Why is Corel Painter So Expensive?

When researching industry standard applications for illustration and design, you expect to see an industry standard price tag. When looking up more niche applications, like Corel Painter, you may not expect their price to be comparable, especially since it isn’t as widely used as an application like Photoshop. However, you might be disappointed to find the subscription for Corel Painter only slightly less expensive.

Corel Painter is expensive because the application offers a stunningly accurate intuitive traditional painting simulation in a digital medium. When comparing it to other subscriptions for comparable applications, it’s right on par with other prices. 

With a $429 one-time purchase or a $199 yearly subscription for the latest version, you might be wondering if you would be getting your money’s worth with this application. Keep reading to get into the details of Corel Painter and how it compares to its top competitors.

What Features Make Corel Painter Expensive?

At first glance, Corel Painter seems like the cheaper software compared to other comparable competitors. Potential users seeing the comparative subscription prices might have some scratching their heads when they read reviews, and one of the chief complaints is the cost of the application. Keep in mind that most companies will come out with a new version of their product every year or every couple of years.

What makes Corel Painter expensive is the upgrades. If you have a previous version of Corel Painter, you can upgrade to the latest version for $229, only $200 less than the full price. By comparison, Photoshop has been a subscription model since 2013 and offers updates to each latest version for free.

Now, Photoshop wasn’t always this way— there was a point where it functioned similarly to Corel Painter, and it cost hundreds of dollars to obtain the latest version. However, that was at a time when the subscription model of payment wasn’t utilized the way it is now. Even websites that offer similar services, like Placeit.net, offer subscriptions.

Is Corel Painter Worth the Expensive Price Tag?

Most industry professionals or serious hobbyists don’t mind handing over a couple of hundred dollars for an application that will turn out a worthy finished product— which is why so many graphic designers and photo editors are willing to pay Photoshop’s subscription cost of $239 annually. Is $40 in upfront savings worth taking up Corel Painter as your primary tool for illustration or design?

Corel Painter is worth the expense if you are a painter by trade or an illustrator (professional or hobbyist). The application offers an easy user experience that brings you as close to your real mediums as digitally possible.

Here are the factors that make the application worth the expense:

  1. Compatibility and Performance
  2. Tools and Features
  3. Customization and Workflow
  4. User Learning Curve

Let’s dive into these elements to understand why Corel Painter is worth the one-time or annual cost.

1. Compatibility and Performance

While some may view Corel Painter as being a more niche application, the creators have ensured that anyone can download the program no matter what PC you’re using. The application is compatible with both Windows and Mac, and more importantly, it runs smoothly on both systems.

Additionally, Corel Painter works well alongside external or sister programs within their suite, and this offers its users flexibility when moving from one application to another on the same project. Any work can be saved in various file formats, like JPG and PNG, to suit your needs.

2. Tools and Features

Corel Painter comes with pre-installed brushes and offers brush packages created by other users for download. The variety and accuracy are hard to beat, ranging from watercolor brushes to chalk to oil and so on. With so much versatility in the brushes, you can create a digital rendering with the same texture and feel as a traditional painting.

The two features unique to Corel Painter, when compared to industry standards, are Auto Painting Palette/Smart Auto Painting and Perspective Grid. The Smart Auto Painting feature lets you take virtually any image and turn it into a painting with just a few natural brush strokes, and it’s a lot simpler than using a bevy of tools to accomplish the same task.

The perspective grid feature comes pre-installed in Corel Painter. With this feature, you can adjust the gridlines and horizontal lines according to your needs and desires. This user-friendly tool offers guidelines for simple drawings or 3D images.

3. Customization and Workflow

Corel Painter is extremely customizable, and you can tailor design features to suit your overall needs or the needs of a single project. Customization in Corel Paint includes a custom palette for brushes and commands, a custom layout, and menus. These custom palettes allow you to single out certain features you want at your disposal and make them easier and faster to access.

The option to customize and create shortcuts saves the user from interrupting workflow and boosts productivity. Users also want customization to be a user-friendly and fast process to get right into work. Creating the custom palette is a simple three-step process that any level of experience users can easily accomplish. The process is Choose Window>Custom Palette>Add Command.

4. User Learning Curve

One reason why industry standards in design have remained in their position isn’t just because of the features and performance of these applications but because of how long it took the user to learn the application.

Certain applications could take hours of tutorials and tinkering to become acquainted enough to go beyond the basics and use the application for various professional projects.

Corel Painter is extremely user-friendly and nowhere near as daunting or time-consuming as some comparable competitors. The application allows users to jump right in and start creating art without taking a college-level course on learning the application first.


There may come a time when Corel Painter offers a more affordable way to upgrade its application. For the time being, only the individual user can decide if it’s worth getting an application you may not be able to afford to keep updated or continue to pay hundreds of dollars every time a new update arrives.