Corel Painter 2016: sound-based brushes, better blending, speckles – and Painter as a Photoshop plugin (kinda)

This Corel Painter upgrade features new brushes and faster ways to work. And you can use Painter-esque brushes in Photoshop using the new ParticleShop plug-in.

Corel Painter 2016 is here and brings with it new features including sound-based brushes, dynamic speckles, new dab types, better blending and more.

There’s also a brand-new Photoshop plugin that lets you use a subset of Painter’s brushes from within Photoshop. ParticleShop gives you access to particle- and real media-based brushes from within Adobe’s tools, with many of the same controls as in Painter.

ParticleShop includes only 11 brushes, but you can buy 11 additional brush sets around themes from Fine Art and Hair to Dust and Debris for $29.99 (around £19) apiece.

ParticleShop costs $49.99 (around £32) and works in Photoshop CS5 or later, Lightroom 5 or later, or Photoshop Elements 13 or later.

Read on to see what’s new in Corel Painter 2016.

Corel Painter 2016: Sound-based brushes

The new Audio Expression feature is one that’s either a silly gimmick or a fun and useful tool – we’ll reserve judgement until we’ve tried it out. You can change a brush’s parameters based on an audio input – altering size, angle, tone and more depending on what’s being played.

You could use it to create staccato bursts in your strokes based on the heavy beats of or – perhaps more interestingly – control the effects of your brush stokes by singing to your computer.

Corel Painter 2016: Dynamic Sparkles

Dynamic Speckles is another way to try to make digital paintstrokes look more like the real thing.

Working with the Bristle, RealBristle or Particle Brushes, Dynamic Speckles creates your strokes from lots of little blobs of ‘paint’ that are drawn across your canvas by your brush – all created on the fly based on the characteristics of real mediums.

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Corel Painter 2016: New dab types

New dab types combine different ways that media is applied to the canvas, including Liquid Ink Gravity Particles, Liquid Ink Flow Particles, Liquid Ink Spring Particles, Watercolor Gravity Particles, Watercolor Flow Particles, and Watercolor Spring Particles.

Corel Painter 2016: Trying out the new brushes

To make it quicker to try out all of the new tools in Corel Painter 2016, there’s a New Brushes Palette Arrangements – so you can quickly experiment with new features like Dynamic Sparkles and Audio Expression.

Corel Painter 2016's new interface

Don’t like Corel Painter’s UI colour? In the 2016 version you can change the colour scheme to ‘dark’ (shown), ’sepia’ or ‘frost’.

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Photoshop brushes in Corel Painter 2016

If you’re currently painting in Photoshop, you can bring your brushes with you (to some degree). Corel Painter 2016 can import Photoshop’s ABR brush presets. Shape, texture, dynamics and other info is supports – but not all of the brush settings will be brought in.

Corel Painter 2016 hints and tips

Painter is a very complex application, so to make it easier to learn Corel has added context-sensitive hints and tips to many tools.

Hints provide in-depth information about brushes from a separate palette, while visual tooltips give you specific information about individual controls.

Corel Painter 2016: paper textures

You can alter the angle of the paper texture and flow maps as if you were rotating a real canvas.

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Blending in Corel Painter 2016

Corel Painter 2016 has improved blending controls for how strokes on different layers interact with each other – including how they bleed and overlay each other.

Corel Painter 2016 new tools

Other new features include a new Welcome Screen, a quick way to switch between document views, the ability to export all of your presets (including custom brushes) as a single Custom Toolbox file to share with others and across computers.

Image: detail from Flat Forever Forest (above) by Android Jones. Created in Corel Painter 2016

Image: City Hearts by Brian Pollett. Created in Corel Painter 2016

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Image: Moonlight Landscape by Karen Bonaker. Created in Corel Painter 2016 using the new Dynamic Sparkles feature