Who doesn’t like the chance to win free software?
Surface Pro and Windows tablet PC users have an amazing array of great software at their disposal and most of it costs only a fraction of what you will pay for a license from Adobe or Corel.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I can't believe I haven't updated this post since September 2014. Spring 2015 brings the regular round of 3d application updates!
Many of you have asked, so I have noted where programs support multitouch gestures.
- Illustrator 18.0.0 x64 (CC 2014) - runs (intermittent pen with N-Trig Wintab R16, R17)
- Illustrator CC 17.1.0 x64 - runs (intermittent pen with N-Trig Wintab driver 14-17)
- Illustrator CS5 - runs
- Photoshop 15 (CC 2014) - runs, no Wintab driver required
- Photoshop 14.2.1 x64, CS6 Extended 13.0 x64, CS5 x64 - runs (requires N-Trig Wintab driver 14 or higher)
- Premiere Pro 8.0.0 (169) Build aka CC 2014.0, 7.2.2 (33) - runs
- After Effects 184.108.40.206 (CC 2014), 220.127.116.11 - runs
- Flash Professional 18.104.22.168 (CC 2014), CC 22.214.171.124 - runs
- Substance Painter 0.7.1, 0.5.0 - runs (UI does not scale)
- Substance Designer 4.3.1 - runs (UI does not scale)
- ArtRage 4.0.6, 4.0.5 - runs
- 3DS Max 2016, 2015 SP1 - runs (supports multi-touch)
- Sketchbook Pro 7, 6.2.5 - runs (recommended)
- Maya 2016, 2015 SP2 - runs (2016 supports multi-touch)
- Maya LT 2016 - runs, supports multi-touch
- Mudbox 2016, 2015 SP1 - runs (2016 supports multi-touch), (no multi-touch in 2015)
- Mudbox 2015- no pen or touch, works with mouse or touchpad
- Softimage 2015 - runs
- AZDrawing 1.13 - runs
- Blender 2.71, 2.70 - runs
- CorelDraw X7 126.96.36.1997 - RealTimeStylus support added, all prior versions - no pressure
- Painter 15 188.8.131.525 - runs
- Painter X3 184.108.40.2060 - runs
- Photo-Paint X7 220.127.116.111 - no pressure
- Modo 801 SP4, SP3, SP2, SP1, 801 - runs
- FireAlpaca 1.0.51 - runs
- GIMP 2.8.10 - runs
- Sketchtime - runs, software not pressure sensitive
- Krita 2.8.3 x64 - runs
Krogh Mortensen Animation
- Plastic Animation Paper 4.0 - runs (can't configure pen buttons)
- Cinema 4D R15.057 - runs
- Fresh Paint - runs
- MyPaint 1.0.0 - runs
- Silo 2.3 - runs
- Chronosculpt 1.0.1 x64 - runs
- Lightwave 3D 11.6.3 x64 - runs
- openCanvas 6.0.02 (64bit) - runs
- 3D-Coat 4.1.04A - runs (DX64 only)
- Sculptris - runs
- ZBrush 4R6 - runs
- Howler 9 4.00.9.2 - runs
- DrawPlus X6 18.104.22.168 x64 - runs
- Houdini FX 14.0.291 - does not run. Program loads, but objects do not display. Touch not supported.
- Sketchable - runs
- Mischief 1.12 - runs
Smith Micro (Celsys)
- Manga Studio 5.0.4 (Clip Studio Paint 1.3.1) - runs
- Paint Tool SAI 1.2.0 - runs
- Verve Painter v0.99u.11 -runs
- Toon Boom Animate Pro 3 PLE - runs
Triple Squid Software
- Moment of Inspiration (MoI3D) 3.0 beta (June 27, March 24, 2014) - runs
- TVPaint 10.5.7 x64 - runs
- Unity 5.0.0f4 - runs
- Unity 4.60b9, 4.5 - runs (requires mouse or touchpad, no pen or touch response)
Ambient Design’s ArtRage 4 carves out a unique slot for itself in the spectrum of Windows paint programs.
