Is Oil Painting Dead?

Yesterday, I downloaded Ink Art from Microsoft’s Tablet Experience Suite and have to say that I’m very impressed with it.


Here’s what I like (keep in mind, I’m a math teacher/photographer not an artist):

  • The strokes actually look like brush strokes.  BAM!  People look at the screen and say, “Wow, it really looks like an oil painting!” 
  • The oils blend in a natural way.  Notice the blending in the swirls: Cool.
  • The brush gets contaminated with all the various colors and has to be cleaned to get new colors (or it can be set to auto clean on each stroke) 
  • The colors palette is huge: anything from vibrant, to muted, or lively to dreary can be selected in an instant.  I don’t have to mix up each color, just pick them from a spectrum.
  • The user interface is simply a masterpiece of software engineering.  Hands down, this is the easiest software to use that I’ve come across.  Kudos to the designers. When I want a wider brush or chalk, I simply make it wider with a flick of the pen, want to switch colors, BAM! you’ve got a new color.
  • I haven’t done this yet, but the program has a tracing paper function that is probably quite powerful.  The basic idea here is that if you have an image on your computer that you want to paint you can simply load it into Ink Art  and have it directly beneath your artwork.  It can be set to auto select color from the image, or not.
  • It runs really fast on my Tablet PC, which is an 2005 vintage Motion Computing LE1600 (Centrino 1.5 Ghz, 30GB HD, with 1.5 GB RAM).  In other words, it only has a single core processor.
  • It has a really cool WOW factor with the kids.  They see the paintings, think they’re cool, and want to draw their own. 
  • Drawing tools included: pencil, crayons, chalk, felt tip pen, oils, and you can scrape with an adjustable knife.
  • There are nine different ways to select your colors.
  • Pressure and stroke of the pens is VERY adjustable, instantly.  It feels very natural to draw on the screen, almost like drawing on paper.
  • The best thing about Ink Art is that it’s a free download on Microsoft’s site.

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • No Mac Version.  Actually this is a bit of a plus.  It turns out that Ink Art is almost identical to a PC/Mac program called Art Rage 2.5 which is also a free download.  Take note that there is a Pro version which costs $25.
  • Ink Art will not run on Windows Vista.  But this is not a problem since it’s nearly identical to Art Rage, which is a free download for the beginner version.
  • This program is designed for a Tablet.  Whereas you can use it on a regular PC, it is very tough to find the pointer when using a mouse, point stick, or or track pad, since it’s a very tiny dot.  This is not a problem with a tablet/stylus setup as the pointer is always right beneath the stylus.
  • I don’t see any way add multiple layers.  If you outgrow the beginner version, pony up $25 for the Pro Version of Art Rage and add layers to your heart’s content.
  • No actions (Macros)
  • I don’t see any customizable brushes.
  • The *.ptg file format is not an industry standard but the program does export files to *.bmp, *.jpeg, or *.png files.  These options are easily accessible in the file menu.
  • The program could benefit some with a higher end computer or tablet interface, I think.  When I’m doing really fast swirls where colors are blending, sometimes the brush skips over the paper.
  • The default image size is just about screen size for most things  and is given in pixels so output sizes need to be calculated outside the program.  It would be cool if one could designate an 13″x19″ image at, say 300 dpi and it would automatically calculate the pixel size for me (300×13 by 300×19).  I haven’t even tried working on a file that big yet, as I’m sticking to smaller ‘desktop’ file sizes for the time being (1024×768) which would only print as 4×5″ outputs.

These cons are just niggles.  Ink Art is a compelling program.  For Windows XP users, I don’t see any reason not to download Ink Art and start having fun (unless the baby is crying). For me, Ink Art is a load of fun. It draws me in to the creative process and time flies. 

I highly recommend it for anyone who has never tried digital painting.  I’d love to see what an experienced person could do with this type of program and I think it’d be a real HOOT to take a painting class.

Review by an artist: Chad Essley

I’ll upload some more paintings in a bit.

2 Responses

  1. Did you ever get around to uploading more paintings Matt?

  2. Not yet.

    I did a painting of Chandler Kemp that I’m really proud of, and did some more abstract stuff. I’m holding off on uploading the Chandler piece until the group gets back from Africa.

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