Corel Painter Vs Photoshop Comparison

Have you ever found yourself frustrated with a graphic design or digital painting because you just couldn't get the software to function the way you wanted?

Digital art technology has come astonishingly far in the past few decades. But different programs are created with different strengths in mind. Some are made for photo manipulation, logo design, sketching, or complex painting. For graphic designers, the right software tools can make or break a piece.

Two popular graphic design software options in today's market are Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. While Photoshop is marketed as the end-all be-all of graphic design, Corel Painter has some notable features that Photoshop lacks.

I've taken a look at both systems and broken down what kind of artist will benefit most from each.

Overview of Corel Painter and Photoshop

Shared Features

  • Visual arts studios for creating paintings and graphic design.
  • Multiple available brushes.
  • Different blending and texture options.
  • Transform tool.
  • Ability to choose unique colors.
  • Basic blending modes.
  • Ability to save to multiple file formats.
  • Similar shortcuts.

Unique Corel Painter Features

  • Brushes behave like real media when you paint.
  • Much easier to use straight line strokes feature.
  • Perspective grid tool for three-dimensional scenes.
  • Adjustable color wheel with harmonious color blends.
  • Optimized for those who have strong traditional media backgrounds.

Unique Photoshop Features

  • More intuitive transform tool with less clicking.
  • Adjustment layers for adjusting different aspects of a piece.
  • Color Dodge blending mode.
  • Ability to lock layer transparency with just one layer at a time.
  • Better performance on slower processors.


Corel Painter

Corel Painter comes with an overwhelming library of pre-installed brushes. Each mimics a traditional painting technique. There are more than thirty categories to choose from depending on your preferred style. Just a few of the options include:

  • Acrylics
  • Chalk
  • Blenders
  • Markers
  • Watercolor
  • Stencils
  • Erasers
  • Thick paint
  • Pencils and pens
  • Liquid ink
Corel Painter vs Photoshop

The choices can be slightly overwhelming at first. Since the brushes are grouped by traditional media, the interface works best for traditional media students who know what to expect from each technique.

One unique aspect of the Corel Painter software is how closely it mimics real life painting. All of the brushes perfectly mimic the texture and feel of their traditional counterparts. And if you work too aggressively, you'll damage your canvas. You're forced to slow down and consider each stroke carefully.

In addition to the preloaded library, you can also create your own brushes or download brush packs made by other artists. Since the software is less widely used, though, there are fewer brush packs to choose from.


Photoshop doesn't come pre-loaded with many brushes. But there are thousands upon thousands of free brushes that were created by other artists. You can download these brush packs into the software. Not only are there ones for traditional media, but there are also options for other elements of graphic design and editing.

Corel Painter vs Photoshop

Brushes can be found in any category: ones for concept art, oil painting, fantasy settings, saturated color schemes - there are no restrictions. That means you can find some really niche options.

Winner: Photoshop for Custom Downloads | Corel Painter for Pre-Loaded Choices

Corel Painter has an overwhelming number of brushes already loaded into the interface. You're ready to go immediately with trying out different traditional art techniques.

Photoshop's initial selection is more limited, but if you're willing to hunt a little, you can find thousands upon thousands of custom brush packs in every category you can think of.

Traditional Art

Corel Painter

Corel Painter vs Photoshop

Corel Painter is perfect for traditional artists. There's really nothing to complain about. If you're a traditional artist who's just getting into digital media, this software is a fantastic way to integrate your existing skills with digital technology. It can be a little less overwhelming than Photoshop.


Corel Painter vs Photoshop

Photoshop isn't optimized for traditional art right away. But since the program is highly customizable, you can make it what you want it to be. If you want traditional art tools, they can be downloaded from the internet. In addition to custom brush packs, there are also third party extensions that make the interface even more geared toward traditional work.

Winner: Corel Painter

Corel Painter is the clear winner thanks to the way the interface is set up. The canvas and brush tools work together to act exactly like traditional art. While you can optimize Photoshop for this purpose, you have to do a good deal of downloading and customizing to get there. Corel is ready to use straight out of installation.


Corel Painter

Corel Painter's adjustable color wheel is a perfect example of how traditional art can be enhanced by digital technology.

Corel Painter vs Photoshop

When you drag your cursor around to examine colors of different brightness and saturation levels, you'll be given a complete color wheel that adjusts to mirror those specifications.

That means that you immediately have a full rainbow color palette that works seamlessly together, rather than needing to eyeball different hues and hope for the best.


Photoshop comes with a much more outdated color picking method. This doesn't include any generated palettes, a complementary color wheel, or any other helpful tools for selecting choices that work together.

Corel Painter vs Photoshop

You can download a third party extension that works sort of like the color wheel, but it doesn't have the same intuitive functionality.

Winner: Corel Painter

The color wheel is a game changer that takes all the hassle out of creating beautiful designs that work together visually.


Corel Painter

Corel Painter vs Photoshop

Corel Painter doesn't have a layering system. This is one more way that it mimics traditional art - there aren't layers when you paint on real canvas. But layering is one of the biggest strengths of traditional art, and the software suffers for its loss.


Photoshop allows you to create different layers of an image and flip between them as you work. By doing this, you can separate different image components. This can allow you to create several different visuals at the same time, which can be toggled by turning different layers on and off.

Corel Painter vs Photoshop

It's also an essential component of sketching, line art, and coloring for many artists. Plus, layering tools make it easier for professionals to overlay watermarks and then easily remove them when presenting a finished design.

Winner: Photoshop

Photoshop's layering system is one of the best in the business, and it makes it a lot easier for nearly every aspect of digital design.

See Full Review of - Corel Painter | Photoshop

Pros and Cons of Corel Painter


  • The brushes function exactly like traditional media tools, so you can practice many different techniques.
  • The perspective grid allows you to paint in 3D without needing to sketch your own guidelines.
  • The color wheel automatically gives you color blends that work together thanks to similar brightness and saturation levels.


  • The lack of individual layers is a huge loss when working on complex projects, as it makes altering small elements more difficult.

Pros and Cons of Photoshop


  • You can work with many different layers and adjust the transparency, which allows you to separate different parts of a piece to be worked on individually.
  • You can customize your own brushes or download hundreds of custom brushes made by other artists.
  • The software runs more smoothly and easily, particularly on computers with limited processing power.


  • The lack of gridding tools, helpful color wheel, and traditional brushes makes this a very difficult system for traditional painters to use.

Final Thoughts: Which is Better?

Both of these systems have incredible graphic design and painting potential. A big part of using them is figuring out how to utilize all the different features available. Either way, the systems are high-tech enough to give you incredible painting definition.

Photoshop is best for professional graphic designers due to its multi-layer composition and its faster processing power. The lack of lag shortens your work time. Plus there are infinite combinations of brushes to achieve every effect you can imagine. For complicated, professional pieces, there's very little this software doesn't do.

Corel Painter is geared toward those with a traditional art background. It's one of the only digital studios with brushes that behave like traditional media. You can paint authentic-feeling charcoal, watercolor, oil, and acrylic canvases. The perspective feature gives you perfect guidelines, and the color wheel automates color scheme creation.


Official Top 5 Review Team
Official Top 5 Review Team

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