It’s fuller-featured than Modern UI programs like Fresh Paint. But despite being a desktop application, those features are contained in a tablet-friendly interface with large, easy-to-hit targets. It offers many distinct features vs. other low-cost options like Manga Studio or Sketchbook Pro. And it’s far less expensive than Corel Painter.
Whether you’re a pro or absolute beginner, you’ll find something to like in ArtRage 4.
I recently had the chance to test a beta version of the upcoming 4.5 release and it adds a lot of interesting new features. Although I don’t paint, I found most of the new features useful for line work.
The program is now available in a 64-bit version so it will allow you to take advantage of additional system RAM.
The new grid tool, including snap to grid, improves the software’s precision drawing capabilities and is very helpful for aligning elements or drawing straight lines or squares. The grid can also be added to reference images, a very useful addition. Combined with auto-smoothing in the ink pen or pencil tools, you can use a grid to create evenly-spaced wave patterns too.
If your tablet supports it, the pencil tool will allow live tilt as you draw. Make sure to untick the precise checkbox.
You can now collect your most used swatches and toolbox objects and reposition them in both pinboard and pod views.
The font picker now previews your selected font and you can change all text in a selected layer (without selecting the text) or mix and match fonts and formatting options within a single text block.
Although it’s clean and uncluttered, the ArtRage interface will take some getting accustomed to by experienced Windows artists. Instead of a toolbox, the tools and palettes are contained in two quarter-circles on the left and right lower corners of the screen.
By default, these can take up a lot of room on lower resolution tablets, but double tapping the corners of the palettes will minimize them.
The program also offers a compact workbench mode that is very efficient and easy to navigate. It’s also possible to scale the UI elements inside the ArtRage/Preferences/Panels settings.
The ArtRage UI defaults to a somewhat ugly lime green, but switching to a less nauseating shade is as simple as entering Preferences/Interface and choosing something more eye-pleasing.
ArtRage supports multi-touch gestures. In preferences, got to Input Devices and make sure Use Realtime Stylus and Use Touch Input are ticked and untick Use Wintab.
The biggest drawback in using ArtRage on any Surface Pro or other Windows tablet pc is that it doesn’t handle palm rejection well. It’s next to impossible for me to avoid leaving stray marks as I draw. So you’ll need to use an artist’s glove while you work to avoid needless frustration.
Each tool (oil brush, watercolor, palette knife, airbrush, ink pen, pencil, paint roller, felt pen, gloop pen, sticker spray, pastel, paint tube and glitter tube) loads its own paint presets. It’s fascinating to see how the tools interact with one another and the canvas. It’s very easy to get lost experimenting and playing with the settings.
Because it supports smoothing, Surface Pro 3 and other N-Trig device owners should have no problem with jittery slow strokes.
Sizing a brush is also a little odd: tapping and dragging in the tool size area scales the brush up and down. Double tapping allows numeric entry. Brush size values are expressed as a percentage rather than a precise pixel size.
Picking a precise color begins with clicking the appropriate hue, then tapping and dragging to select the brightness and saturation. The color palette also has a metallic setting which adds some specular highlights and reflections to your strokes.
ArtRage 4.5 will be available in mid-August as a free upgrade for registered ArtRage 4 owners. The software retails for only $50, so it should be within the reach of most users. A demo version is available for download here: http://www.artrage.com/demos/
If you’re looking for robust paint capabilities that won’t break the bank and don’t mind using a glove as you draw, ArtRage is definitely a worthwhile addition to any Windows tablet artist’s toolkit.
UPDATE: RothDog, whose image graces the top of this review has posted a time lapse video of the painting of the image. It condences the 24 hour painting into under five minutes but is well worth a look if you're interested in his technique.
So you're dying to max out your credit card on a new Surface Pro 2 but are worried your favorite won't run. Or you've got the Microsoft wonder tablet but don't want to plunk down a bunch of cash on a graphics app that will blow up your new machine.
Fear not. You've come to the right place. "What Run, What Doesn't V1" was the raison d'etre for this blog and we're proud to present the Surface Pro 2/Windows 8.1 version. Rather than update the original, we'll keep that one in place for anyone who chooses not to update to Windows 8.1. (Don't know why any of you would do that, but we know there are paranoid folks out there who fear change).
