25 September, 2018


Having invested in a Surface Pro 5 (Microsoft have actually ditched the numbering system and just called this model the Surface Pro), it was only right that I should look for a more powerful painting package than ArtRage 5. Why, I don't know, because I'm no professional, LOL.  I could probably spend the next 10 years using ArtRage and never even come close to understanding or using all of its features! Anyway, I like new software and so I examined all the options and ended up getting Corel Painter 2019 which has just been released.

The Surface Pro is a powerful tablet/laptop running Windows 10. I opted for the Intel i5 processor with 8gb ram and 256gb storage. I would have gone for the i7 processor but that model comes with a fan built into the tablet and that really didn't appeal to me at all.

As far as I'm concerned, an Intel i5 CPU is more than capable for the sort of stuff that I do on a PC. And besides, the i7 starts getting incredibly expensive, especially when you upgrade the ram and storage! At the end of the day, I have to remember that this is a hobby. Well actually, it's a tool to help out with two hobbies - painting and photography!

After using an iPad Pro 12.9,  the SP5 takes some getting used to. In the beginning, I started to get a little frustrated because it wasn't working as intuitively as the iPad, but then I realised that without the keyboard attached to the device, I needed to switch from Desktop Mode to Tablet Mode. Kinda dumb really, because it should change modes automatically as far as I'm concerned as soon as it detects that you've removed the keyboard! Ah well, maybe there's a way to activate that option and I've just not found it yet.

The BIGGEST advantage that the SP5 has over the iPad Pro is the filing system of Windows. You can create directories whenever and wherever you want on a PC and that is incredibly helpful (and normal)! The iPad on the other hand is incredibly awkward in terms of storing files away. Apple won't give you the freedom of creating folders willy nilly and I found it ever so troublesome understanding where various files were physically stored on the device. Grrrr. That's one of the biggest reasons I bought the SP5 and gave my iPad to the Mrs.

I could, of course, have used my laptop, but that means using a separate drawing tablet like the Wacom Intuos Pro, which I find gives you a very "detached" drawing experience. No, I had to be able to draw directly onto a screen.

The SP5 has a screen ratio of around 3:2 instead of the iPad's 4:3 and at first I though this was a negative feature but in reality it means that the over-wide screen lets you comfortably place toolboxes to the left or right of your image. The screen does feel a bit on the small size after using the gigantic 12.9 inch iPad, but you soon become accustomed to the small size.

So, down to the software. ArtRage is an excellent piece of kit (see earlier review) but after seeing lots of online videos showboating the all singing, all dancing Painter 2019, it seemed like it was the only way forward. After all, if you're going to invest a lot of your precious leisure time learning how to use a piece of software, I guess it makes sense to invest your time in a professional program.

Painter 2019 initially looks pretty daunting and normally I'd steer well clear of such software, but the truth is, it has amazing colour mixing abilities which really do mimick the actions of real paint. Their Thick Paint brushes are just unbelievable! Needless to say, everything is in the wrong place and difficult to understand after a couple of years on ArtRage, but I'm slowly getting my head around the basics.

I remember when I first downloaded the free ArtRage app and recall how God-Damned awful my first attempts were. Well it's the same with Painter. I need to keep on going until I become comfortable with it.

I very much look forward to learning and creating some images worthy of printing.

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Our Own Art-Club!

Each Friday we go to the local Art-Club in Horwich. It's a thriving club with a broad range of people of all ages and skill-levels. Apart from the regular painting sessions, we have many professional artists visiting us to demonstrate their skills and to run workshops.

But sometimes, it's nice when just a few friends get together mid-week too, and so here we are in Simon's "studio", benefitting from the skill and experience of his father, Brian Waddington. It looks a bit cramped in there, but we were just huddled together to fit in the photo frame :-)

And you can drink beer in this club! :-)