When Corel, the people behind Corel Paint, announce that theyre releasing a Photoshop and Lightroom plugin it peaks ones interest, so I bought the Starter Pack and gave it a try.
Starting image for this post comes from Fotolia
As an online purchase the download was fast and the installation was quick and easy. The Starter Pack plugin comes with 11 different brushes and costs $49.99 (Appx 32.50 / 44.60).
Full brush sets can be added for a 24.99 for me here in the UK, thats about $38, so I was in no rush to start filling my shopping trolley and tried out just the samples included.
Each brush can be controlled with a tablet for both size and opacity. I use a Wacom Intuos4 and it worked intuitively and with no delay. Changing the size of the brush was easy from the Wacom and using common keyboard shortcuts of [ and ], it was difficult to judge the effect of a brush size change prior to drawing however.
Brush Reset 2. Brush Size 3. Brush Opacity
The tools panel is nice and simple;
- Brush : Used for drawing out the effects determined by the selection in the brush selection panel
- Eraser : I was surprised by this tool, it erases everything including any pixels you bought in from Photoshop or Lightroom, revealing the checkerboard. I was expecting it to erase just what had been added in ParticleShop, especially in the absence of any masking feature.
- Blend : Akin to the Smudge Tool in Photoshop, this tool blends tones together, again those added in ParticleShop and bought in from Photoshop.
- Eye Dropper : Easily choose a colour from the image or
- Color Wheel : For choosing getting just the right colour, small but adequate for my needs.
Exploring the Brushes
The Hair Brush
My first choice was to look at the Hair brush;
A quick brush stroke reveals the shape of this brush;
It looks great so I used the Eye-Dropper to choose a colour from the dancers hair and added a few strokes to lengthen her hair;
Not bad considering its a default brush and my lack of artistic ability!
The Fabric Brush
This brush takes a little practice but provided some great effects. While drawing with the brush several points follow the mouse moving in a very fluid manner allowing for a swish effect to be added to the fabric. The velocity of the brush effects the swish also.
Using the tablet felt very intuitive and made the use of this brush a lot easier.
The Flame Brush
The Flame brush blends well with lighter and darker colours but here Ive used it to add some movement to the dancers arms. This was a single stroke from the each hand out. Again, multiple points draw out the effect as I move the pen;
The Light Brush
The Light Brush has some extra settings that allow for various patterns and texture. Clicking and holding will give a startburst effect while drawing adds a light trail effect, much like a sparkler.
I really enjoyed using the brushes and no doubt you’ll see some of them appear on these pages in the future. The cost to upgrade to the full pack seems a little expensive but Im not sure users will want to have them all. Im not alone in being a photographer because I can’t draw, so the Fine Art and fur brushes may not be first on my wish list.
For retouchers the hair brushes are amazing and are certainly a pack Ill look to adding. Debris looks nice but I think I need a little more time to decide how Id use it, and how much.
In conclusion, I love these effects, to play with and as a massive time saver.
This is the first release of ParticleShop so its no surprise that theres a few things that, to my mind, need a little attention;
Images must be 8 Bit images, this is fine but the dialogue box that tells you this has no option to convert and continue.
Although zooming can be done with the Cmd/Ctl and +/- theres no zoom tool and as a big user of the Cmd+0 and Cmd+1 shortcut I was irritated by the ineffectiveness of fitting on screen and zooming to 100%.
The Particle Brush is a destructive effect and thus should be added as separate layers. In my example here, to be safe, I really should have saved the hair layer, duplicated and then run ParticleShop again to add the fabric. I did this for the Flame Brush as I knew I would need to add a layer mask to just that effect but it would be nice to add these as separate layers within the plug in itself.
ParticleShop does not run on a Smart Object.
Even with the workflow speed bumps I love this plugin. Ive had a play on other images and find that I can be creative quickly and effectively, even with the starter pack. In the hands of more creative and artistic people the effects that can be created are endless.
Value for money really will depend on your individual use of course, for me the Starter Pack and maybe one or two other packs may be all I can justify.
Known as only “TipSquirrel” for two years, Eric ‘went public’ when he was a finalist in The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist competition. He’s also been a finalist in Deke’s Techniques Photoshop Challenge.
While still taking on some freelance work, Eric has recently become a Lecturer at Peterborough’s Media and Journalism Centre where he enjoys sharing his knowledge as well as learning new skills. This realisation that he loves to teach has made Eric look at altering his career path.
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