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Painter 3

by Dunc Petrie

Several years ago, Fractal Design (since absorbed by MetaCreations, of Kai Power Tools fame) introduced a paint program that provided not only novel creative capabilities but also distinctive packaging - a gallon paint can. Painter has evolved (currently, it is version 5.5) and remains a unique, high-end program with creative options that are unmatched by any other products. 

While there are many paint programs (or pixel editor - don't confuse these with a vector, or "draw" program like CorelDraw), few offer the range of artistic options-media textures (for example, canvas and paper: the latter with definable grain and grain-direction), media (for example, pencils, chalk, watercolours, oil, gouache, and more), an unlimited array of brushes (also user-definable), artistic rendering (for example, Van Gogh, impressionist) - that are included in Painter. Until recently, Painter's Image Hose was unique; however, equivalents are now available as Corel's Photo-Paint Image Sprayer or Paint Shop Pro's Picture Tubes. 

For those who desire programs that support their artistic endeavours but don't want to spend the "big bucks" that are usually demanded, here is an appealing alternative. Yes, there are shareware paint programs; however, most have feature-sets that are deficient compared to Painter 3. Assuming that you register (that is, pay), any of these products-regardless of the breadth and depth of their feature sets-will be more expensive. The leading contender, Paint Shop Pro, version 5, previously the leading shareware product in this category, has become a commercial product. While there is a free, trial version on their web-site, I believe that it will time-expire. 

Instead, for the sum of 18-20 dollars (Canadian!), purchase a copy of the British magazine PC Format. Included on the CD-ROM is a full version of Painter 3 that will not time- expire and has the full feature set; nothing is disabled! In its prime, this program cost about $500 Canadian. You even get a 125 page user's guide (an Adobe Acrobat, PDF document, in colour) and several tutorials. 

As an aside, third-party texts are available as residuals. I found Painter 3 Complete, by Karen Sperling (ISBN 1-55828- 459-1), for $4.99 at a local retailer - my local Shoppers Drug Mart.

Bottom Line:

Version 3
Included (CD-ROM) with purchase of PC Format magazine ($20)

Originally published: November, 1999

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