Important note: the list below contains only versions I've personally tested on my Surface Pro 2. It's very likely that older versions listed in the original feature will still operate, but we won't be able to re-test those older apps for Windows 8.1 compatibility.
Recommendations are based on UI suitability to pen and touch navigation.
The list below will grow as we install more software. Since most graphics apps limit the number of installations, we're have to be somewhat deliberate in how much we migrate at a time.
As always, if you've got a specific tool you'd like us to test, please let us know in the comments section below.
- Photoshop CC - runs, requires Wacom feel driver, recommend UI scaling hack
- Illustrator CC - runs, requires Wacom feel driver, recommend UI scaling hack
- Substance Painter 0.3.0 (beta) - runs
- ArtRage 4.0.6 - runs, recommended
- 3DS Max 2015, 2014 - runs, mouse strongly recommended
- Maya 2015, 2014 - runs, mouse strongly recommended
- Maya LT 2014 - runs
- Mudbox 2015 SP1 - runs, multi-touch rotation unresponsive. Requires May 21, 2014 Intel HD graphics driver or higher.
- Mudbox 2015*, 2014.5, 2014** - runs, *requires Intel HD display driver update, **crashes on several primitive objects
- Mudbox 2013, 2012 - incompatible, require discrete graphics
- Mudbox 2011 x64 - runs
- Sketchbook Pro 6.2.5, 6.2.4, 6.2.3 - runs, recommended
- Softimage 2015, 2014 - runs, three-button mouse required
- Blender 2.7, 2.69 - runs, mouse recommended
- Clip Studio Paint 1.2.8 (Japanese) - runs
- Clip Studio Paint 1.3.1, 1.2.7 (English) - runs, recommended
- Corel Painter X3 - runs
- DAZ Studio 4.6 - runs
- Shade 3D Professional 14 - runs
- Modo 801 SP1, 801, 701 SP5 - runs
- Inkscape 0.48.4 - runs
The Krita Foundation
- Krita Desktop 22.214.171.124 - runs
- Silo 2.3, 2.2 - runs
- TwistedBrush Pro Studio 20.06 - runs
- Sculptris Alpha 6 - runs, recommended
- ZBrush 4R6 - runs, not recommended due to small UI
- Comic Life 3.0b1 - runs
- DrawPlus X6 - runs
- Mischief 1.11, 1.10, 1.09 - runs, no multi-touch support
- Manga Studio 5.0.4, 5.0.3 - runs, recommended
- Paint Tool SAI 2 (beta), 1.1 - runs, pressure sensitivity works, but there is limited touch rejection. Very easy to leave stray marks. No touch pan, rotate or zoom.
- Metasequoia 4.1.2 (64-bit) - runs
- SketchUp Make 14.0.4900 - runs
Triple Squid Software Design
- Moments of Inspiration (MoI3D) 3.0 beta, 2.0 - runs, recommended
- TVPaint Animation 10 Pro - runs
Unity Pro 4.3.0b6 - runs, requires mouse
Web Technology Corp.
- Comipo! 1.81.00 - runs
Optimized for Pen Tablets & Touch Screens
Symmetry Painting, Clone Tools, & Paint Mixing Scraps
June 27, 2014, San Francisco, CA – ArtRage 4 offers unique touch-friendly workflow advantages optimized for pen tablet users. The art creation app takes full advantage of Windows 8 multi-touch tablets, laptops, and desktops. ArtRage 4 not only allows rotation, scale, and movement of the canvas with two fingers, but it can even utilize simple multi-touch gestures with layers, selections, rulers, stencils, stickers and reference images. Whether using a pen, brush, drawing tablet, mouse or even a finger, ArtRage provides the experience of actually “painting” digitally on a computer canvas with oil paints that smear and blend, and watercolors that flow together to create soft, wet gradations, just as they would in a traditional art studio.
ArtRage 4.5 with 64-bit Support to be Released in the Summer – Free Upgrade for ArtRage 4 Users
ArtRage 4.5 will be released this summer, featuring a 64-bit engine for speed improvements, larger projects and canvases, and additional features listed below. ArtRage 4.5 will be a free upgrade for all registered users of ArtRage 4 (upgrade discounts also apply for eligible users of previous versions).
