Painter Brush Libraries and BetterZip

In more recent versions of Corel Painter, exported brush libraries, categories and variants take the form of zipped archives with brushlibrary, brushcategory and brushvariant  files extensions respectively. These brush archives can then be imported into Painter by either double clicking the brush archive icon or using one of the Brushes Import commands from either the Brushes menu or the Brush Selector dropdown flyout menu.

Having several Painter versions installed on my Mac can lead to problems when automatically installing a brush archive by double clicking the file icon. This is because the Painter version associated with the archive type may not be the Painter version you wanted to install the brushes in. If Painter is actually closed when the double-click is performed, then the brushes may not install in your library, category or workspace of choice. My preference is to always use one of the Import commands from the open Painter application.

A Quick Look with BetterZip

I don’t know if you feel the same, but with so much malware and viruses around, I feel much more comfortable if I can take a sneak peek at the contents of an archive before I actually install anything, especially with files downloaded from the web. To this end, there is now good news for Mac Painter users. BetterZip version 3.0.2 now supports viewing Painter brush archives in BetterZip’s built-in QL generator. This means that with BetterZip installed, highlighting a Painter brush archive icon with a brushlibrary, brushcategory or brushvariant file extension will allow the contents of the archive to be viewed simply by pressing the keyboard Space Bar. I’ve included a screenshot below showing a Painter brush archive open in BetterZip’s Quick Look dialogue (click image for larger view).

BetterZip Quick LookAlthough in this case, clicking the ‘Open with Corel Painter 2016’ button in this dialog would actually install the brush category in Corel Painter 2016, I have chosen to associate Painter brush archives with the BetterZip application so that they open in BetterZip’s main window rather than Painter. Changing the file association also disables the double click auto-install for the brush archives.

When the brush archive contents are displayed in the BetterZip application window, because I had previously associated xml files with my ‘ID Painter Version from Variant xml’ application (see previous post), I can then double click any variant xml file displayed in BetterZip’s main window to determine the native Painter version the variant was saved in. Note that you don’t want to actually unzip the brush archive, as you would then be unable to use Painter’s Import command. The procedures outlined above are strictly for archive content previewing.

Many thanks to Robert Rezabek, the developer, for generously allowing Corel Painter brush archives to be previewed using BetterZip’s QL generator.


Painter Version ID from Brush Variants

Corel Painter (Mac only) version compatibility: 7, 8, IX, X, 11, 12.0, 12.1, 12.2, X3, 2015, 2016
Download ID-Painter_Version.zip
(57 KB) AppleScript Droplet for Mac OS 10.10.5 and above.
There are no restrictions on use, other than the resources are not to be offered for sale or shared without my prior consent.



The ID Painter Version from Variant xml.app is an AppleScript droplet for Mac OS X. The droplet application allows users to determine the original ‘native’ Painter version of a custom brush variant by drag and drop of a brush variant xml file (or several files at the same time) onto the droplet icon. A dialog will then be displayed as shown in the example below.


Why Painter Version ID?

I mentioned in my last article that it was possible to determine the ‘as saved’ native Painter version for a Corel Painter brush variant by counting the total number of lines in the variant xml file. Why would anyone want to do this you may ask…well, perhaps if you are not running the most recent Painter version. After downloading a brushvariant, brushcategory or brush library file from another Painter user, you may encounter xml error dialogs after importing the brushes. This is probably because the downloaded brush variants may have been created in a more recent Painter version, so may not be compatible with yours. Being able to perform Corel Painter version ID to discover which version each custom variant was saved in, will at least give you some insight into why you may be getting the xml error.

Another example may be that an instructor wishes to share some custom brush variants with students, but cannot remember which Painter version they were originally created and saved in. If some of the students are using older Painter versions, then there may be a compatibility issue. In this case, the original Painter version id is very useful to know. [Read more…]


xml Line Count in Corel Painter Brush Files

Many Corel Painter users may not be aware of xml files in connection with their brushes. Unless you are a power user and interested in delving under the hood in Painter, there is no need to be aware or concerned with xml files. They are normally hidden, bundled in Painter’s brushlibrary, brushcategory and brushvariant archives. These archives can be imported and exported in more recent Painter versions, allowing users to share variants either singly, as part of a brush category or a brush library containing one or more categories.

Since version 7, the primary Corel Painter brush variant files have been in xml format. These files hold information which Painter’s brush engine uses (along with captured dab images when applicable) to create brush variants by translating the information contained in the xml file into actual brush control settings. It is these settings which give a brush variant a unique appearance and behaviour when a brush stroke is made.

What’s so Special about xml Line Count?

Well, the total number of lines in the brush xml file actually tell a story. Each one of those lines holds often customisable brush settings. The total number of lines in these xml files has increased over subsequent Painter versions as additional/more advanced brush technology and user brush control options are added. So, there is a direct relationship between new brush technology/brush customisation in Painter and the total number of lines in a version native variant xml file.

The chart below shows the total version native xml line count, starting with Painter 7. Painter 2015 and 2016 have the biggest increases in xml line count. This doesn’t of course mean the added brush technology is good or bad, it just means that there are more brush options available to the Painter user.


As a side note, the total xml line count in a version native Painter brush variant xml file can be used to determine which version the variant was saved in. This gives an indication of potential compatibility issues if used in an earlier Painter version.


Painter 2016 Out Now!

Corel Painter 2016 – New Paint Program Redefines the Industry’s Most Expressive Digital Art Experience 

With 131 New Brushes, Boosted Performance, Streamlined Workflow and Enhanced Learning, Corel Painter 2016 is a Dramatic Leap Forward, Continuing to Set the Standard in Digital Art.

Painter-2016-box-frontIntroducing Corel® Painter® 2016, the latest version of the industry’s most powerful and creative professional digital paint program. Painter 2016 continues to push what’s possible in digital art with new, innovative brush technologies such as Audio Expression and Dynamic Speckles, impressive performance enhancements, and improvements to the interface and learning content that give users more power to be productive and unleash their true creative identity.

“Part of what makes Corel Painter so powerful is our incredible community of artists who love the program as much as we do. With their feedback, we’ve created the most stable, powerful and innovative version of Painter to date,” said Chris Pierce, Product Manager, Corel Painter. “Speed enhancements make Painter 2016 up to nine times faster than just two versions back. We’ve added 131 new brushes with creative possibilities that can’t be touched in any other app, including any previous version of Painter! Painter 2016 also features dynamic learning tools and a dramatically improved workflow. If you haven’t experienced Painter in a few years, it’s time to take another look. We know you’ll be blown away by what you see.”

[Read more…]


Voyage of Discovery

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”.

~ Marcel Proust