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Corel Painter Essential 5 Review (Windows/Mac) – A great application to get started with digital art.


Corel Painter Essential 5 Review In Few Words (Mini Review)

Corel Painter Essential 5 is a great program to create artworks, for artists who wants an affordable program to do that, but at the same time doesn’t need the full power of Corel Painter. So it can provide a great alternative to it.

One thing that is worth pointing out here is that before this version came out, Corel Painter Essential hasn’t been updated for years, as the version 4 has been there for so long now. It is nice to see that Corel is still committed to provide an alternative to their high-end painting program.

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Pros Of Corel Painter Essential 5

  • No need for subscription:- Buy Corel Painter Essential 5 once, and use it as much as you want.
  • Very affordable art program to create artworks.
  • Very fun to use.
  • Good program for those looking for a program to paint, but doesn’t need the full power of Corel Painter.

Cons Of Corel Painter Essential 5

    • Supports 64-bit systems only, so people with 32-bits operating systems can’t use it.

In this review, I will take you through a tour of what Corel Painter Essential 5 can do, and show you what new features are there in the new version, and a few other things. From the moment you open Corel Painter Essential 5 for the first time, until how you can learn about it.

Getting Started With Corel Painter Essential 5

After you install Corel Painter Essential 5, and once you open it, you will face the following welcome screen:-

Welcome Screen

The welcome screen allows you to choose between the following 4 actions:-

    • Create a new artwork from scratch:- this is where you do digital painting, it creates and empty document to start creating your artwork.
    • Create a new photo art:- This is one of the funniest to use features in Corel Painter Essential 5, with Photo Art, you can turn any picture into a painting, either automatically or by painting using different brushes.
    • Open a file you worked on before:- or choose one of the recently opened files.
    • Share & Learn:- Learn how to use Corel Painter Essential 5, or share your artworks on Corel Painter’s page on Facebook.

Since the last two options are self-explanatory, we will only take a more detailed look at the first two

Photo Art

Photo Art

Fun Art Steps

Photo Art is a very easy way to create painting like pictures, all you have to do is to choose the photo you want to paint, either from file, or the one you are currently working on. After that, you have two choices:-

Auto-Paint:- Let Corel Painter Essential 5 do the painting for you, you only have to choose the type of painting you want to make, like Detailed Painting or Oil Painting, or even Pastel Drawing, then click the Start button in the “Photo Painting” panel, and wait until Corel Painter Essential 5 finish creating the painting.

Here is an oil painting with Auto Paint:-


After the Fun Art painting is created, you can tweak the drawing after that, using a cloner brush or any other tool you want.

Create the painting yourself:- Which allows you to select which parts of the picture that are painted, and to paint the picture using different brushes instead of just one type (like in case with Auto Paint).

Here is the cat picture after I made it using the Cloner Spray brush, notice how I drew a good amount of details from the cat itself, while mostly leaving everything else out:-


The User Interface


I left the user Interface to this point because I wanted to focus on what you will first see in Corel Painter Essential 5’s welcome screen. Whether you chose to do with that screen. You will end up working with the user interface eventually. Which will look similar to this the first time you open the program:-

Corel Painter Essential User Interface

If you are familiar with any other drawing application, even one like Microsoft Paint, you will be able to recognize some of the tools panel, colors selector, layers, and maybe some other things, depending on the programs you used before. Anyone who used the bigger version of Painter will find themselves in a familiar place.

While the workspace is relatively simple compared to some of the bigger programs, it will take some time getting used to. But once that happen you will find yourself working very easily with it.

Additional Workspaces

Corel Painter Essential 5 comes with some pre-made arrangements for the palettes, which tries to make it easier to use the program in cases like you are working from a laptop. A tablet PC like Microsoft Surface Pro.

Tons Of Brushes

Brushes Panel And Categories

Corel Painter Essential 5 has many brushes for you to use out of the box. The brushes are divided into 12 categories. Including the new particles category. Which contains 6 new brushes, like the Flow Fur brush below:-

Fur Brush

In total, this new version of Painter Essential introduces 31 new brush. Which mean there are total of 126 brushes for you to choose from. Trying out different brushes is part of the fun of using Painter, but to show you a few here are some of what these brushes can do:-

Corel Painter Essential Brushes

Since this version of Painter is made to be limited, you can’t create or customize your brushes that much. Which mean over the long-term, and depending on your needs, you may want to upgrade to the bigger Painter, though for many artists, Corel Painter Essential 5 is more than enough even for long-term usage.

Paper Support

Just like Corel Painter, Corel Painter Essential 5 supports paper texture. a feature that emulate the way different kinds of paper have different texture in traditional media. Which makes it possible to obtain different results based on the type of paper texture used.

Here are two different filled areas, each area has a different paper texture. The areas have been resized to make the textures easier to see:-


The Magic Of Color Blending

Just like with traditional media, Corel Painter Essential 5 allows you to blend two colors together, here is how I painted some yellow water color over blue, which produced green, and as you can see with the second picture. You can completely cover the blue with yellow by painting more on the top of it.

