View Full Version : Painter or Photoshop for a beginner?

01 January 2007, 07:39 PM
Yup, how the topic says. What do YOU recommend for a beginner like me?

01 January 2007, 02:20 AM
For a beginner? Neither. I recommend Artrage:

For a minimal investment, compared to hundreds of dollars in software....a clean and easy to master interface...and the fact that using it instead of all the training wheels, shmaltzy filters,tweaks, and make believe "fx" tools" in the others will make you a better painter in the long run.

I'm assuming your interest is in painting, as Painter is one of the choices...if youre looking for general purpose image editing and manipulation, or just want something that can "do it all", definitely photoshop. If your focus is primarily painting (you know, with brushstrokes and natural media simulation), Start in AR, then pick up Painter if you feel the need for the broader toolset.

01 January 2007, 08:43 AM
Sorry my mistake. I meant with beginner in the early stage of digital painting/drawing - not at all a beginner to the software itselfs :) Thanks though

01 January 2007, 10:17 PM
The answer is the same. Some one in the early stages of basic digital painting/drawing needs to focus on the universal basics of painting/drawing, same as someone starting off drawing/ painting in traditional media. A 300$ software package wont make you any better, but learning to rely on digital smudging, smaltzy filters, global color correction instead of applying new color, and unrestrained soft/air brushing will make you worse.

Artrage. Negligeable initial investment, accesible, and a (comparitively) honest approximation of the drawing table.

Beyond that Id always recommend Painter over Pshop for well...Painting, though Pshop is much more useful to have around in a general sense. But if youve got good technique, it doesnt matter what you use.

01 January 2007, 10:34 PM
Hmm never thought about that in this case, thanks. Since my tablet doesn't work really that way I want in ps I used painter for some beginning sketches of an apple and banana. I enjoyd a few things in painter like the rotating canvas, the undo's but there are just to many brushes for a beginner like me :( Also the brush settings is a horrible interface, the reason I like ps more). For that reason I bought the introduction to painter from ryan church to get more into painter. I guess a mix of both would be the best but not for a beginner.

I noticed that I don't like to paint on paper like I do digitally - thats strange for any reason.

Thanks a lot guys.

01 January 2007, 11:55 PM
i choose painter in the poll...because the way you put color on the canvas in that software seems more predictable and natural than in Ps at least to me...and i just love the blender brushes....granted brush settings are complex and there's a lot of them...
there the ryan church dvd will help you, narrow it down to a few brushes...

one thing i like to do in painter is opening a big white canvas, and trying all the brushes...
you will realize that you will like only a few of put them in a custom palette so there are always at one click and you start painting...

photoshop is just as great.... as are Artrage, Artweaver, Project Doggwaffle, Gimp, long you can take a round brush, sensitive to pressure, and put color on a canvas, you have all you need :bounce:

01 January 2007, 12:16 AM
the way you put color on the canvas in that software seems more predictable and natural than in Ps at least to me

I disagree. I get strange color shifts in Painter from time to time; Photoshop's very simple application of color is easier for me to control. But to each his own! I envy you for finding Painter's color application "predictable." :)

01 January 2007, 02:52 AM
Artrage. Negligeable initial investment, accesible, and a (comparitively) honest approximation of the drawing table.

I tried Artrage, but I wasn't impressed; the pencil strokes look very artificial and once you compare the brush engine settings in Artrage with the ones in Painter you'll get an idea why that is. Mind you, I'm not sharing here an opinion about painting in Artrage, just drawing, since that is the word you used in your comment. As for what I use? I prefer Painter for drawing, for everything else I prefer Photoshop.

01 January 2007, 06:10 AM
Not wanting to degenerate into a vs. thread (even though thats what its set up as), but I couldnt disagree more, on this point. The out-of-the-box pencils in AR look and feel very much like pencils on paper. The default Painter pencils look and feel wonky...still useful drawing tools, just not...pencils. Painter though, allows for any amount of tweaking to the tools to get the desired result, which is great for more advanced users.

