Corel Painter is a raster-based application for digital painting, drawing, and printmaking. It is intended to be used in real-time by digital artists and offers a wide range of traditional artists’ materials and tools. With the aid of a graphics tablet or computer mouse, the user is able to reproduce the effect of physical painting and drawing media such as watercolor, oil, chalk, charcoal and color pencil. There are also a few non-traditional items, such as the Image Hose, pattern pens, F/X, Distortion and other tools.
Painter emulates the visual characteristics of traditional media, such as oil paint, pastel sticks, air brush, charcoal, felt pens, and other materials on various textured surfaces. Many of these emulated media types work with the advanced features of Wacom tablets. For instance, the airbrush tool in Painter responds to pressure as well as tilt, velocity and rotation. Corel Painter is geared towards professional digital artists and costs 400$. However, a lighter version also exists for casual users called Corel Painter Essentials which costs 60$.
Let’s explore some free and open source Corel Painter alternatives which will let you bring out your artistic skills to life without spending any money. Although this article is primarily written for Corel Painter, same alternatives can be used for other commercial painting applications like Paint Tool Sai, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Manga Studio.
Krita is an open source raster graphics editor and digital painting application. It has been influenced to some extent by software like Corel Painter and SAI. However, Krita packs with some key features different than most of its kind, including the ability to work with both bitmap and vector illustration. The developers also tries to simplify user interaction and focus features more relevant to painting and drawing.
Krita has a highly customizable interface which lets users change Krita’s window color theme, customize icons shown in toolbars and relocate tool dockers. Keyboard shortcuts can be edited as well. It allows user to save a given set of dockers as a workspace and switch between them. Some of the software’s notable features are: A large set of default brushes, Customisable brush presets, Multiple brush engines, Pressure sensitivity, Filters with real-time preview and lot more. A touch-screen optimized version also exists called Krita Gemini which is mainly designed for Windows 7 and 8 and uses “Modern UI” theme by Microsoft. It also provides a seamless switch between desktop/laptop mode and sketch mode for hybrid ultrabooks.
The latest version of Krita is 2.9,11.
MyPaint is a free and open-source raster graphics editor for digital painters. Its capabilities include Pressure-sensitive graphics tablet support, Dynamic brush library, Extensibility, Layer management, Simple interface, Gamut masking color wheel and “Unlimited” canvas.
MyPaint was used by David Revoy for preparing digital art for open source 3D animated movie Sintel developed by Blender Foundation. It uses Open Raster as its default format, but also supports saving images to PNG or JPEG. The software is licensed under GNU General Public License v2.
The latest version of MyPaint is 1.2.0.
Alchemy is a vector graphics drawing program that aims to facilitate creativity and idea development. It uses ‘experimental interaction’ such as voice to control how lines are drawn on screen, generating random shapes, and drawing with symmetry to create a quick face or body. Its drawing canvas has an intentionally reduced level of functionality. No undo, no selecting, and no editing. Interaction focuses instead on the output of a great number of good, bad, strange and beautiful shapes.
Modules are an essential aspect of the software and are divided into two categories: Create modules produce shapes, and Affect modules affect or change existing shapes. Although still in beta phase,the software is stable enough and has many usable features.
The latest version of Alchemy is Beta 008.
Its features include: Shared canvas using the built-in server or a dedicated server, Drawing sessions recording & playback, Export recordings, Layers and blending modes, Text layers, Supports pressure sensitive Wacom tablets, Built-in chat, OpenRaster file format support.
The latest version of Drawpile is 1.0.2.
5) SpeedyPainter (Bonus)
Speedy Painter is an lightweight OpenGL based digital painting software. As the name suggests, it focuses on speed and has a simple and modern looking interface. A simple and clear documentation is also provided on its website. It supports Wacom digital tablets to vary size and opacity of brush strokes according to pen pressure.
Some of its features are reference view that follows canvas movements, exporting drawing process to video, multiple layers, import/export drawing process, common image formats support, canvas rotation & flip, selection mask, brush library and others.
The latest version of SpeedyPainter is 3.4.3.
6) SmoothDraw (Bonus)
SmoothDraw is an easy natural painting and digital free-hand drawing software that can produce high quality pictures. It support many kinds of brushes such as pen, pencil, dry media, airbrush, bristle brush, image hose and more. Other features include retouch tools, layers and more.
The software is more focused on drawing skills rather than software tools. It provides lot of drawing and editing tools with a simple non-distracting interface.
The latest version of SmoothDraw is 4.1.3 Beta.
7) FotoSketcher (Bonus)
FotoSketcher is a freeware program which let users convert their digital photos into art with just a few clicks. It contains over 20 different styles such as pencil sketches, watercolor, oil paintings, pen & ink drawings and cartoons.
Besides converting photos into art, it also allows users to improve their original photos with simple tools like enhance contrast, sharpen, simplify image, increase luminosity, color saturation and more. FotoSketcher is completely free even for commercial use and does not contain any adware, spyware or virus.
The latest version of FotoSketcher is 3.20.
8) SketchPort (Bonus)
SketchPort is a modern environment for digital drawing. Its an online app which lets you draw right in your browser. Its main purpose is to allow everybody to freely create digital art with easy to use tools. It also provides users with games, challenges, inspirations, chat and more. As a whole SketchPort provides a community for artists to communicate by creating digital art.
SketchPort is a vector based drawing application. It allows users to draw freehand drawings in vector form without any pixelation. It also provides inspirations to introduce you to new subjects and challenges to provide boundaries that let you focus your creativity in a specific direction, allowing focus and concentration.