I have been lucky to be given a free copy of ArtRage 3 Studio Pro along with a Wacom Bamboo Fun (medium size). I have previously had several different drawing tablets and really not got on well with then so was curious to see if I would be better with this one, but on to ArtRage first.

ArtRage Studio Pro – Natural Painting Software for Mac or PC

On first opening Artrage Studio Pro (I have reviewed an old version previously) it looked very easy to use. The tools are set up in a pallette in a corner and you can basically get painting straight away. In fact at first glance it looks quite a basic program, this is a good thing as it is not too intimidating for a beginner, but there is a lot more hidden beneath the surface. Each of the painting tools have some ready made presets but you can make your own variations, it is easy to change the size opacity, pressure and thinners. You can pull in a photo or rough sketch to use as a tracing image and choose to use the colours from the tracing image or choose your own.

I first started by bringing in a picture of my dog as a tracing image and then was pleased to find that you can also bring in a reference image, which looks like it has been pinned to your canvas. I started by trying a water colour brush and put a wash down which I think looks quite convincing. I did work on this a bit more but it is a bit too embarassing to show the results here – but that was down to me, the user 😉 and not the software.
ArtRage Studio Pro 3

I had a bit of an experiment with the oil paints too, using a tracing image from a royalty free site, and I think with a little more practice I could get some pretty decent results. After all you wouldn’t expect to pick up a real paintbrush, after you hadn’t done it for years and be a maestro, and this sure beats cleaning up wet paint. It could also make for some more varied painterly images for you graphic design work rather than straight photograph. Using the tracing feature with a little practice you wouldn’t need to be an artistic genius to get some decent results either.

Overall I really like ArtRage 3 Studio Pro, I found it much easier to use than “Painter” which I have tried in past and I think it has a low learning curve. The only small thing I think could be improved is the menu for moving the canvas about (you can rotate it as well as move it up down side to side) which I would prefer was in a small top palette with the zoom feature, rather than taking up a lot of canvas space, but this is pretty minor.

If you would like to give ArtRage a try you can download a demo here. ArtRage is available in different versions – ArtRage 2.6 Starter Addition for FREE, ArtRage 2.6 Mac and PC $20, ArtRage 3 Studio Mac and PC $40 and ArtRage 3 Studio Pro £ (which I used) for $80.

Below you can see some videos of people who really know how to use ArtRage and below that more information on The Wacom Bamboo Fun.

You can also find a series of tutorial videos for ArtRage here if you want to try them with the demo.

Wacom Bamboo Fun (Medium)

As I mentioned before I have never really got the hang of using a drawing tablet so I was intrigued to see if I would get on better with this one, and I did. The pen feels smooth and responsive to use and works well with ArtRage, I felt more like I was really painting and drawing. The new tablet also gives you the ability to use your fingers to control zooming scrolling and rotating though I found this a bit tricky, but I think that is because I have got so used to doing this on my Ipad and this feels very different. According to twitter user @matt_cochr using a drawing tablet has helped with his RSI so that may be another reason to consider one. You can see the new range of Wacom Bamboo tablets here.

You can see a thorough video review of the Wacom Bamboo Fun by Geekanoids below