
Both buyers and sellers of NFTs can agree that a digital asset should last (theoretically) forever and shouldn’t simply vanish or become inaccessible. If you think those NFTs you bought or sold are stored on some proprietary network that will host the images for all eternity, you may be surprised to learn that in most cases, you only own the token. — The actual digital asset may be stored on a third party cloud service hosted by Google or Amazon.
That means if the company hosting the file shuts down, or the links to your asset become inaccessible, so does the ability to retrieve the actual substance of an NFT, and you are just left with a dead (but provably-rare) link.
Nearly every NFT project misses this very important aspect of digital assets: they need to be stored and preserved in a sustainable and reliable way for a long, long time, otherwise what is the point in purchasing a digital painting over a physical print?
Pastel aims to solve this problem by storing, not just the token, but the entire digital asset in the Pastel blockchain. This truly distributed storage system enables a digital painting to be broken up into random chunks and shared across the supernodes on the Pastel network. As long as there are Pastel supernodes in operation, the artwork or asset can always be accessed by its owner.
Even if there was a global disaster and 95% of all nodes went down, you could still recover the file from the remaining nodes.
Another concern that creators and collectors have in common is the authenticity of NFTs. Online impersonation is a real threat, which creates a lot of anxiety in creators who are worried that someone will steal their work.
Furthermore, counterfeiting discourages collectors from purchasing work because, although some NFT marketplaces offer Verification Badges, an artist may require a significant online following to even be considered for a review.
Pastel addresses digital asset authenticity by allowing creators to establish a unique identity on the decentralized Pastel network. Only the creator’s private key can be used to validate transactions, and anyone can check to see if an NFT is digitally signed by the true artist, rather than an impostor.
By sharing their Pastel ID, a creator can alleviate some of the concern their patrons may have surrounding the authenticity of their work.
But what if someone takes your digital artwork and reuploads a copy of it to sell as a counterfeit NFT? What if they tweak your work a bit first?
Pastel has a really impressive way of dealing with duplicate or even near-duplicate artwork, and is the only NFT platform I have seen even trying to tackle this problem.
When an image is validated on the network, it is assigned a unique fingerprint which encompasses not only the original image, but also a series of AI Machine Learning simulations showing how the image may look when color corrected, warped, flipped, cropped, etcetera. Not only does that highlight how lazy counterfeiters are, but it’s also really clever.
What’s also remarkable is that the Pastel network can assign a level of rareness to the image data of each new NFT. It compares it to all existing NFTs on the network, to NFTs on comparable platforms like OpenSea, and even all of the open database of images on the internet. Think of it like a really neat reverse image search on Google.
If the asset has been signed and is not significantly similar to any other image on the Pastel network, then it earns the special designation of Rare to Pastel. This gives buyers a level of confidence that they are buying an original and not a counterfeit.
If the image asset is truly unique and cannot even be found in external sources like Google Search, then it is designated as New to the Internet. This is a way to certify that the NFT you are selling is truly rare and, prior to certification, has never been seen on the internet.
While the previous level of authenticity may suffice for the casual NFT collector, New to the Internet is more geared toward buyers who are interested in purchasing a work because it is exceptionally rare.
In addition to validating that images uploaded to the Pastel network are not duplicates, files are also scanned by supernodes for imagery that is Not Safe For Work. If that’s what you want to upload, go for it. The Pastel network allows NSFW content — in fact it’s permissionless to register an asset — but it will designate NSFW images accordingly so that buyers can browse the market without seeing anything they might find offensive.
Just as well, operators of Supernodes can choose which image settings they want to support, with the option to opt out of hosting NSFW files of various types or altogether.
OK. I’m impressed. I went from being excited about NFTs, to disappointed, to excited again. What Pastel aims to do really does alleviate a lot of the concerns that I have about taking the next step with NFTs.
And I know a lot of people who want to purchase NFTs will appreciate the guidance and authentication features offered by the Pastel network. All of this helps to establish confidence in the NFT marketplace.
Pastel’s borderless currency and low price point for entry makes it significantly easier for the average artist to start selling NFTs. It also removes many of the barriers for buyers which encourages more collectors to become both comfortable and capable of buying an NFT.
The Pastel team is managed by developers, cryptographers, technologists and many other talented people. It is decentralized, so no underlying stakeholder or individual owns more than 5% of the total supply of PSL tokens.
Pastel’s founder is Jeff Emanuel, who is an aspiring digital artist among other things. He and I share the desire to solve some of the obstacles that stand in the way of artists, both traditional and digital.
The Pastel team believes that rare digital assets are important enough of an application to merit their own, purpose-built system. And I couldn’t agree more.
The Pastel network is live and builders can start developing really cool things like their own platforms directly on top of Pastel today.
Pastel will also be launching its own marketplace on the network early next month. I’ll be making a follow up video demonstrating how to use the network to create, buy, trade and sell digital art NFTs so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss that video.
That brings us to the end of my review of the Pastel network. I’ve greatly simplified what Pastel can do, so if you are interested in learning more about the project, check out their website at pastel.network, follow them on social media and subscribe to their YouTube channel.