In the summer of 2015, Corel announced a new plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom, ParticleShop. ParticleShop is a brush plugin that allows you to use Corel Painter 2016’s new Particle Brush technology inside of Adobe and Corel image editors that support Photoshop plugins. Corel Painter is the de facto digital painting application that all similar applications are judged. While some amazing things can be done with Adobe Photoshop, Painter’s Natural Media tools are more sophisticated than Photoshop’s. Every time Photoshop’s painting engines seems to catch up, Painter’s tools advance even further. The Particle Brush is an example of Painter’s ability of continuing innovation.
Now with that being said, unless you started with Painter, its interface can be fairly intimidating. While Painter’s engineers have done a good job making Photoshop users comfortable in Painter, it’s a different beast. Even though Painter can handle photographic images and compositing, it is designed for artists who can draw or paint with traditional art tools. That’s why for Corel to put their Particle Brush technology in a plugin is pretty cool. Now people who feel at home with Photoshop can use some of Painter’s power inside of a familiar work space. Yet, the Particle Brush is not like Photoshop’s brush technology. Here’s why.
As the name implies, the Particle Brush is based on particle system technology. This is the type of technology used in Adobe After Effects. After Effects uses particle systems to create the organic effects of fire, moving water, dust, and occurrences based on fuzzy phenomena. Even hair, and grass can be particle based on “strands” that appear all at once as they move. These are systems or events that are based on the laws of physics even if they are of a imaginary nature. They appear for a moment and leave behind a trail of their existence. With Photoshop’s brush technology, it is based on pixel mapping controlled by algorithmic dynamics is more fractal in nature. What that means, is you cannot create most of the brushes used by the Particle Brush within Photoshop. Simply put, Corel’s Particle Brush is like having After Effects on a brush without having to configure or know anything about particle generation.
So here is what ParticleShop is really all about. ParticleShop uses this powerful technology to create specific, photo-realistic effects quickly. Whether users want to add hair, fabric, fire, smoke, fur, dust or lighting to their photos, ParticleShop brushes can create these life-like effects with a simple brushstroke. For $50.00, the plugin come with a starter pack from the eleven brush models available for the plugin. This sample pack includes one sample from the Debris, Fabric, Fine Art, Fur, Hair, Light, Space, Smoke, Superhero, Flame, and Storm modules. Each of these modules has an additional 15 brush effects and can be purchased separately for $25.00 each. While these brushes are created with designers and digital painters in mind, photographers, especially those doing composite work, will find the ParticleShop brushes an asset to their Photoshop tool kit. Plus, if you use a Wacom pressure sensitive Tablet/Stylus, ParticleShop is amazing, after all it is powered by Painter. Check out this overview from Wacom’s Product Specialist, Wes Maggio here.
Since the first release of ParticleShop, Corel has released an update to version 1.1. In the original release, the effects were added on a layer in a destructive way. In this update Corel has added the ability to add only the brush strokes to a layer. This offers a huge about of flexibility to the program. By having the brushstrokes applied to their own layer you can use Blend Modes, Layer Mask and much more to the resulting effects. Look at this to see how it works now. My only real issue is that Corel doesn’t offer a trial version of the software. I’m pretty sure this is the reason many people haven’t jumped on this to check it out. While ParticleShop brings a lot of bang for the buck, $50.00 is still $50.00, even with a money back guarantee. Check out the video and slideshow that accompany this article for more information. And remember, you can’t make these brushes yourself in Photoshop. ParticleShop with its 11 brush Starter Pack is pretty awesome and worth the investment.