Corel Painter 2023 Review

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • There are better methods for selecting objects with Machine Learning.


Fluid Paint

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.

A stroke from heavy to light pressure using a Fluid Paint brush

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.

Fluid Paint is a brush property, not a medium

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.

Brushes using the “Enhanced Cover” Method can enable Fluid Paint

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.

Opacity Control

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.

Gently build up Opacity or cover underlying paint with Fluid Paint

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.)

An apple painted entirely with the default Fluid Paint categories

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.

Selecting areas of color or objects is now as easy as painting with a brush

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 on Corel’s Painter Tutorials channel 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.

I can create a lot of detail with just a Fluid Paint brush or two

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.

Is it a worthy upgrade? I’ll let you decide. You can download the free 30 day trial of Painter and experience it for yourself.

Outro

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.

Learn Corel Painter 2023 with my video training course


Don’t have Corel Painter 2023? You can save $100 off the full version with my coupon code PTRAR at checkout on painterartist.com

Save $100 with Coupon Code: PTRAR

Watch Corel Painter tutorials on my YouTube channel

Watch my video review of the top new features in Painter 2023