Company: Ambient Design LTD.
Price: Free or $20 for the full version
Back in my article “Macspiration – The Download Drawer – 2,” I suggested a free natural paint program called ArtRage by Ambient Design LTD. In January, ArtRage 2 was released as a free program along with a $20 version.
ArtRage 2 comes packed with features, too numerous to mention here. Some of these features are disabled in the free version. A comparison chart of the features in the free and pay versions can be found at www.ambientdesign.com/artragecompare.html.
As a natural paint program, ArtRage is fantastic. The markers look and act like markers, the paint looks and acts like paint (you even have to reload your brush), the chalk looks and acts like chalk, etc. When you paint a color over another color, the paints blend together and the brush continues with that new blend.
SIMPLE TO USE/RESPONSIVE
ArtRage 2 comes with a fantastic manual, and there is a free downloadable quick start guide available from the Ambient Design Website. For those who don’t like manuals, ArtRage 2 is easy to figure out, and you could be creating artwork right away without reading anything.
The first thing you notice when you start painting in ArtRage is how responsive the program is. The program does what you want it to do, when you want it to. There is no delay between the time you draw something on the screen and when it shows up on the screen. Even with my 533mhz G4 tower, it worked great.
SO MANY FEATURES
As I mentioned above, ArtRage 2 is packed with features, especially for a program that is $20 (or free). I am going to highlight a few of my favorites.
1. METALLICS: The full version of ArtRage 2 allows you to use any tool with metallic colors. At first I thought this was a cool extra for kids, until I started using it. WOW! This feature is fantastic! I have struggled in paint programs and drawing programs for years to get the perfect metallic look. This takes all of the work out, and does it for you.
2. TRACING: You can load any image into ArtRage 2 for tracing. By default, while you are tracing, ArtRage 2 selects your color based on the image underneath. I traced the images below from a photograph. Not once did I pick a color from the color picker.
3. REFERENCE IMAGES: The pay version allows you to load repositionable reference images on top of the canvas. Not just one image, but multiple images.
4. DISAPPEARING PALETTES: Ever work in a program and have to stop to move a palette out of the way? In ArtRage 2, when you get close to a palette, it temporarily collapses, so you don’t have to stop working. Brilliant!!!
5. EXPORTING/IMPORTING: ArtRage 2 exports and imports jpg, bmp, png, or PHOTOSHOP files. Yes, Photoshop. If you are using the pay version, you can import and export layers in this format.
I did encounter one issue here. When exporting files, I had to add the extension (.bmp, .jpg, .psd, etc.) to the file name for Photoshop to open the file. Preview was able to open files without the extension. I have been told that this should be fixed in an upcoming patch (the patch might be available by the time this is posted).
6. GRAPHIC TABLET SUPPORT:ArtRage 2 works great with a mouse, but it also supports many popular drawing tablets, and their pressure sensitive features. I used it with my Wacom Graphire 4, and it worked great. My only complaint is that the automatic eraser feature on the pen did not work for me. I was told by Ambient that the eraser feature does work on Intuos tablets, and they are looking into the Graphire 4 issue. The image below was painted with a mouse instead of a pen tablet.
7. UNLIMITED UNDOS: At least it seems this way. In my tests, I was able to go back one hundred steps in a picture.
These are just some of the great features in ArtRage 2. I highly recommend the full version. At $20, it is a steal! Unfortunately, there is no trial period for the full version features. You’ll have to make that call based on using the free version, and the information on the Ambient Design website. Hopefully, my review will help too.
A true natural media paint program (Corel Painter beware!)
Loaded with features at an affordable price, and the free version is great too.
Simple to use, and very responsive – great for all ages
Supports most drawing tablets, but works great with a mouse
A cropping tool would be nice in future versions
The measurements for your canvas are in pixels. I prefer the option of inches.
Free version does not have a trial period for the pay features
Have to add extensions to exported Photoshop files (although this is suppose to be fixed in an upcoming patch)
The pros of this program definitely outweigh the cons.
MyMac.com Rating: 4.5 out of 5