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Review of ArtRage Deluxe - Natural Media Software

Recently, my sister, an elementary school art teacher, asked me to suggest a reasonably priced, natural media digital painting and drawing software that she could use with her students. She wanted a software like Corel's PainterR but at a much lower price tag. So, the search was on. The software that I suggested for her students, or for any personal and professional use, was ArtRage DeluxeR 2.5 from Smith Micro Software, Inc. ArtRage is a natural media digital art software with several very nice features, some challenging those of Painter and Adobe's PhotoshopR.

Workspace
The first thing that I liked was the software's graphic user interface or workspace. Given the number of features and the amount of controls to customize the tools, you would expect a complicated and intimidating GUI similar to that of Painter or Photoshop. Instead, you have an uncluttered workspace with only six panels bordering the edges. Also, as you are working, these few panels automatically disappear out of the way as your brush approaches and reappear again as you move your brush away. Other nice features are a rotating canvas and pen tablet support.

Tracing and Reference Images
Those artists who begin their artwork by blocking out the major shapes and colors in their painting will appreciate ArtRage's Tracing Image feature. This feature allows you to import a photo or sketch as a starting point for your painting. ArtRage projects the imported tracing image onto the canvas and you can control the scale and opacity of the image. For example, while tracing the outline of the rose with the Pencil tool, I set the opacity to around 80% which allowed me to see the details clearly. Later when I began to add color, I lowered to opacity to about 30% to create an "onion skin" of the trace image. For artists who like to paint from a reference image, ArtRage allows you to "pin" a reference image or images directly on to the canvas. Once the reference image is pinned to the workspace, you can reposition the image next to the area you are working on.

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Smith Micro and the Smith Micro logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Smith Micro Software, Inc. ArtRage, ArtRage Deluxe, Ambient Design Ltd. and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Ambient Design Ltd. Copyright 2008 Smith Micro Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

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