Which digital painting software to use

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section of paintingI've been delving into digital painting, and have come across some useful information while reading and talking to friends about the best software tools. I hadn't realised that Photoshop and Paintshop Pro are really only meant for photo editing, and are not so great for digital painting and drawing. I also spent a fair bit of time and effort trying to draw in Illustrator (see my previous blogs). Illustrator wasn't doing what I wanted either. I've tried scanning drawings and then using photo editing tools (see my previous posts) - also not very successful.

Here's what I found out.

Paint Tool SAI II gets good reviews but the documentation is in Japanese.

Corel Painter is highly recommended but a big learning curve.

Corel Painter Lite is recommended for people beginning digital painting, fine artists and students, because it doesn't have an overwhelming number of options and might actually have enough for your needs. There's a helpful review on About.com and another one on PC World.

Corel Painter and Painter Lite are compatible with Photoshop and Photoshop Essentials.

I also found a useful tip in Digital Painting for the Complete Beginner, by Carlyn Beccia:

Because CMYK is a smaller color space, you should always paint in RGB and only switch to CMYK when you are ready to pass your work off to an offset printer. Unfortunately, you cannot convert Painter files to CMYK. When you are ready to prepare your Painter files for press, save your files as .PSD and open them in Photoshop.

I already have Photoshop Essentials, and Painter Lite was only $19 (usually $69, and Painter is $199, usually $299 - until May 15) so I decided to try Painter Lite with Photoshop as needed for saving to CMYK. Now I just need a bigger Wacom tablet.

See my next post for my next big learning curve experience.