ArtRage 4 reminds us that the creative process can be as fun as it was when you were a kid. Illustrator and concept artist Wojtek Fus reviews version 4 to bring us
Product: ArtRage 4
Company: Ambient Design
Easy to Use Interface
References & Tracing
Price: Mac & Windows - $49.90 US / iPad App - $4.99 US / iPhone App - $1.99 US
Release date: Available now
Star Rating: 5 / 5
In my opinion, ArtRage is a software like no other. It takes you back to the world and spirit of traditional media. And it does so exceptionally well. Let's take a closer look at Ambient Design's newest version of the app - ArtRage 4.
The first thing that I should point out is the price, which is extremely low for the software that you are getting. If you are looking for a way to start your journey with digital painting, ArtRage seems to be a real no-brainer. It may not be a replacement for Photoshop, but it gives you an idea about what the digital medium is, and it provides you with useful and unique tools that to create with.
The real forte of the whole ArtRage software series is the ability to realistically replicate traditional media tools. The experience reminds me of having a big empty canvas in front of me. It feels like you have endless possibilities. Only, you don't have to pay for the excessive amount of paint you will effortlessly put everywhere! You can play around with pencils, charcoals, crayons, watercolours, different kinds of pens, stickers, pastels... You can even spill some paint directly from the paint tube, if you like. All the tools simulate how real paint works; they dynamically react to the canvas you have chosen, creating proper textures and an organic feel.
This is how simple UI design looks like when you open up a fresh document in ArtRage
"ArtRage 4 is simply the best on the market right now in terms of realistic color mixing"
When it comes to color-blending there are not many applications you can compare ArtRage to. It's one of the best on the market right now in terms of realistic color-mixing. It provides you with all the happy accidents that you get from playing with real watercolors and oils. You will find it hard to get close to that in Photoshop
, and even in Corel Painter
; it's just as organic and convincing as mixing real paints.
Let's take an oil brush - if you are used to painting in Photoshop or Painter, you will probably miss the Opacity feature, but that's not because the creators forgot about it. The reason is simple: the real-life oil brush doesn't have opacity jitter, and neither does ArtRage. Yes, you can press it harder against the canvas so it creates a different size brushstroke... You can change the amount of bristles, so it looks ‘dryer' and let you see some already dried paint from underneath the stroke. This is just an example of how realistic ArtRage is aiming to be. And it does it so convincingly well.
The simplicity of the user interface is striking, too. It looks like the paint box you were taking to kindergarten. And that is a compliment! There is nothing between you and the tools. Simple, bold and beautiful. It's universal and that is its strongest point: you can get the hang of it as fast as a 10-year old would do.
‘Workbench' is a particularly interesting new feature introduced in the fourth version of Artrage. Activating it changes the UI into a very minimal and adjustable stripe with the most useful tools. The rest is canvas. I really missed that alternative in ArtRage 3...
The main feature of the ArtRage Software series - realistic color blending. It works dynamically with every tool!
A couple of new features added exclusively to ArtRage 4 are: symmetry painting, which I use to generate quick ideas and gradient fills - this was missing from the previous versions. These are as useful and effective as in Photoshop. What's also unique about ArtRage and worth mentioning is the way you can view references directly in the program, during the painting process. You can pin images to the canvas and move them around independently. It definitely makes the creative process easier and more intuitive.
"ArtRage 4 does its job extremely well - giving you all the fun of traditional media inside a well designed, easy to use and effective app"
ArtRage 4 may not be a replacement for Photoshop, but it may be for Corel Painter. It does its job extremely well, giving you all the fun of traditional media inside a well-designed, easy-to-use and effective app. It has everything a professional painter would look for, but is at the same time extremely easy for kids to just jump in and have fun.
Here is Workbench mode in action. Less panels, more canvas!
Moreover, it is an extremely stable software. I haven't experienced a single crash on a Mac or PC, even while working on a big canvas. If you are looking for a place to release your inner ArtRage, you should definitely try it out.
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To see more by Wojtek Fus, check out Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6