Tuesday, 12 February 2013

ArtRage 4 Release

ArtRage 4 explodes into existence with a myriad of shiny new tools and enhancements! Paint Symmetry, Scraps, Canvas Views, Clone Tool, Toolbox, Workbench, Pattern and Gradient Fills, Improved interface and more.
Here are a few of my favourite new features in a little more detail.
The mind-blowingly flexible Paint Symmetry system features a central control puck which can be moved, rotated and hidden, all of which means your symmetry work is not restricted to the centre of the canvas or mere horizontal and vertical planes. Everything is done on the fly giving you an extremely fluid workflow. You can also alt(option)/click drag the puck to increase/decrease the number of segments with a maximum of 12. The movie sample below briefly demonstrates testing my sticker spray mosaic brush with symmetry. 

iCONography. ArtRage 4
Magic. ArtRage 4
The combination was used in 'iCONography' and 'Magic' while beta testing symmetry features. I haven't had the chance to continue exploring yet, but Paint Symmetry really opens the door to quick generation of mosaic tesserae and that is a mouthwatering prospect, especially given ArtRage's ability to render textured, reflective and metallic materials, gold being the obvious first choice. Incidentally, the metallic slider was also utilised for the girl's hair which looks very different with canvas lighting switched off!

This next feature is too small to make headlines, but for me perfectly demonstrates how Ambient's considerable development nous and attention to detail result in simple, clean but powerful software.
During the beta test there was some discussion on improving dry brush techniques. Various ideas were mulled and chewed, but when the next beta appeared I laughed out loud at the solution. A single slider called 'Stiffness,' was added to the Oil Brush settings panel. Turn it up full and you get a very bristly brush, but not like the single stamp sample brushes of old. This tool generates a random and unique brush head stamp with every stroke, therefore avoiding that repeated pattern which is often a signature of digital natural media painting.

Among my other favourite additions is the Toolbox panel, a single place to store collections of items. Toolboxes can be saved and loaded into new paintings. Workbench collapses the entire interface into a single interface strip panel which can be docked to different edges of your screen. Scraps and Canvas Views are two new additions to the Reference panel. Scraps can be used as mixing palettes or simply areas to experiment and Canvas Views give you a thumbnail of the painting. You can also paint directly in the Canvas View with strokes automatically mirrored on the main canvas. Finally, important when working on massive images, is the ability to save a user defined number of backups. I can say from personal experience that while testing the memory range of ArtRage 4 on images a metre long, this feature saved me a few times!
Full details of the cracking new toolset can be found at the ArtRage website.

Autumn Sea Warbler. ArtRage 4