ArtRage 4.5 New Features:
•64-Bit Support: ArtRage 4.5 supports 64-bit processors on Windows and OS X, which means you can work on significantly larger file sizes and at much faster speeds.
•Grids: Highly customizable grid overlays are available to help you map out your paintings and designs in pixels or proportions. You can choose between a non-interactive guide or have your lines “Snap To Grid.” T Grids to References will be also added to allow for grid comparisons between reference material and your canvas.
•Live Pencil Tilt: The Pencil Tool now supports Tilt as you paint (with compatible styluses).
Other ArtRage 4.5 Improvements:
ArtRage 4.5 also has a few smaller tweaks, updates, and bug fixes, including an improved Font Picker; the ability to rearrange Toolbox objects, move and duplicate resources between categories; OS X Multitouch improvements, faster undo actions, and Global Samples that are saved separately from your Preferences.
ArtRage 4.5 Free to ArtRage 4 Users
ArtRage 4.5 will be free to everyone who owns ArtRage 4. Only upgrades from new editions (for example moving from ArtRage 2 to ArtRage 4) requirement payment, never for updates to versions that are already owned. Available immediately for Mac and Windows 8, 7, XP, Vista and earlier computers, tablets, interactive white boards, and touch screens, at: http://www.artrage.com/artrage-store.html.
Info on the ArtRage 4.5 update is at: http://www.artrage.com/artrage-4-5-free-update-coming-soon/ and http://www.artrage.com/artrage-4/free-update/.
See the comparison chart: http://www.artrage.com/files/artrage_product_comparison.pdf.
About Ambient Design Ltd.
Ambient Design Ltd. is a New Zealand-based global software development and publishing firm, specializing in creative applications and user interfaces for artists of all ages and all levels of competency, including professionals, hobbyists and students. The principals have over 40 years experience in combining complex image processing algorithms with an easily accessible user experience. Ambient Design Ltd. was founded in 2000 by Andy Bearsley and Matt Fox-Wilson, formerly of MetaCreations, the developer of Painter, Bryce and Kai’s Power Tools. Ambient Design’s products are available in 12 languages and have been downloaded over 30 million times. For more information, see www.artrage.com.
UPDATE: Additional testing of the Flip has surfaced a much more serious issue than pen pressure or fan noise. I must recommend that you avoid the device until the issue is corrected. See this post for more information: http://surfaceproartist.com/blog/2013/11/14/the-real-dealbreaker-for-sony-vaio-flip-15a-frequent-loss-of-pen-touch-control
And in case you're interested, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 6.0.4 runs well and with pressure sensitivity.
* * *
I had the chance to install two additional applications on the Sony VAIO Flip 15 A this afternoon and I'm sorry to report that neither program runs perfectly.
Paint Tool SAI
It doesn't really surprise me that pen pressure in Systemax's Paint Tool SAI v1.1 doesn't work. This version was released in 2008.
I must thanks Twitter follower Dave Barrack (@grrlpowercomic) who explained that pressure sensitivity in SAI is set on a per brush basis under Advanced Settings, Hard <-> Soft.
Unfortunately, no value from 0 to 200 yields a pressure sensitive brush stroke.
The program doesn't have multi-touch support either, so it's not possible to pan or zoom with one's fingers. Though palm rejection works for the most part, it's still possible to create stray marks with one's pinky or knuckle even though the pen is also in the screen's proximity.
There supposedly are more recent beta versions of SAI available for download, but I was unable to find them.
The SAI interface is also not ideal for a tablet. Even on the Flip's ample 15.5 inch screen, touch targets are very small and need to be selected with the pen tip.
UPDATE: Thanks to Twitter follower Yenny (@Nashoki44), I found the latest beta download for SAI 1.2b5. Unfortunately, that version did not correct the lack of pen pressure.
Although the latest update of Ambient Design's ArtRage 4 recognizes pressure and supports multi-touch with the N-Trig digitizer, I was disappointed to learn that it's still possible to create errant marks as you draw.