Colors Blending

New Feature:- Mirror Painting

Now with Corel Painter Essential 5, you can create mirrored artworks, which is useful for drawing symmetrical objects like chair or building. When the mirror mode is activated, the canvas get divided by a green line, and everything you paint on one side of the canvas, a mirrored stroke will appear. I managed to create the following mirrored simple drawing this way:-


You can change the center point too when the tool is selected, which mean there would be an empty space at the side of the canvas:-

Mirror Mode Not Centered

How To Turn Off Mirror Painting?

Unfortunately, turning this feature is not that straightforward. To do that, switch to the mirror tool, then simply uncheck the “Mirror When Painting” while the Mirror Tool is selected, then switch to the other tool you want to use next.

New Feature:- Kaleidoscope Painting

Kaleidoscope Painting is similar to mirror painting, but instead of mirroring the image over 2 parts, it is done on more parts, and every time you draw on one of these parts, a mirrored stroke appears automatically on the other segments. This is not very easy to explain with words, but it is easy to know what I mean by looking at this Kaleidoscope painting I created:-


Just like the case with Mirror painting, you can change the center point of the segments to suit your different needs. And unlike Mirror painting, you can change the number of segments based on what kind of Kaleidoscopic painting you want to draw. Here is how I did it using 6 segments:-



Of course, all the drawing above are nothing compared to what you can do if you used these tools creatively. For one, see Kaleidoscope painting in action here for a good example of it:-

You can turn off Kaleidoscope Painting the same way you turn off Mirror Painting.

Graphics Tablet Recommended

Ugee M708 Graphics Drawing Tablet-2


To draw & create artworks, either if you decided to use Corel Painter Essential 5 or any other art program, I highly recommend that you get a graphics tablet, as using one is closer to how you draw using pencils or brushes, compared to a computer mouse at least, except that you will be looking at the screen while you draw. Graphics tablets can also be a huge productivity boost for creating artworks, and it can make drawing certain lines easier. And more importantly, it is generally more healthy & comfortable than using a mouse.

In case you already own a graphics tablet, I will talk about how Corel Painter Essential 5 do when it comes to these devices :D

Pressure Sensitivity & Wacom Graphics Tablets

Corel Painter Essential 5 supports pressure sensitivity of graphics tablets just fine. In case you don’t know what pressure sensitivity is, it is a feature in graphics tablets that allows you to get a thicker or thinner lines based on how much you press the pen on the tablet surface. This aims to emulate how traditional pencils work. And besides being able to vary the thickness or your lines, some programs allows you to use pressure to affect other things, like the brush opacity.

Pressure Sensitivity Strokes
Creating Lines With Different Thickness with graphics tablet pressure sensitivity

I tested Corel Painter Essential 5 with my large Wacom Intuos Pro tablet, and it worked pretty well when it comes to both the pressure & the title sensitivity.

Now I mentioned tilt sensitivity, it is time to explain it a little bit, it is a feature in some graphics tablets that detects how tilted the pen is, and it can also be used to create different kinds of lines. Each brush in Painter essential has a tilt indicator, which shows you how the pen is tilted without having you look on the styles. Here is how the tilt indicator looked like in two situations:-

Tilt Sensitivity

Based on my research, Corel Painter Essential 5 also works well with graphics tablets from other manufacturers, like Huion too.

How Easy Is It To Learn Corel Painter Essential 5?

Corel Painter Essential 5 may seem a little bit confusing to you at first, that’s especially the case if you didn’t use an art application similar to it before. But let me assure you, Painter Essential is not really hard to use, you just require some guiding along the way, as well as spend some time trying out different things with it afterwards.

Supports 64-Bits Only

if you have an old computer that doesn’t support a 32-bit operating system, then you won’t be able to run Corel Painter Essential 5 on it. As it supports 64-bit systems only.

If you use Windows, to know if your computer runs a 64-bit version of Windows, check system properties. To that, on your desktop, right click on Computer, then select Properties from the main menu. And then you will find your operating system type along with your other system information:-

32 64 Bits System

Corel Painter Essential 5 System Requirements

System Requirements For Windows

  • Windows 8.1 (64-Bit), or Windows 7 (64-Bit) (with latest Service Pack).
  • Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 or AMD Opteron.
  • 2 GB RAM.
  • 650 MB hard disk space for application files*.
  • Mouse or graphics tablet.
  • 1024 x 768 screen resolution.
  • DVD drive.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 or higher* Additional space may be required for Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.

System Requirements For Mac

  • Mac OS X 10.9 or 10.10 (with latest revision).
  • Intel Core 2 Duo.
  • 2 GB RAM.
  • 500 MB hard disk space for application files.
  • Mouse or graphics tablet.
  • 1024 x 768 screen resolution.
  • DVD drive.
  • Safari v5 or higher.

And Finally

Corel Painter Essential 5 can be a good application to start working on digital art, or to create artworks similar to the traditional ones. It is affordable and can be used by both professionals & amateurs alike. So I totally recommend you try it out


I hope you liked my Corel Painter Essential 5 review, and see you again in another review. ^^

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I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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