ArtRage 4.5: Coming Soon from Ambient Design
ArtRage is one of the more accessible art and painting programs I have had the privilege to review during my years as a graphics software evaluator. On August 11, Ambient Design is releasing ArtRage 4.5, a milestone revision to its fourth edition of the traditional media art software. It’s been a few years since I took a close look at ArtRage, so I was excited to get a sneak peek at the new 4.5 version ahead of its release next week.
ArtRage is affordably priced (US$49.90 for new users) and easier to learn than many of its competitors such as Corel Painter. ArtRage’s user interface presents itself as a series of floating palettes and pods, where the tools look just like their real-world counterparts. But underlying this are many powerful tools for advanced artists.
ArtRage is available for Windows and Mac OS X desktop computers, and there are separate iOS apps for the iPad and iPhone as well.
ArtRage Tools and Features
Not only do the tools in ArtRage look like their real-world counterparts, they behave like them, too. Wet paint mixes together, brushstrokes show bristle texture, and watercolor strokes bleed and blend realistically. In addition to the traditional media tools–like brushes, pencils, pens, airbrush, and palette knife–ArtRage also comes with a load of fun, “new-media” special effects tools. These include stickers, cloners, glitters, blobs, sprays, stencils, symmetry painting, and pattern and gradient fills.
ArtRage also offers tracing images, reference images, layers, blending modes, Wacom graphics tablet stylus support, and flexible import/export options for the most common file formats–including layered Photoshop PSD files.
One feature I love about ArtRage is the graceful way the user interface gets out of your way as you paint and draw on the canvas. As you start to move the cursor near any of the floating palettes or panels they simply disappear and then reappear as you move away from them. All the floating panels can be resized and moved around your workspace–even outside of the canvas, if desired. The new toolbox and workbench introduced in ArtRage 4 provide even more customization by allowing you to gather all the tools you wish to work with into one unified toolbar.
New in ArtRage 4.5
ArtRage 4.5 will be a free upgrade for all ArtRage 4 users and includes these new features:
- 64-bit engine which allows for speed improvements, larger canvas sizes, and more complex projects.
- Grid overlay
- Pencil Tilt (when used with a compatible stylus) for more realistic pencil strokes
- Improved font picker allows you to preview fonts as you browse
- Improved Text editing, mixing fonts in a text block
- Improved preset management
Windows XP holdovers should note that ArtRage 4.5 is not compatible with this older version of Windows OS, but the 4.0.6 version will remain available for XP users.
ArtRage has usually run a bit sluggish for me in the past, so the move over to 64-bit processing brings a welcome, noticeable performance boost. The new Grid tool offers many workflow improvements to aid with composition, alignment, lettering, and measurement. At times, some brushstrokes are a bit glitchy and unnatural-looking, but for the most part, ArtRage does a good job of mimicking traditional media.
New users to ArtRage can get up and running quickly with the detailed PDF user manual available from the help menu. There is also an active user community discussion forum, and a number of tutorials on the ArtRage website.
- Easy to learn
- Active user community
- Sometimes brushstrokes are glitchy
- Only allows you to keep one painting open at a time
My painting skills are a bit out of practice, so I will spare you from showing off my own work, but that’s not to say I don’t absolutely love to doodle away in ArtRage. I love ArtRage for free-flow doodling and creating photo-art, but it’s well-equipped for creating serious art as well. You never have to waste time searching around for tools and controls; it’s all right there laid out for you and very easy to pick up and start creating without a huge learning curve. Combine that with the super affordable price of less than $50, and you’ve no reason not to add ArtRage to your digital art arsenal. If you’re not convinced, give the ArtRage demo version a try.
ArtRage Screen Shots
Learn more at the ArtRage website.