Thats not the point. I wouldnt tell any beginner digi painter to pick up a 300$ program. Id tell them to pick up some thing effective and accesible, with minimal investment, and minimal digital hackery ...and learn how to handle a tablet and how to be an artist first (preferably with a bunch of *real* sketchbooks as well). I think AR best meets that description( with the exception of that inexplicable "glitter" tool). Theres so much garbage in both Painter and Photoshop....a godsend for graphic designers and texture painters on a deadline, but poision to a learning artist.

I own all three programs, prefer Painter for Painting, find Photoshop invaluable in a general sense, but I will stay in Artrage as long as I can anymore, until I think I really need the broader toolset in Painter for some of the "tricksier" tools. Once Im there though, painter feels ugly , bloated and sluggish these days (Im one of the minority of people that doesnt seem to think the continued "adobefication" of the interface with the unending lists of redundant tools is a good thing). AR by contrast is satisfying, focused and nimble, and forces me to actually "paint", which in turn makes me a better painter. I look forward to the day when further development lets me feel confident working entirely in that program for paintings.

Anyways, just personal opinions. In the end it all comes down to preference. All such programs have demos or reduced functionality free versions. Try them out, see what works best for you. Just keep in mind that different natural media simulation tools aside (for instance oil sims vs watercolor sims)...from a finished image quality standpoint, if you really feel you cant make something look good enough in a free or inexpensive 2d program without the benefit of an expensive paint program's toolset, youve probalby uncovered a weakeness in your technique rather than a weakness in the program. You should seek to address that first before looking for digital crutches.

01 January 2007, 07:16 AM
Thank you Scott. I will have a look into AR to get my own personal opinion. So you think before I learn to paint digitally I should learn to paint with pencil and paper?

01 January 2007, 08:13 AM
Well, as this is a CG-centric site, a lot of folks around here will tend to say all things are equal and all that matters is the finished product. This is one point of view.

But if you really are a beginner artist, digitial or otherwise, you should be worrying about fundamentals and improving as an artist. Towards these ends, regular practice with a pencil and paper, drawing from life, and a cheap 15 $ set of watercolors without the benefit of a Ctrl-Z function will get you much further along than any professional grade, high cost 2D paint application. A $300-700 program plus a 400$ tablet will not allow someone who cant draw or paint worth anything on paper to magically be able to do so digitally...although some software can inhibit the development of the skills you need to do so. And you should probably have a good idea it really is something you have a feel for, and want to pursue before dropping that kind of money.

For an established traditional artist with sound technique, looking to branch into Digital media, I would still probably recommend AR as a starter along with a new wacom, just for the fact its intuitive and focused, with probably as faithful of an approximation as you can get out there, at the things that it does. And at the price that it is, it isnt a major commitment, especially if youre not looking to work professionally. Once you feel the need to expand (if you ever do), you can start looking into the broader professional applications which you know youll be able to put to good use.

But a skilled artist with good technique will do great work with any application they use, and much better work than a poor artist with much more expensive software. So its just a question of what "feels" better to them. For my money, the AR feel and interface craps all over either Pshop or Painter from a painters perspective, and if youre like me youll find yourself just wishing for a tad more Painter like functionality in AR, rather than wanting to drop any more money on Painter upgrades.

Start small and cheap, practice every day, and work your way up.

01 January 2007, 08:16 AM
You partly misunderstood my post Scott. You are now comparing products when it comes to price, interface, speed or whatever other comparison. I never made these comparisons and I have no need for that. I repeat again that the intention of my post is to disagree with the drawing strengths of Artrage, nothing more, nothing less. Iím not comparing full products here, Iím comparing a feature.

When it comes to drawing, with a pencil that is, Artrage doesnít convince me. I agree with you that neither does Photoshop and neither does Painter with the default pencils. However I donít think anyone with a good experience with all three products will call it a personal opinion when I say that the Painter engine offers a lot more for accurate drawing than the Artrage engine, which is basically based on pressure, softness, tilt angle and paper texture (for pencils that is).

Now in itself there is nothing wrong with that, after all weíre all different artists with different needs, but if someone has serious intentions to replicate drawing with pencils, then Artrage doesnít score well in my opinion.

I give you one example. In the attached image I drew a few times with my tabletís pen in the same area to darken it. Notice the white dots? There is no way (as far as I know) to get rid of this other then smudging or other cheap drawing methods, so you end up with a fairly artificial result. Painter however allows you to add a natural randomness to any pencil stroke that avoids problems like these.