If you need proof positive that pc manufacturers haven't a clue, look no further than Sony's decision to bundle ArtRage 3.5.5 Studio with each Flip sold in the U.S.
I'm sure that retailers display that program when potential buyers ask about paint capability and I'm equally certain that savvy buyers will quickly cross the Flip off their lists based on its buggy performance. Any finger gesture may result in unwanted drawing and sometimes in the middle of a two finger zoom or even a pen drawing, unwanted lines will start shooting across the screen.
ArtRage 4 has been out at least since the beginning of this year and it has far fewer issues. Why Sony chose to package the older version baffles me.
If you can keep your pinky or knuckle from tapping on the screen as you draw, you'll be very happy with the results. Otherwise, you'll need to stay vigilant and frequently use Undo.
Like most of you, I've tended to dismiss tablets and convertibles that feature N-Trig digitizers that are limited to only 256 levels of pressure. However, I'm also first to admit that it's nearly impossible to distinguish more than a few pressure levels while drawing on the Surface Pro.
The price and performance of Sony's Vaio tablets and convertibles is definitely appealing, especially with screen sizes ranging from 11 to 15 inches.
I came across this video produced by Sony Vaio Duo 13 owner Scott Harris, which demonstrates Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7, ArtRage 4.0.5 and Sketchbook Pro 6.0.1 running very well at high resolutions.
N-Trig drivers for Photoshop are still in beta, but if you don't require that functionality, I'd say the Sonys are definitely worth considering.
NOTE: I stopped updating this post in October, 2013. However, much of what runs on the Surface Pro 2 should also work with the original Surface Pro. Applications that have had compatibility issues with display drivers such as Autodesk Mudbox will likely break if you attempt to update the SP1.
One of the principal objectives of this blog is to help take the guesswork out of making your purchasing decision. I'm taking the time to install and determine whether these creative applications run so you won't have to.
Here's what I've installed and tested so far:
- Photoshop CC, CS6 - runs, pressure sensitivity corrected with Wacom Feel driver update.
- Illustrator CC, CS6 - runs.
- Flash Professional CC - runs.
ArtRage 4 - runs, recommended
- 3DS Max 2014, 2013 - runs
- Maya 2014, 2013 - runs
- Maya LT 2014 - runs
- Mudbox 2014, 2013 - incompatible, requires discrete graphics
- Mudbox 2010 x64 - runs
- Sketchbook Designer 2014, 2103 - runs, pressure sensitivity corrected with Wacom Feel driver update
- Sketchbook Pro 6.2.3 - runs, recommended
- Softimage 2014, 2013 - runs
Blender 2.68 - runs, not recommended: interface tool small, not scaleable, scaling reacts to pen movement
- Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7 - runs, recommended (Japanese language)
- Clip Studio Modeler Beta 0.9.0 - runs (Japanese language)
- Corel Draw x6 - runs
- Corel Painter x3 -runs
Gimp 2.8.6 - runs
Lumion Keyshot 4.1.35 - runs
Luxology/Foundry Modo 701, 601 SP5 - runs, set input device to tablet
Maxon Cinema 4D Studio R14 - TBD
Newtek Lightwave 11.5 - runs, with pen control issues
Pilgway 3D-Coat 4.0.03 - runs
- Sculptris Alpha 6 - Intel HD4000 driver required
- ZBrush 4R5, 4R6 - runs
61 Solutions Mischief 1.08 - runs
- Anime Studio Pro 9.5 - runs
- Manga Studio 5, 5 EX - runs, recommended (update to 5.0.3)
- Motion Artist 1.1 - runs
- Poser Pro 2010 - runs
Speedy Painter 3.0.7 - runs
TeamUP (Lagoa) MultiOptics - runs, Chrome only
Toonboom Animate Pro 3 - runs
Trimble Sketchup 2013 - runs
Triple Squid Software Design Moments of Inspiration 2.0 (Moi3D) - runs
Unity Pro 4.3.0b5 - runs, touch response unreliable. Works with mouse, capacitive stylus.
Would you like me to test any other programs? Please leave a comment below.