Corel: Painter 8 due in May, procreate brand nixed

Corel Painter 8 will be released by Corel Corp. in early May. The next version of the application that offers advanced natural-media painting and image editing capabilities will offer new mixing, brush, and sketching features, as well as a tweaked interface.

Compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar") and higher and Mac OS 9.2.2, the update will offer over 400 new brushes for more than 30 mediums. You'll be able to interactively blend paint colors using the new Mixer and design custom brushes with the Brush Creator.

The new Sketch Effect lets you convert photographs to pencil drawings and offers control over the amount of paper grain, heaviness of the pencil line, and the level of detail. Also new is a Digital Water Color for hand painting line drawings, touching up photographs, and creating water color washes. Then there's the Tracker palette, which keeps track of your most recently used brushes.

Painter 8's interface provides easier access to tools, and makes it easier to choose brushes. You can open and save Adobe Photoshop files, as Painter 8 beefs up its support for opening and saving Photoshop files, including layer sets, layer masks, and channels. And the new version includes an Acquire from Adobe Illustrator feature that converts images created in Illustrator into Painter vector shapes.

The redesigned Layer Masks let you hide and reveal areas of a layer without making permanent changes. You can use alpha channels to create and store masks to modify, separate, and preserve specific areas of an image

Corel Painter 8 has a suggested retail price of US$299. Current users of Painter can upgrade to the new version for $149. A special academic version will be available for $99. There will also be special upgrade pricing for users of Painter Classic, Photoshop, and other illustration packages. See the Painter 8 Web site for details.

With Painter 8 being sold under the Corel brand, what's happened to procreate, Corel's branding for its products targeted to creative professionals? According to a note on the Corel Web site, "procreate was a great way for Corel to re-energize its image in the creative professional space" that "created exceptional awareness of our products and our capabilities as design software experts, specifically in the Mac community." However, the company will be "capitalizing on the Corel brand going forward." Corel noted that procreate products KPT and KnockOut 2 will be rebranded as Corel products going forward. A representative for Corel was not immediately available for comment.

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