I’ve been in business for most of my 20 or so years after college. Inside my corporate demeanor is a budding artist, protected from the critical eyes of the public.
I’m yearning to grow and explore creative expressions of the heart. I have an artistic flair, a good eye for composition, but could never devote the time needed to really become an artist. Worse, all the drawing and painting apps for the Mac were just too hard to use. Until now.
The Worst Tool Is The One You Don’t Use
Through the years I’ve tried my hand at every kind of drawing and painting method. Watercolors. Oils. Charcoal. They’re all sitting in boxes in my mom and dad’s attic.
For a dozen years I’ve lived in space deprived condos.
That means the creative tool of choice has been my Mac and various and sundry graphic tools.
Yes, I’ve tried Photoshop and Illustrator. Once you get an Adobe CS.x suite it’s hard to stop. But having those tools does not an artist make, despite half a dozen Dummies and Idiots books.
A few years ago, before marriage came along and put a
damper crimp new and lovely demands on my free time, I tried Corel Painter. Now this is a drawing program I could love. Except Painter didn’t love me. Painter is not rocket surgery or brain science. It’s far more complicated than that.
The Best Tool Is The One You Use
I live in a digital age and that means my creative outlet is probably going to be digitally based. I love my Mac. I want to create. Therefore I am.
Knowing my co-dependent relationship with creative urges, our Mac360 techno guru, and fellow creativity-gene-deprived friend, Ron McElfresh, asked me to try out the latest ArtRage Studio, which is kind of a poor-woman’s Painter.
What I want is a drawing and painting app that lets me, well, create, without overwhelming me with dozens and dozens of arcane menus, crazy floating palettes, and obscure tools that require a year in college to figure out how to use.
ArtRage Studio fits me perfectly, but it’s not your mommy’s Mac painter app. The interface alone tells you right away that you’re onto something different. First, it’s actually understandable. Second, it’s easy to use.
What you get with ArtRage is the feel of using natural-media tools—brushes that stroke like brushes, complete with texture—and paint that goes on and becomes what paint would be depending on the texture of the canvas layer below.
ArtRage comes with ready-made objects called Stickers. Simply drag and drop them onto the canvas. There’s even a Sticker spray which will place multiple objects on your canvas. Add what you want via drag and drop from the Sticker Sheets.
I’ve never had a steady, delicate hand (something about being a six footer seems to diminish delicate from a description of me) when it comes to drawing or painting. ArtRage’s pencil drawing tools have a smoothing ink pen which is perfect for fine lines and removes, automatically, the vibrating wiggles from my lines. Think of it as Image Stabilization for budding artists.
The ArtRage selection tools range from the typical magic wand to painting and masking and feathering. Layers are easily scaled, resized, moved, or rotated simply by dragging the handles on any layer object.
Tools are located in the lower corners and easily identifiable. Floating palettes provide additional functionality, and are a click away, and minimize to buttons. The palettes themselves need a handle identifier at the lower right corner, though. Right clicking on the buttons gives you a contextual menu of more settings.
Clicking on the Settings brings up more options. Opacity and spread can be adjusted by moving the mouse over each setting, left or right. Similarly, the tools can be adjusted from the tool palette, and all the tools, buttons, and settings can be dismissed with a simple right-click.
It took me awhile to get a feel for some of the tools and brushes. Clicking on each brings up appropriate settings.
The canvas workspace is not cluttered, but is resizable to fit a multi-app environment.
The color blending mode was a favorite as it seems to feel the same as when blending different paint colors. It’s easy to create and group layers on the canvas, too.
One click moves everything to full screen mode. At no time did I notice a hesitation or sluggish response of the tools on my iMac. The only real difference between real and digital is reflected in pressure, though I don’t have a tablet to test that capability.
How Can Inexpensive Be The Best?
How is ArtRage Studio Pro the best Mac drawing and painting app? First, it’s not daunting. It’s almost childish in layout and design, but approachable. Second, ARSP is perfect for budding artists on a budget. Third, the tool selections feel like real tools, each has separate settings, but it’s not so complex as to be scary.
4th, if you’ve never used a drawing or painting app, ARSP is friendly and inviting, but the results rival those of the more expensive apps—whatever artist is in you won’t be intimidated into submission. 5th, there are plenty of tutorials online, as well as galleries of creations to inspire you to learn how to use the tools. And, finally, ARSP is just plain affordable. After all, the best Mac app is one you can actually use, right?
What’s this newfound creative love cost? Photoshop is $700. Corel’s Painter is $400. ArtRage Studio Pro is $80 and runs on both Mac and Windows PC. The non-Pro version is half that at $40.
If you’re like me, you’ll find ArtRage Studio Pro to be a wonderfully easy tool to exercise the creative gene, but without either the expense or complexity of Photoshop or Painter.