Review: Corel does everything right with Painter 2021

Jun 29, 2020 at 10:00 am by Barbara Din

Review: Corel Painter 2021

In my previous review of Corel Painter, version 2020, I mentioned how much I appreciated the focus on performance improvement, since all the bells and whistles in the world don't mean a thing if you can't use them because your system becomes too laggy when you try them.

This year's version of Corel Painter comes full with exciting new features and important enhancements. Let's take a look!

Performance Optimizations

This time they promised even more optimizations to performance, offering a more intuitive Brush Accelerator that analyzes and applies optimal Painter settings based on your specific hardware and graphics card. And now it comes with twice as many GPU-accelerated stamp brushes, up to four times faster drip and liquid brush technologies, and quicker brush and tool switching.

And it shows. My system hasn't changed since my last review and, even when the 2020 version was miles better than the previous ones, this one is even better. I noticed a real improvement in brush stroke speeds and liquid brushes are a breeze. One of the things I wanted the most out of Painter was a quicker brush and tool switching, and here I have to say… what a difference! Now I can say I feel completely comfortable with my workflow, knowing it won't be interrupted. 

Thick Paint

There are some nice new features in Thick Paint. There's the new Thick Paint-compatible brush category, enhanced Thick Paint brushes. You can now also lift the canvas layer or an existing default layer to a Thick Paint layer, which gives you new ways to combine types of paints.

New AI Based Art Styles

Painter 2021 comes with innovative AI with 12 artistic styles to choose from. With controls for almost every element including strength, detail, color matching, and smoothing. Then you can add fine details with the brush of your choice or auto-painting to create a hand-painted look very quickly.

I've tried and tweaked several pictures with different styles, and they are a good starting point for some stylistic renderings that would otherwise take a lot longer. It pays to take a little time getting familiar with the different parameters and what they do. If you find a particular combination you like, you can also save it as a preset, so you can reapply it to all the images you want at any time. 

Clone tinting

With the new Clone Tinting feature, you can dynamically select the colors of your choice as you paint from your source image. It also works with multi-point cloning, allowing you to create new compositions from existing artwork. There's also a new Clone Tinting brush category.

This is a very interesting addition that could easily be underrated. But trying this, I can really see the endless possibilities for changing artwork and/or retouch photographs in new and exciting ways. You have a level of control and ease with the new Clone Tinting brushes that will make recoloring a fun breeze.

Layer Control enhancements

Now you can choose to paint on any layer type and hide the canvas directly from the New Image dialog. A great addition is that you can now easily identify which brushes are compatible with various layer types including Liquid Ink, Thick Paint, and Watercolor with new visual indicators for each Brush. This helps a lot to optimize your workflow!

Enhanced Mac Support

Something I need to mention, although I can't test it (I'm on a PC) is that Mac users can now harness the power of Sidecar on macOS Catalina to mirror their screen on an iPad and paint using the Apple Pencil with new tilt support. On MacBook Pro and iPad, increase efficiency with new support for the context-sensitive Touch Bar and multi-touch Trackpad on MacBook Pro.

Pricing and Availability

Now Painter goes both ways: subscription based or perpetual license. I think that's a great idea, offering both options lets users choose what fits them best.

Painter 2021 is available in English, German, French, Japanese, and Traditional Chinese. For the first time, Corel is offering Painter as an annual subscription, giving customers the confidence of knowing they have access to the newest features and updates as soon as they are released. This affordable option is available for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $199 USD / € 225 / £159 annually and includes access to free brush pack releases. For customers who prefer to purchase a perpetual license, the full software is available at the SRP of $429 USD / € 424.95 / £359.99 and registered owners of any previous version can purchase the upgrade for $229 USD / €218.95 / £179.99 SRP. GBP and European prices include VAT.

Get the free trial or purchase electronic download versions at


I think Corel has been doing everything right in the latest upgrades, including this one, focusing on workflow and performance optimization first, and always adding new ways to be creative with the most powerful, complete and versatile painting software on the market. If you want to get serious with digital painting or are trying to make your first strokes with ease, you cannot go wrong with Painter.

Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links:
Barbara Din YouTube Channel 

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience possible More Info
Got it!