When I first saw Flame Painter by Escape Motions I didn’t know what to make of it. Is it a paint program? Is it an effects program? Well, after playing with it for several weeks I’m leaning towards more of an effects program, although there are some fantastic examples of it as a paint program on the company website.
In simple terms Flame Painter lets you paint with different types of brushes on a blank canvas or a pre made image or photo. The brushes are not you ordinary brushes. They are flames, or ribbons, or strokes of color. The company calls them Flame Brushes and Flame Painter has a bunch of pre made flame brushes ready to go. There are also customizable settings to make the brush exactly how you want it. These brushes range in all different styles and colors. You can also use each brush in three different modes. It can be used in flame mode, follow mode (more like a traditional brush), and ribbon mode.
Many of these brushes are very cool effects, but I don’t see them as brushes that I would be able to paint an image with. One reason for this is that they are unpredictable. They are unpredictable in how they follow your brush tool and how they interact with the image. Some brushes work great in each mode, while I found others did nothing in flame mode but worked great as a ribbon. I also found that some brushes painted on a white surface while others showed nothing. Too unpredictable for my taste- especially for painting a picture.
When it comes to being a program for adding effects to an image Flame Painter fairs a little better. The brushes work much better as special effect tools for a photo, for example. However, I had problems here too. First, the program does not integrate with iPhoto. Integration is not built in and I could not drag and drop an image from iPhoto to Flame Painter. I had to export it and them import it. Once there, I had the same issues with the brushes that I had using it as a painting tool. They are just too unpredictable. I found myself becoming very frustrated and lost interest very fast.
Several of the brushes also ran very slow and lagged on my 2.5GHZ i5 iMac running with 12mb of RAM.
One nice feature is layers. I found many of the brushes would not paint on top of each other. With layers you can overlap those brushes without concern.
If you have the time to invest in learning what brushes work well on what color and in what mode and you like the look of Flame Painter this might be for you. However, when I use a paint program I like to know how the tool is going to react and I like being able to figure it out without having to invest a lot of time. I imagine many people are like me. However, I could see kids loving this program and having fun with it, at least in the beginning. I can see it as being cool for five minutes and then not being used often.
There is a pro version and a personal version. According to the company website the pro version has “unlimited number of layers, SSAA or editable vector layers.”
Unfortunately, I have to give Flame Painter a 6 out of 10. If you are interested is giving it a spin there is a JAVA based web version at http://www.escapemotions.com/experiments/flame/index.php.