Also by making adjustments to existing pencils in Painter itís possible to come very close to a natural pencil stroke, including its texture and random thickness. I havenít been able to achieve the same results in Artrage. When you look at a pencil line in Artage (you can even see it in my image) youíll notice for example the static thickness of the lines. The only thickness you see is the results of pen pressure, but there is more needed than just pen pressure to create the randomness of a pencil line. Only by comparing a real pencil line with an Artrage pencil line youíll understand the difference.

Again, Iím not comparing complete products here, just a single feature. Artrage is a great product (also the reason why I bought it), but I donít think itís the best product for pencil drawings. Again, if some people donít need that kind of perfection, thatís fine with me, but I think that for those who do care itís important to mention the limitation.

01 January 2007, 08:00 PM
Now after upadating to the latest wacom drivers the pen pressure works well in photoshop so I guess I stick to this although I prefer the painter colorwheel a bit more :) Is there a way to give photoshop the possibilities to do more than only 1 undo?

01 January 2007, 10:57 PM
Is there a way to give photoshop the possibilities to do more than only 1 undo?
don't use the undo, use the history (ctrl+alt+z and ctrl+shift+z)

01 January 2007, 12:39 AM
Without having read all the other answers here, I'd say if you want to paint and draw, then go for Painter.

I won't recommend any other software for that, not even the Painter Essentials which is a light version of the real Painter.

If painting and drawing is your main interest, go for Painter.

If you're also interested in photo, then go for PhotoShop.

Painter is less expensive though .... AND you can do some photo work in Painter although it is not as good as PhotoShop.

01 January 2007, 12:41 AM
Let me just say that if you had posted your poll in the Painter section, I'm sure you would have had many more votes for Painter ....

01 January 2007, 02:54 AM
I am refraining from voting but here are my views.


01 January 2007, 05:52 AM
While well-intentioned, I think the originbal question is like asking "what's better: chocolate or vanilla"? Everyone has their own ideas about what is best.

Like learning to paint with conventional tools, learning to paint digitally is largely about trying things out to see how they work for you personally. Some artists swear by acrylics. Others only use guache. I think the various programs are a lot like that. They can all get you somewhere, but whether or not it is a tool that fits your own style, sensibilties and technical abilities is something that only you the artist can decide. But the main thing is: dig in ! Good luck.

And for the record, the answer is "chocolate".

01 January 2007, 08:34 AM
Thanks all. The poll was more intended on the technical side of those applications. I tried to clarify for other beginners with which app you get a "easier" start of painting/drawing. I know that those are just tools - for people who already can paint :P

I got a better flow as beginner in painter than photoshop even the brushes are really complex but I work almost 7 years with photoshop so I stick to this I guess. Lets see if I can make some progress on my drawing skill and I can use painter too :bounce:

01 January 2007, 05:53 AM
sorry im new to ps. what version of ps is used for painting and such. On the main website their are many versions like cs3 and such. I thought the ps similar to painter was ps 7.

sorry for stupid ?

01 January 2007, 01:04 PM
I think Painter is more fun, and Photoshop is more stable. Occasionally Painter loses files, so I usually duplicate an image in Photoshop before I let it into Painter. The .riff format seems a little unreliable, so I use bitmaps (.bmp) to pass back and forth. However, I'm using a Windows machine--I have heard that Painter is more fluid and stable on the Mac. As a Windows user, I have never crashed Photoshop and I find the brushes adequate if not inspired--I'm using PS7.
I feel like I have more control in Photoshop,I like the adjustment layers, and if the file is for a client I will do all the prepress in Photoshop. So it depends on what you plan to do with the finished art. For "fine art" digital painting, (or making textures for 3d) I'd say Painter. For tea box labels and bookcovers, I like Photoshop.
I really like having them both, to be honest. And you gotta have a tablet, even if it's a cheap one.

01 January 2007, 04:46 PM
Actually funny thing Ps has crashed more times than Painter with me (Windows)...mainly when using custom brushes...
Painter 8 was buggy but this IX.5 seems really stable...i cant wait to see the X version....

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